Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Kindy Update: In Pursuit of Smiley Faces

As we near the end of Samantha's 3rd week in Kindergarten, we've been so pleased and amazed with how well the transition has been.  I honestly don't think we could have had a better situation, apart from a full-day Kindy, which, sadly, doesn't exist in our county. 

Samantha had some brief resistance on Day 1, but after that has made herself quite at home, absorbing and following the routine, and working so, so hard in her 1 on 1 time with the resource teacher after class ends.  I'm starting to think that having that much academic instruction crammed into a 3-hour period is actually good for her, keeping her on-task and in-focus.  Samantha talks about her teachers, but doesn't mention the other children.  I suspect this is a slightly negative by-product of that environment, though - the children are working, listening to the instruction, with little time to socialize.  But my little social child is good with that for now, and will, with a little bit of time, eventually get to know some of them, I'm sure.  And can I just say what a total joy it is every morning for me to walk her to class and stand back to watch her remove her backpack, unzip it, take out her folder, re-zip the bag, hang it up, put the folder in the basket for the teacher, get her scissors or crayons, and sit down to do the morning activity?  I'm lucky to get a kiss and a hug goodbye somewhere in the middle of this, although I strategically place myself near the folder basket... 

Communication between the teachers and us has been wonderful.  I read on someone's blog or FB wall or somewhere (maybe Babycenter?  Oh, so many social networking outlets, so little time...) yesterday that someone's teachers didn't send home a communication paper with their child each day now that the child was in Kindergarten.  And when she asked the teacher about it, the teacher got defensive and almost nasty, saying that she just doesn't have time for that.  I'm not sure exactly who is writing our notes, but it's either the teacher's aide or Samantha's 1:1 aide who is accompanying her in the classroom for the time being.  And the notes are detailed, explaining everything that they did at school that day, even down to the instructional videos they watched.  How fantastic it was for me to be able to ask Samantha about the video they watched about caring for books at the library on Monday!  This communication tool really provides a valuable ongoing teaching/learning experience for Samantha at home.

About the smiley faces...the children get a daily chart, with listed tasks and activities, and if they follow directions and listen, they get a smiley face sticker for each one.  One of Samantha's predominant flaws is that the more comfortable she becomes with her environment, the sillier and more resistant she becomes.  Last Thursday, the report came home that out of seven opportunities to receive smiley faces, Samantha got...wait for it...two.  What?  They said she was particularly stubborn that day.  Now I guess I could view that in a positive light and say, well, at least she's comfortable and isn't completely shutting down as she has done in the past.  We knew we had to crack down quickly to change the behavior.  Steve talked to her on their walk home from school.  Explained to her how important it is to listen to the teacher and that he knew she'd only received two smiley faces.  Her bottom lip quivered, but she held it together, knowing she'd been wrong.  Oh yes, my girl knows when she did something she knew full well she shouldn't have done...  The next morning, during my treasured time with her on our walk to school, the conversation went like this:

Me:  "Samantha, who do you have to listen to today?"
Samantha (exasperated):  "The teachers!  I know, I know, Mommy!"

On Friday, the feedback from the teachers was we don't know what you said to her, but she did great today!  All smiley faces!   

I feel so fortunate that things seem to be flowing efficiently, smoothly, like silent cogs in a well-oiled machine. 

SO fortunate to have the support of all of Samantha's teachers and the rest of the school administration.  I know we're lucky, that not everyone has this experience.  I hope it continues like this for us, and I hope that those who don't have it can hold their ground and push through and work with their schools to find the happy medium that provides this level of support and communication.


Team Lando said...

I hope in 5 years, our school experience is as good.

And I'm pretty sure that we'll be having the same, "LISTEN to the TEACHERS" conversation.

Lisa said...

I know that exact face - Cate gets a circle colored green, yellow or red on her daily communication report. Last two days have been yellow for stubborness and not listening. So last night I made her walk in to show her daddy - it took about 5 minutes to walk 10 feet because her head was hanging so low. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry! But I had the same thought - "wow she is getting stubborn, I'm so happy she is comfortable there now"!

Anna said...

I wish you could come hold my hand through it all. Its sad that weve lost our DS community. I havent found anyone yet that can fill the void I have- having never sent a little one off to school and her being number four. Just so much new-ness. I admire you so much and love reading about Samanthas days.

patsy said...

oh how i know that bottom lip quiver too well ;) anytime i tell maggie 'no mam' makes its appearance and! so happy the next day was better and hoping for many good days for your beautiful girl :) and your beach pictures were absolutely GORGEOUS!

Qadoshyah said...

Thanks for the comment on my blog :). I'm here checking out your blog!

Crazy Beautiful Love said...

Haha! Everyday it's the same thing with Emma " doe we Listen? What do we listen with? Do we talk while the teacher is talking?" My MIL (retired elementary teacher) says talking while the teacher is talking is the biggest problem at that age.
Sammi will just get better and better as she adapts to "real school".
I'm dreading the day Eslea goes. I don't care what they say about our DS kiddos, Eslea can TALK!!!