Sunday, June 10, 2018

Meet Dragon!!!

Every Kindergarten Instructor knows the broad spectrum of possibilities for how a toddler may respond to their first day of school. Though there are some who come with a puppy-like curiosity that seamlessly blends into a wag-tailing joyous acceptance of their new environment, others

, upon catching even the slightest whiff that they will be leaving their mother's company, burst into a mythological metamorphosis all within kicking distance better beware of. Allow me to outline a few of the signs to look for should you encounter such a terrifying spectacle. Please remember however that though menacing in appearance, these children, like all children are absolutely docile and entirely lovable beneath the spectacle of its beastly transformation:
  1. What once used to be soft buttocks swiftly jet out into a fish-like tail whipping at all within reach 
  2. Their milky soft skin hardens and becomes scaly like a coy 
  3. Like snakes to be feared they wrap themselves around the bottom limbs of their parents resisting any possibility of being left behind 
  4. Their bellies harden like a clam under predatory threat
  5. Their heads begin to bob like camels confirming to all within view that they are most definitely NOT interested in a starting their 20-some year long life of schooling 
  6. Their tender toddler fingers morph into prehistorical claws threatening all within reach to back up less then lose a bit of their own flesh in the social adjustments transcending
  7. There are no high fives on a first day with children like this. The palms of their hands turn into the paws of tigers. They can withstand all dragging across the floor if teachers were to need to drag them to their first class. 
  8. Their ears stretch out like those of cows becoming capable to hear their mommies voice even 45 minutes later having safely arrived home. 
  9. Though 8 or some years away from puberty, they grow out the beard of a goat and their bleating sounds very much like a curse from hell from which 
  10. their horns grow out like a stag
  11. and their eyes darken into those of a demon. 
In my 10 years as an early childhood educator I have seen many of these traits present themselves but never, ever, had I witnessed them all at once...and so suddenly. Meet Dragon!! A fantastical representation of the Chinese heroic creature from which we aptly appropriated his new English name. Though we have been through these "tricky" first timers before, when one is in the thick of the madness it is often hard to believe in the peace after the storm. 

There was certainly some crying in the morning when Dragon came to school. But he was always quick to get on with the activities of the day and wipe his own tears away. His fierceness however would strangely erupt at pick up time. Just when all the other children were so happy to see their mommies, Dragon who had been a tame beast all day would transform, once again, into his fiercest manifestation. For me the whole thing was pretty funny. But I remember Dragon's mom being tremendously confused and overwhelmed. Soon enough, she was not in charge of pick up anymore. Apparently, only Dragon's daddy could calm him. 

Dragons are supposed to have a good appetite. And our little dragon most definitely did but he sure didn't like the idea of having to eat by himself. But, slowly but surely, within the first month at our school, our little dragon gave in and rather than starving he learned to eat on his own. 

Potty training was the big one for our dreadful monster! I remember him getting so mad at me upon peeing his pants! You see he used to stare at me with a fierce glare and I can only imagine that what he really wanted was for me to help him walk to the bathroom and pull down his pants and hold his penis so he wouldn't drip on his underwear. NO WAY! Not me! Not at MT:) Our primary goal for the first 3 weeks of school is for all children to be potty trained, eating independently and enjoying a healthy balance of playing by themselves and with others through out the day. With little dragon every aspect of his integration into the program happened with quite a bit of ease but when it came to pee-pee time we all had to cover our ears in the presence of his roar! 

Sleep time was never difficult for our little dragon. I can only imagine that when it was time for the children's nap, he fell to sleep with considerable ease due to the exhaustion of his potty training:)

Now, 4 months after he has joined our school, Dragon is an example for all other young toddlers to follow. Those who see him applaud his interaction with admiration. But only those of us who were near him through his process of assimilation know the terrible beast he once used to transform into!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Meet Season!

Who is this? Nî shì shuí?

Once upon a time there was a baby. Her name was Season…

“Hello, how are you?”, I said on her very first day of school. She said, “Who is this?”, looking at her mom. I said, “I’m Glow. Do you want to play with me?” Instantly, we played, laughed and explored her “new home” happily interacting and talking with all teachers. Right up until naptime, all was ok.
她来到学校的第一天我问她:“ 喂,你好吗?”她看着她妈妈回答说,“你是谁?”我说:“我是Glow,你想跟我一起玩吗?”我们很快地一起愉快地玩耍,开心地笑,并在我的陪伴下一起探索她的“新家”,她可以和所有老师开心的交谈。直到睡午觉之前,一切正常。

Then Season’s mom said, “Season only falls asleep if she’s holding my hand. And she takes quite some time to fall asleep.” As she slipped away, Season’s contagious laughter turned into deafening crying and seemingly endless tears. Naturally, as a two year old, Season was unable to understand why her mom had left. In her mind, she was abandoned to strangers. This is by far one of the most transformational experiences for children during their first days of kindergarten. As with all children Season was now in a new environment with new friends, new routines and new caretakers. Trust needed time to grow.  

For Season this came quite quickly! Two hours later she finally calmed down and allowed for a conversation with me. I was so happy! This is one of my favorite moments with all kids: winning over their trust!

That first week she followed me everywhere saying, “Can you hold me please? Can you hug me?” As long as she was holding someone’s hand she didn’t cry. Although, she was content without her mom she was still relentless in her need to be near another adult. This a very natural 2nd phase for many kids as they transition into a comfortable enjoyment of independence.

As the weening continued, a stormy season ensued for Season’s mom. Several mornings in a row during her second week, Season would come to the school with wet cheeks. Her mom said that on their drives to school, Season kept crying and saying, “I don’t want to go to the kindergarten”. Now, there was good reason for this. At school, we had started encouraging her to pull up her pants by herself after going to the potty. Many children do not like this. It feels like the “new” adults in their life don’t care. During lunch and snack all children must learn to sit and eat at the table without an adult next to them. Season didn’t like this. Naptime was also very difficult. Season didn’t have her mommies’ hand anymore.

But as it goes with all children that come through our doors, finally, the sun shone again for Season and her mom. One day, during her 3rd week, Season went through a whole day without crying. That day we celebrated big time! Season went with one of our teacher’s on what we call, “A Special Big Girls’ Walk”. Her prize would be an ice cream but probably more importantly, in the long run, the praise and the feeling that she was now growing up! Waiting for her back at school, was her friends, teachers and mom chanting, the popular Chinese words of, “Jiayou!!”
但是,所有的来幼儿园的孩子都是一样的,最后Season和她的妈妈的脸上再一次充满笑容。在第三周的一天,Season一整天都没有哭,那天我们庆祝这个伟大的时刻,Season和我们的一个老师一起出去,我们趁它为“大女孩的特殊出行”。她的奖品是冰淇淋, 但更重要的是, 从长远来看对她的赞美和她的感受, 她现在长大了!她的朋友、老师和她妈妈都在学校里等她回来,并高呼 “加油”!

As new kids came to school, during the weeks thereafter, many of them went through their “crying seasons” too. The funniest part is that, Season, started acting like a big sister. And was often found helping other children put on their shoes or saying, “Don’t cry! It’s okay. You can do it.” Or my personal favorite, “You want an ice cream!”

by Glow Alvarado