Monday, March 31, 2014

The Sky is Broken

As we were driving along to Eli's school this morning, I heard a gasp from the back seat. Eli exclaimed, "Oma!  The sky is broken! It has a crack in it!"  It turned out just to be the water trail from a plane....but my explanation confused Eli. Especially when I laughingly threw in extra information about Henny Penny ("The sky is falling, the sky is falling")....I forgot that we hadn't read this story together, and Eli took me seriously (at first). Poor guy...when I left him at school, he was still slightly puzzled.  I think he's stuck somewhere between thinking that the sky MIGHT actually be falling and that clouds are made from airplanes passing gas (since the exhaust comes out from behind the airplane's tail).

On another note, we are back tracking with the night training. Eli is struggling to get up to go to the bathroom at night, and he's not physically capable of going through the night without needing to wake up at least once.  He did a great job on Friday night and Saturday night (though he had a small accident near morning time), but last night was kinda rough. He started to ask for a pull-up, then changed his mind, then had a major accident (even after waking up to use the bathroom at around 11). We will see...I might MAKE him wear a pull up during the week, and let him try again over spring break (when life is at a slightly slower pace).

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Night Training

Ha! Eli is doing it on his own : ). He's been daytime potty trained for almost a year now, and other than a few accidents at his old school (which I firmly believe were the fault of his teachers), he's done a great job. We haven't broached night-time training with him at all, for many reasons. First, Eli had a lot of sleep issues when he came home from Korea - and after the first 6-8 months with little sleep, I was NOT about to wake a happily sleeping toddler for potty time.  Second, Eli had become a very, very deep sleeper and seemed to be unable/unaware of his need to use the bathroom while asleep. Third, he is growing up and gaining independence so quickly, I knew it was just a matter of time before he figured it out on his own. And as stupid as this sounds, a pull-up is the last bit of Eli's toddlerhood; when he stops using them, I will have to admit that my little baby is now a preschooler.  Patrick has been laughing at my (admittedly) ridiculous sentimentality over this.

At his new school, he firmly refused (from day 1) to wear pull-ups for nap time. We knew that the other kids in his class would not be wearing pull-ups, so the weekend before, we let him try to go without a pull up. He was successful on Saturday, but not Sunday. On Sunday, he told us he'd prefer to have a pull up at nap, so I packed a few in his backpack. However, when the other kids in the class said that pull-ups were for babies, the peer pressure gave Eli the push he needed to not use the pull up. So did seeing the pull-up wearing toddlers/babies across the hall from his classroom ; ).  The great part is that since Eli decided that he didn't need the pull up at nap time, he truly hasn't needed it. After nearly 3 weeks of not wearing a pull up for naps, Eli came home and said he didn't want to wear 'night pants' (pull-ups) anymore. He told us that he knew "those are really diapers" and that he is a big boy.

Yikes. We told Eli that if he wanted to try going without a pull-up at night that he could try it on a Friday (because I would have extra time Saturday to wash bedding). I secretly put disposable "puppy pads" under his sheet (to protect his mattress), then we tucked him in. I woke him at 11, before I went to bed to go to the bathroom, which he did (and went back to sleep seamlessly). Patrick and I left the hall light on last night, in case Eli needed it for the bathroom. Eli woke at about 6 AM saying he'd wet the bed and still needed to go potty. We told him to go on and potty while we looked at his bed. He'd had a tiny accident - I actually think this is what woke him up - but nothing even hit the sheets.

Night one: Success!

Night two: Anybody's guess!!

I talked to Eli this morning, and he was very, very proud of himself for "not needing to wear a diaper or pull-ups". I explained to him that as long as he wanted to get up at night and use the potty when he needed it, he didn't have to wear pull-ups - BUT if he started getting too tired to get up or having a lot of accidents, we would use the pull-ups for a little while longer. He was very happy with this arrangement, and cheerfully told me that he didn't need the pull-ups anymore.

Like so many other things, I've decided to wait and see what he does. If he shows us that he's truly not ready in the next few days, I'll put him back in pull-ups for a couple months and tell him that he has to stay dry in order to not wear them anymore.  If he's really ready...look out world!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Week 1: School Update

Okay, so we've officially been at the new school for a week. Eli is loving his new teachers, and REALLY loving some of the activities he gets to do. He is much more relaxed and a lot happier. His teachers go out of their way to reach each child at his/her level, and I can already tell a difference in Eli. First off, he's a lot more enthusiastic about what he's learning. Second, the teaching style is so different, and Eli's learning a LOT more. The teachers are very creative, and a lot of physical movement is incorporated into the learning.  His previous teacher relied mainly on coloring pages and activities that revolved around coloring. At his age, coloring is the precursor to writing, so it IS important....but it's not the only activity that can be done with kids his age. In the last week, Eli's done everything from painting, cutting, coloring, attempting to write letters/words (he had begun writing at home before we started the new school), decorating letters with mosaic tiles, learning about Latin America, practicing "weather words" (rainy, cloudy, sunny) and time words (months of the year/days of the week), and recognizing all of his numbers (0-9, in both handwritten and digital forms). The lessons for this week include for the children to learn numbers 0-30, follow patterns, and to write their letters and their names.  We have always worked with Eli at home and discussed things like this as he became interested, but the activities he's doing at school have lit a new fire under him. And seeing his new friends so excited about learning is giving him such a positive attitude. Even when the teachers are working with the class on the letter "B", they include questions like, "What words start with b?" and "What words end with b?", so the lesson reaches the kids who really don't know the letter, as well as kids (like mine) who need to think a little more.  LOL....I only know this because when we left school, Eli was happy to point out his work, and he gave me the entire rundown on what words start with "B" or the "buh" sound (banana, bus, book, bed, etc). Then, he started asking about other words, "What does 'Sadie' start with? It doesn't have a "buh" sound in it." He is re-interested in reading since his teachers are so encouraging and sweet, and is now "pretend reading" books to his stuffed animals (the children are encouraged to "pretend read" books to one another - this consists of telling a story about the pictures in a book). He had also previously been interested in telling time and dialing phone numbers....and the learning he's done this week has enabled him to now do this very independently. He was able to dial Grandpa's phone number by himself yesterday...and although he did have to ask for Grandpa's phone number, it's only a matter of time before he has it memorized : ).

Even simple things are better...such as recess time when it's rainy. At his old school, when outside time couldn't be done, the kids stayed in and had a free-for-all. At the new school, the teachers have a variety of planned indoor activites for the kids during inclement Wii dancing (which, apparently, Eli is REALLY good at....I wish I could have seen this!). I also love that I get an end of the week report card (with a folder of his work for the week) on Friday. This was an unexpected treat, and it was really nice to have individual comments and suggestions for him. It was also a nice change of pace; previously I just spoke to his teacher at the end of each day. His teacher would only tell me whether he had a "good day" or a "bad day," and I wouldn't get much else (except the coloring pages sent home a few times a week). 

We did, however, have our first school-related meltdown last night. Eli was very excited (and VERY overstimulated). This was partly because Patrick and I broke our own rules about screen time during the week and let Eli play Wii on a school night. This made it very difficult for him to settle down for bedtime, and a meltdown ensued. He was upset that he couldn't stay up late (because it was a school night) and came apart emotionally. It was slightly reminiscent about what we'de seen before the school change, although he was mostly frustrated that he couldn't have his way (rather than anxious about the following day). He was all smiles and giggles this morning, thankfully. From being excited about his "Star Wars" shirt, to being happy about his "cheese hearts" I included in his lunch, he was very content when I took him at school this morning.

Friday, March 14, 2014

What child is this?

Someone is having a great time in his new school. We've had a fantastic first week, and Eli is loving it. I know that we are in sort of a 'honeymoon' period with the new school, but I am noticing a lot of differences that make me very grateful that we listened to Eli and switched caregivers.  While I would prefer less screen time at school (they get TV time during each of three quiet times - before/during breakfast, after lunch/before nap, and after the "school day" portion is technically done and they are waiting on parent pick up), I don't mind their reasons for doing so.

First - he's had zero time outs. None at all.  He's not been in trouble once this week...and his moods have improved at home, too. He's is much happier overall, and is significantly more relaxed.

He's also had zero accidents. None. Nada. Zilch. I hope I am not jinxing myself by writing this, but because of the easily accessible restroom and the expectation that he will use it, Eli's been fine. He has even been dry during nap times - no pull-up needed : ). I know that he is really enjoying not having his previous teachers constantly nag him about using the restroom. I think that he had continued to use pull-ups at nap time simply because his former teacher didn't think he was capable of doing better.

Bed time has also become pretty awesome (again, hope I'm not jinxing myself!). He went to bed the last couple of nights with no fussing or whining. He is genuinely tired at the end of the day : ). For the last two nights, he simply stated, "I'm tired. I need to go to bed."  Patrick and I are still relishing those words. Not to say that he's stopped whining at all...but his anxiety about bedtime and having to go to school in the morning has vanished.  Although he was still tired this morning when it was time to get up, he still got ready for school without complaint.  At drop off time, he went to hug one of his teachers, and to see what the other kids were doing that morning.

I also love that I am allowed to supplement his lunch with extra food from home. He was coming home so hungry at the end of each day, that I'd begun to make sure I always had a banana or snack in the car for him.  I spoke with his teachers about this multiple times, and they insisted that he was a good eater and that he was eating double or triple portions at school. His teachers at his new school have been astounded at how much Eli will put away in a single sitting. Today, for example, I packed him some leftover pancakes, bacon and an egg (from last night's breakfast-for-dinner), a small amount of honey for his pancake), roasted asparagus, blueberries, and cheese wedges. I am reasonably sure that it will all disappear....along with his school lunch! Thankfully, Eli is growing and gaining weight, so we know where it's all going : ). He is comfortably on his growth curve (albeit at the bottom 3rd-5th percentile of the American growth chart). 

Finally, he is learning SO much!  At his previous school, I knew (for the most part) what was being taught. I also knew that Eli was a little bored with the lessons. He already knew the vast majority of what his teacher was allowing him to work on (like learning colors, letters or numbers), and her teaching style was not enjoyable for him.  Since she found out that he could read simple words (he managed to keep this hidden for a loooonngg time), she began to make him to practice some of the Dolch sight words. She did drill some of them into his head, but it was making reading less fun for him. Since we've left, Eli has a strongly renewed interest in reading and books. The last few days, he has been coming home with new information and understanding each day. From showing us how to run a soccer drill he'd learned (which also helped reinforce left and right directions), to telling us about how plants have roots, stems, and leaves, he is a lot more excited about what he's doing.

Here's to hoping that he continues to thrive at the new school : )!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Mid-Week Musing

It was so wonderful to see my sweet son walking down the sidewalk with me yesterday, chatting about the sights (mostly flags hanging in doorways and birds) and the possibility of him playing soccer at his new school. He had ice cream (strawberry!) in one hand and a spoon in the other; we stopped every 5 or 6 steps for him to take a bite. I can't believe he's three!! It was the picture of what I'd always thought our relationship would be at this age...comfortable, happy, relaxed, and fun.  I wish I had my camera....but I was also glad to not have it  : ).

And it's amazing to see how much happier he is about his change in schools, too. I think the change did a lot for building trust between the three of us. He was happy and excited this morning, though he did remind me several times NOT to turn down the road that his old school was on.  I wish I knew sooner how badly that he was feeling, but I am grateful that we moved him when we did. We did have a meeting at the local Montessori school, which I thought Eli would love. He did like the school, but after the meeting/evaluation (which he passed very easily), Eli asked if he could stay in his new school. He likes it better : )!

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Very Different Morning

At the end of last week, Patrick and I enrolled Eli in a new preschool. Friday afternoon, I took him to meet his new teachers and classmates, see his classroom, and learn about his new routines. Later that evening, we talked about going to his new school on Monday, and how he would have new teachers and new friends.  He was really excited and first. An hour or so later, Patrick and I were discussing going to get Eli's supplies from his old school, including his chair bag (which he is very much attached to, since he picked out the fabric and watched me make it for him). He began to fuss and to tell us that we couldn't bring his chair bag home, because he "would need to use it at his school."  We re-explained that he wouldn't be going back to that school, and he finally realized what was happening. After a few minutes of tears (because he really will miss the routines and his friends), he was happy again about the change.  Saturday, he was even happier because he shares a craft class with one of his friends (Luke) from his old class, and he realized that he could still see Luke outside of school. This weekend, though, I still had some doubts about the move; although I really liked the new school on our tour, I wondered if Eli would be upset or confused about leaving behind his friends and the only school he's been to. I absolutely believe that the change is in Eli's best interests...but I was afraid that the first day(s) would be hard on him.

This morning is the first time, in a VERY long time that I've seen Eli so happy to be in school.

We do have to get up a bit earlier, and I was braced for the whining and complaining that we have become used to. It never happened. As I was waking him up, I told him that he needed to get up to go to school.  He perked up, "My new school? Yay!". He went to eat his first breakfast (he eats breakfast at home and at school), then got himself dressed and ready.  He reminded me to get his lunchbox multiple times (he is very excited to take his lunch to school; we weren't allowed to at his previous school). On the drive over, he reminded me multiple times not to "go down the old road" towards his old school. He got really, really excited when I drove right past the "old road" and made the next turn off for his new school. At the stop sign in front of his new school, he started bouncing in excitement, exclaiming, "My new school! There it is!! Yay!"  He couldn't get out of the car and into the building fast enough : )...though he did stop to ask about playing on the playground and/or riding the bus for a field trip.  He bounded in, handed his lunchbox off to the nearest teacher, and ran for the classroom.  I did corral him long enough to show him where to put "pack pack" and his jacket, then the teacher and I walked him over to where the other students were gathered and eating breakfast.  One of the teachers in the room greeted him very warmly, and he went over to give her a hug.  I actually had to say goodbye from across the room when I left, because he was already interacting with the other kids.  It was wonderful to see him so relaxed...and quite frankly, I am thrilled (and shocked) to see such a 180 degree difference. Here's to hoping that he is just as happy when I pick him up from school today!

Friday, March 7, 2014

New School (?!)

It is with a sigh and heavy heart that Patrick and I think a change of school is best for Eli. And yes, we are changing in the middle of the year : (. Eli is no longer happy at his current preschool, and I firmly believe that it is NOT separation anxiety. Every day that I pick him up from school he tells me "I am NOT going back to that school."  The really funny part is that, after today, he might be right : ).

We are struggling with teachers who, we feel, are not always forthcoming and who are entirely too strict for Eli's needs. Eli is a very kind, empathetic child, who is definitely a "people pleaser."

This was not a problem when Eli first started here. We used to love this school and I used to be so happy that we found such a good place for Eli to learn. Eli used to love going to school. However, since his previous teacher has seemingly vanished, things have definitely slowly soured.

It began with Eli having accidents at school. One day, while bringing home a "wet bag", Eli announced that he HAD to go to the bathroom NOW. I sighed, and started taking him out of his car seat to go back inside his school. He resisted going into his school, saying he would just "hold it in" or pee on the sidewalk. I took him in anyway, and explained to his teacher that we needed a restroom. She proceeded to follow us into the restroom, scold me for "turning the light on FOR him and not making him do it" and stood over him/me the entire time we were there - telling me how to take MY KID to the bathroom.  There were many issues at play here. First, I found out that they make Eli turn on the light for himself to go to the bathroom. Eli is 3 and short - he cannot reach the light switch. So, for him to go to the bathroom at school, he has to drag a stepstool several feet to the switch, climb up, jump to turn the switch on, drag the step stool back to the toilet, use it to climb on a very large adult toilet (larger than the ones in our home), and perch precariously on the edge while trying to go to the bathroom.  I know his teachers disagree with me, but I felt like this was waaayyy too much to ask of 2 and 3 year olds.

Then, Eli started coming home and telling me that his teachers were mad at him, among other things. When I talked to his teachers, they first said that all was fine, and he was a good boy, etc. Then, one of the teachers started saying things like, "but he's always taking toys away from other kids, and wouldn't stay seated yesterday when we were serving lunch, and he is in time out almost every day."  My issue is that I had never been told any of this... and his teacher was acting like these are major transgressions.

Finally, I broke the news to his teachers today that Eli would be transferring to another school. They were very, very surprised - and I think, a little hurt.

We are hoping to pursue placement in a Montessori-based school, but we will have to wait until his evaluation day. I think it will be an excellent fit for him, in that he will have a lot of control over what he is learning, and in that a Montessori school is a very academically-rich environment. In the meantime, we hope to send Eli to a local daycare until the school year is over.