Wednesday, September 12, 2012

School Daze

Look who started preschool last week!

Jack in his 2-year old classroom.  He looks excited!

With Mommy on his first day of school!

With Daddy

Just walking down the hall like he owns the place!

   Before school started and after receiving advice from other Ds mommies out there, I composed an "All About Me" book and gave it to Jack's teachers at his open house.  I thought it may help the teachers understand Down syndrome a little more and help them see that although Jack does have Down syndrome, his diagnosis does not, by any means, define who he is or what he is capable of.  I wanted to make sure they knew that Jack is more like his classmates than he is different.  I included a section called "Just Jack" which listed little "Jack" things (non-Ds related), like his favorite songs, books and toys.  I also included sections "About Down Syndrome" (facts and myths), "How Ds Affects Jack",  "2012 Goals" (IFSP goals) and "References".  (I was able to find some helpful information about making such a booklet through the Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas's Educator Packet and the Down Syndrome Association of West Michigan's Supporting the Student with Down Syndrome packet.)

Jack's preschool is a small church-based school that he attends just two days per week for 3 hours per day.  We thought that giving him this opportunity would allow him to learn from other typically developing children and provide him with more social interaction and play than he already gets by attending classes with me (like The Little Gym and his music class).  We honestly thought Jack would LOVE preschool, given that he is so social, easygoing, and doesn't seem to know a stranger. 

Well, apparently we were wrong.  I wish I could tell you it's going "swimmingly" but it truly is not.  Unfortunately our little buddy is having a very difficult time adjusting to this new routine.  I have gotten calls two out of three days so far, telling me that Jack has cried unconsolably all morning long (VERY unlike him), and his teacher even recommended that I pick him up an hour early yesterday.  This is breaking my heart, because Jack is typically a very happy-go-lucky little camper who's always up for new things.  He has never cried for 2 hours straight ... not even as an infant. 

Jack's teachers are not as concerned as I am, of course.  They say that some kiddos just have a tough time adjusting and just need extra time to get used to the classroom environment and routine.  We are thinking of doing "half" days for a while, having Jack just go for an hour and a half instead of the full three hours for a few weeks to see if that helps.  Although I fear it may be distracting or unfair to other kids in the class, I also mentioned maybe bringing Jack's beloved iPad, because I thought it might help soothe him to have something familiar in the classroom.  (The teachers have to get approval from administration about this, though.)  Some other Ds mommies who I've reached out to for help suggested maybe me sitting in on the class for about an hour or so a few days to make sure Jack knew that I was there and that everything was okay.  I haven't mentioned this to the teachers or administrators yet and I am not sure if they will allow this, but I guess it's worth a shot. 

We have never experienced Jack having separation anxiety before now.  He spends plenty of time away from me while I am at work, so I know it's not just me.  (But to be fair, when I am at work, he is in the care of others in our own home where he is most comfortable, and there are no other kids around.)  Also, he is around large groups of children a lot because I take him to several classes, but then again,  I am always there with him.  We're thinking that Jack maybe just gets overstimulated with the new group of people whom he does not know or doesn't feel comfortable around yet.  (The weird thing is that he has always done fine with strangers in the nursery at church on Sundays.)  We've also pondered that perhaps this is just an age thing ... I mean, they don't call it the "terrible twos" for no reason, right?!?!  ;)

The truth is, we're not certain what's going on or how to fix it, so I am seeking any advice from other mommies out there who have gone through something similar!  Please comment if you have any suggestions!  Thanks!

Daddy is dropping Jack off at school tomorrow, so maybe it might go more smoothly if it's not ME doing the deed.  We shall see ... keep your fingers crossed for us! 

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