Monday, February 11, 2008

Bi-polar choir experience

Reece went to her choir class last night, after having last Sunday off for the Super Bowl. She was excited to go. When we arrived a few minutes late (this church's campus is huge... it took me 8 minutes to walk from Riley's building to Reece's! lOL), she was concerned she would miss the craft time. She went right over to join a table of children, and started to color. I let her handle everything with the teachers on her own.

The 2nd craft was a foam heart-shaped kit like you would get from Oriental Trading. The teachers set it all out and told the kids to go do it. Reece was completely confused, so I did step in to guide her on that part. Once she figured out what she was doing, I backed off again.

There was some extra time before we went to the other room to sing, and the kids played with wooden blocks. Reece loves that, and she readily joined the other 12 children near the small box of blocks. Can you see where I'm going with this? I look up to find her in the corner crying. Apparently, she doesn't understand the concept of "grab a huge handful of blocks before the other 12 children do it and there are no blocks left". So I went over and sat with her, while we tried to solve this together. I offered up that we could ask if anyone would share. The first girl we asked said, "NO!" Thanks, kid. The little girl on the other side of Reece offered a few blocks, and Reece built a small house. She wanted a roof, but she didn't have the right piece. I suggested that we could trade one of our pieces with someone else. She was still so upset at the lack of blocks, that this didn't work. The little girl who had shared the blocks earlier offered to trade for Reece, but by that time, it was time to go to the other room for singing.

I had given Reece a warning that we would be leaving in a few minutes, but the block experience through her for a loop. She started crying again. One of the teachers told me it would be OK if I wanted to stay behind and let Reece play with the blocks, but that's not a trend I would like to be established. She would be very happy to let the kids all leave so she can have all the toys to herself. That's not the point of this little experiment!

I walked her into the other room with her class and she sat down in the front row. I thought to myself, "OK, all is good." I was wrong. The teacher started asking the kids if they had been good boys and girls and did they have a good week, etc. Reece must have thought this was a personal question, because the next time I look over (Her teacher was asking me a question about handling the meltdowns and how I wanted that to be handled), she is lying in the floor crying. The kids are all looking at her and looking at me.

I moved her to the back of the room, and asked her what's wrong. "The teacher doesn't like me. She didn't let me talk." ::sigh:: I tried to explain to her that the teacher cannot talk to every child in the room, because there are too many children (more than 30). I tried to get her to go back and sing the songs, but she was still crying, this time saying, "I can't sing. I don't know the songs! I can't do it." By this time, I have to admit that my patience was exhausted. I told her probably not the most RDI-friendly, "If you are going to keep crying, we're going to go home." She insisted she didn't want to go home. This went on for a few more minutes, and the next song came on and the teachers were handing out the instruments. She brightened and rejoined the class.

After that point, she was a different child. She was happy, and actively participating in the singing, and the instrument playing/sharing, and the music note/rest reading. There were only 2 things I had to get involved in: she was banging her rhythm sticks on the ground after the teacher said not to, and she was getting too wound up during the bean bag passing song.

Singing time was over and we went back to the other classroom to prepare to go home. I took this time to finish answering her teacher's question about my desires for handling Reece. She asked if I wanted them to indulge her to keep her happy. I told them most definitely not. She needs to learn the rules of the classroom and be expected to keep them as they would expect another child of her age. That's the whole reason I'm in the classroom... to provide the extra scaffolding and framing of the classroom activities while she gets used to them. If I felt that she wasn't capable of handling this situation, then I wouldn't even try to have her participate. She needs a little extra assistance and time in understanding the classroom procedures. I don't want her to think that she can control the teachers and classmates.

It was time to go and Reece was trying to get the blocks back out. Her teacher went over to her and told her it was time to go, but they would have the blocks back in the classroom next week for her to play with. She was resistant, but the teacher was firm. Reece then handed her sucker stick to the teacher and said, "I'm done." The teacher told her she can throw it in the trash. Reece replied, "No, you do it." The teacher looked at me, then looked back at Reece and said, "Nope, you can do it! The trash can is right behind you." Reece took care of it herself. I smiled at the teacher and said, "Yep, that's the way to do it."

All in all, I think Reece is going to really do well in choir as soon as she's been a few weeks in a row. If not, then we'll try again in the fall. The kids her age will sing in April, and I'm not sure if Reece will be able to handle that. I spoke with the teacher about it, and we decided that we'll have her go through the dress rehearsal right before the program, and if she gets overwhelmed at any point, we'll just sit this performance out. We have plenty of time before then, though.

We got home from choir and my brain shut down. LOL Having to help the kids handle back-to-back situations is so draining. We have another new big situation coming this week: a Valentine party with a new homeschool group we are considering joining. Keep your fingers crossed!


poohder said...

Jennifer, sound's like you handled it as best you could.
Soon she'll begin to understand that people have intentions and not JUST actions.(the next level of intersubjectivity). Until my dd learned that, she had lots of meltdowns too. I do understand how draining it can be. You are doing great. Rhonda

Lisa Quing said...

Sounds like the transitions are the issue. You're great at figuring out solutions, Jen, and I admire how patient you are with Reece AND with the teachers.

Prince Andrew and the Queen Mum said...

Hang in there girlfriend;) I feel your pain... You are a great mom!

Niffercoo said...

Rhonda - That makes me feel better to know that that understanding will come with time.

Lisa - I didn't feel very patient that's for sure! But thank you!

Queen mum - It's so nice not to be alone on this journey!