Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Preschool Progress

I feel like the only thing I ever write about these days is preschool, but that is the major focus of Colin's life right now. If you are sick of reading about it stop reading now. Come back next week. 

After the first week, Colin got less and less comfortable at preschool with each day. Culminating in a hour plus tear fest last week (in one day). He was crying when I dropped him off and would start crying again when I picked him up. It was as if he was so relieved to see me he burst forth with all the nervousness he was experiencing.  I spent two hours with the program director last week to discuss what was going on and how to help him (and me) make this adjustment.  After discussing many aspects of Colin's behavior the teacher mentioned that she thought Colin was showing some early signs of anxiety. While I hadn't really considered it with that label, it did make some sense. Certainly he was showing signs of separation anxiety, but we both felt that other things also made him anxious and dealing with those things without me magnifies the anxiety. So we decided that 'gradual immersion' would be a better approach than just 'get over it kid!'.  The plan was/ is for him to go for shorter periods of time more often until we can build his confidence. I also had to really make sure to keep my facial expressions bright and cheery. Previously if Colin got upset during the goodbye, I walked away with my back to him so he would see my face... not the right plan. At pickup I was also not monitoring my facial expression and when he started to falter I would put on the 'oh its okay' face which just reinforced that something was wrong. How many times do I have to learn that lesson??
Day1 (of new plan):
Colin and I arrived an half hour early so he could play before the other kids showed up (a source of anxiety) this backfired a little because he just screamed the entire time knowing I would leave soon. At 9:10 I left a very VERY upset Colin and did my best to make eye contact with him and smile . If you have never smiled at your child while they are screaming and crying for you, you have no idea how difficult that really is, particularly the first time you do it. The plan was for me to return at 10:10 and I was keeping in touch with his teacher so I could hopefully time it while he was happy and end on a 'good note'.  Well, he calmed down after 20 minutes (I should tell you I told him it would be a short day) and didn't get upset again so I returned at 10:30 to a happy kid. Once again I really had to keep my expression in check,  he looked like he would cry but I didn't let my face mirror his concern and he quickly lost the expression, and turned to show me what he made at school (a 'sillycrow' aka a 'scarecrow' that isn't scary). He was happy to leave but confident about coming back.
This time we only came 5 minutes early. Colin basically whined and cried about going to school from the moment he woke up.  I was not feeling very brave myself and really fought my own emotions to keep a positive attitude. Again, he was crying the moment we walked in the room, but today I only stayed until 9:05 and by 9:10 he was happy. Unlike the week previous, he was no longer gaining and loosing control periodically. I got pictures and updates from the program director throughout the time he was there and he was happy the whole time, once he settled down. When I came to get him he was playing with play-dough and showed only a slight faltered expression but lost the expression as soon as it appeared. This time he didn't want to leave!!
He is really showing signs of improvement in the classroom (including starting to interact with other kids). However there is some carry over at home. He is now really nervous about me leaving him alone even with just his dad! Sean usually puts him to bed and it has a bit of a struggle to pass him off the last few nights, and I'm only going to the living room!  I'm hoping as preschool improves more this will also get better. I'll update you on this weeks progress another time.
I haven't uploaded our weekend pictures yet so I'll have to post them later. Besides that is a whole different post.


Julie said...

it's interesting to read about colin's separation issues because i am going through something similar with annabelle. however, i am trying the "get over it" approach.

she too will cry when i drop her off and arrive. sometimes she plays with kids while i'm gone and sometimes she needs to be held the entire time.

i am giving it a couple weeks. i have tried various ways to make the drop off" less upsetting for her, but i just make it worse by staying too long.

oh well, stay strong....he's got to get over it eventually. that's what i keep telling myself:)

Erin said...

I'm glad that the school is working with you to find a solution to help Colin adjust to the separation and all of the new anxiety-producing experiences he is facing. I think you are also very fortunate to have the flexibility to try this gradual approach, rather than having a situation where he has to be in a new situation for X number of hours every day -- although I'm sure your school work is suffering! I hope that things continue to progress quickly and you can go back to your 6 hours a week of dedicated work time!

Anonymous said...

As I read your blog I have to say I could easily shed tears for you both but to tell the truth my first ones came in reading what it is like for you. Love you GG

Elaine and Brandon Carder said...

I did write a comment a few days ago. I am surprised that the school has the flexibility to message you/send pictures during the day. That is so great how technology can be a plus at times. How many days does he go per week on this new schedule?