Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Freedom's Just Another Word for Nothing Left to Lose...

I feel like we may have had a breakthrough with all this preschool business!  (If we can call 2 days a trend, that is.  Yes, let's go with it.) 

Long story short, about a week and a half ago, we got another troubling email from the teachers.  To give you some idea, the subject line of the message was "continued tears."  Lovely.  Thank you so much for your consideration of my breaking heart.  At any rate, we felt like 7 weeks was a good enough college try and were back on the brink of throwing in the towel.  But a subsequent phone call from one of Georgia's teachers gave us a few more clues to the problem, and a hopeful chance of solving it.

In the course of describing how much Georgia cries, and at what times, and how she behaves when she's not crying, it came to light that Ms. G often bawls inconsolably during free time, but then is all smiles during "morning meeting" - a much more structured activity.  I think the poor girl can't handle feeling lost in space with too many options to choose from.  What can I say? The girl loves authority.  (Not that that causes her to listen to us much at home...but I digress.)

So, we changed her drop off routine so that it no longer ends with me giving her a kiss and hug at the front of the room and departing, but instead involves one extra step of walking her over to the art table, putting a crayon or marker in her hot little hand and saying, "Here you go.  Do this until morning meeting."  Or "draw a tree for Gran."  You get the idea.

It's working!  No tears for 2 days.  (And let us all please ignore the fact that some of the children are now getting dropped curbside; if this routine is what it takes for Georgia, then fine.)  It feels like she's a little toy ship that I'm gently pushing off the shore, and those first few feet of smooth sailing set the course for the rest of her day.  I mean, I'm sure you can imagine that if you cried so hard that you nearly made yourself sick, you might be emotionally overwrought and easily triggered by any little stress for the rest of your day, too.  And now Georgia has even started venturing on to the playground slides rather than standing by her teacher's side the whole time when they go out to play.  Next thing you know, she'll be talking to other children.  (But let's not get ahead of ourselves...) 

A solution so simple, none of us saw it.  I'm sure that reading this you're thinking it should have been obvious all along, but with so much crying at various times during her school day, it was harder than you might think to get to this point.  I really hope I'm not jinxing this turnaround by writing about it, but I'm just so happy and relieved!

I don't want to press our luck, but our next goal to tackle will be getting Georgia to relinquish the small blue dog that she holds each day since the kids aren't supposed to have stuffed animals unless they're freaking out.  Hopefully the stuffed monkey that I've told her is watching her from her bag will suffice as a substitute.  You'd think a surreptitious primate would be frightening, but apparently it comforts her.


jessica said...

Yay! Keep us posted.

Crystal said...

Go Georgia!

Susan said...

Yeah Georgia (and Kate and Joe)! I hope the rest of the week went as well. You're going to be able to write a parenting book of your own on this subject.

Sarah said...

Thank goodness!
It's about time! I thought distractions and keeping kids occupied would be first line intervention in preschool!