Managing and teaching in a shelter child center

Posts tagged ‘Child’

Graduations Part 2

Yesterday was our first ever graduation!  It was wonderful. And definitely an emotional day.

It was held in our class, since the class is in a multipurpose gym. But it was decorated way differently than usual. We went all out for those four children. Caps, gowns, certificates, The whole nine yards. We even got them “kinder-packs”. (more on those later.)

The “ceremony” itself was brief. all the pre-k kids  sang the Winnie the Pooh song for the parents, the four graduates were brought to the back of the room and sort of bounced up to the front in a clump.Since  they’re 5, lines don’t quite happen yet. =) . Each child took their certificate, and joined the parents. a total of 15 minutes, I believe.

But it’s still one of those moments that you remember for being special. I will probably remember the smiles , the looks of pride that they had done something. (although they may not be clear on exactly what yet.) One child had their cap on sideways. One girl tripped on her gown. One skipped down the aisle singing I’m graduating, graduating, graduating. And knowing these particular kids makes it all the more meaningful. I just hope that some day, they will be doing the exact same thing for high school. Or maybe even college.

Now back to the kinder-packs. Each child got a backpack with the uniform for the school they will be going to, a uniform (all slightly large, since the kids will likely grow in two months),some books, two pairs of shoes, jackets, crayons, paper, and whatever was on that school’s kinder list. Also there were some toys. Also there was a card for each, saying how great it was having them in my class, and when they go to kinder, they can still come to my room for after school.

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Grass-An infant’s experience

Okay. Sometimes it really is the simple things that can be the most interesting.sometimes when we go on our picnic days a lot of bigger school kids had the same idea. So I have to keep the infants and younger toddlers on the grass so they won’t get trampled by the older kids. dogs, however, well…. that’s a whole other blog!

Anyway, I’ve written before about the varies ways infants handle their first  (or at least first for a while) grass experiences. Some love it, some hate it, some don’t give it a second thought, and some consider it part of their lunch. But today I’m going to talk about just one child and her grass experience.

Karla(name changed to protect the innocent) has never come out with us before. She is one of the children I worry about. So limp and floppy and unengaged with everything. One of those children that has no light in their eyes at all, and I wonder what horror she might be seeing instead of what is really in front of her. She had to come with usthat day, because the only other care giver she reacts to at all was out sick.

I sat with her flopped in my lap while we watched other kids playing with toys on the blanket we had brought. I saw that she was really watching too. and she was tracking the two other children her age who were rolling balls on the grass. So I got an idea. Maybe she would connect with the grass. I picked a couple of blades and held them for her to look at, explaining grass as best I could. (With infants, you learn to describe all kinds of things you take for granted) I brushed it lightly in her hand,expecting her to scream. She didn’t. She reached for it.

So then I took off her socks and let her brush her feet against it. Not pushing down,or forcing her to stand on it. She put one foot down, pulled it up, looked at me,and did the same thing again. Over and over. If we were having a conversation, it may have been something like this: Karla”I don’t know about this.”

Me”It’s okay. go ahead”

Karla(pulling toes back in)”nope”

Me” go ahead.”

Karla “are you sure about this?”

I think she wanted to make sure that I was there. That I didn’t mind it and that I wasn’t going to let anything happen to her if she changed her mind and wanted off. Eventually she did put both feet down for about three seconds. And she smiled for the first time that I’ve seen in the three months we’ve worked together.

  • Picnick days (littleshelterpreschoolthatcan.wordpress.com)

Gradiations! =D

Translation, Graduations!

Yes, 4 of my pre-k students who had the most challenges and would have been the most likely allowed to defer for an extra year have been accepted to kindergarten. For these four children the step into kindergarten is more like a giant leap. Not only are they all homeless, but they all have physical and emotional challenges that they average 5 year old doesn’t have. 3 of the 4 were unable to to do basic personal care when they arrived. And all were unable to socially younger than their ages. But all of them made it!

I’m embarrassed to say we almost missed it. Somewhere along the line we didn’t pay attention to how far they were progressing. It wasn’t until this morning, when I finally sat down and went over every ones progress cards that these 4 children met and even exceeded all the benchmarks to begin K-1. (our district is doing the experimental 2 part kinder)

So now I am about to notify 4 parents that their child will  be entering the “normal” school world, where they will be just like everyone else for a change. =) .It was only two weeks ago that on of the families was expressing their concerns that their child would never make it to non-specialized schools. And yes, I am also sending complete referrals to the schools with the education plans to continue the outstanding progress they are making.

I used to think that those big pre-k and pre-school graduations were silly. But now I am preparing one for my kids.=) I am trying to find four tiny cap and gown sets, and designing little certificates. Because this is what the other pre-k’s in my area are doing. And my pre-k’s are going to be like everyone else. Silly and over done? probably. But for kids who always feel inadequate and are always hearing, “sorry but we can’t afford..” it will mean the world.

The welcome letter of our parent handbook (numbers/most names/contact info changed)

This is a copy of my welcome letter to the parents. I’m working on it still.

Welcome,

We are excited to work with you and your child at the Elk Center. We hope that your child considers this a safe place to learn and grow.

We know how difficult and frightening being in transition can be.  We want to make this time as easy for you as possible. Please let us know what you need to make yourself and your child more comfortable and self-sufficient. If we can’t help, we probably know who can. We provide an on-site Nurse-practitioner, case management, lists of where to get low cost and free food and clothing, a stroller rental program and many other resources.

Many members of our staff are also residents or have been homeless themselves. We are willing to share what we have learned to help you out. We are also CPR and Pediatric First aid Certified and 90% of us hold permits for associate teacher or higher. The other 10% are currently in school, working toward degrees and/or certification.

At the Elk, your children will have a safe place to play and explore and a caring staff that will provide whatever they need to achieve. Hopefully they also will find a sense of stability and feel like part of a community.

Our major goal is to provide stability and safety for your child while giving them a place to learn. Please let us know what we can to help out. Your ideas are always welcome.

Turtle Travers-Brown

Activity Coordinator/family services case manager

Sometimes I wonder if:

  • Other preschools have to deal with wandering wildlife
  • why parents put their kids in snowsuits,when our center is just downstairs
  • anyone else has water that looks worse than my 9th grader’s science fair project.
  • can’t find a board,because no one really wants to deal with homeless children and their special issues
  • other centers have 99%  “shocky” kids
  • Keep getting told that I don’t meet standards,but no one wants to let me know which standards I’m supposed to meet! (we are way over the shelter standards of 1 adult to countless unknown children)
  • Manages to face all these challenges and still have great parents, a wonderful staff,and for the most part,happy children.
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