-- In His Strength: September 2005 www.superfluousbanter.org

In His Strength

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength --- Philippians 4:13

Friday, September 16, 2005

Having Fun with Preschoolers

While it normally takes me ten minutes for me to wheel from the LAB Preschool to my house, this past Tuesday it took me twenty-five! At the preschoolers recess, two boys raced me aroun the preschool track in the playground. You would think three laps around a tiny track wouldn't wear one out, but I was pooped!
I can tell when the weekend is drawing near as the children are a bit on the wild side. Yelling, screaming, running around. "But" you ask, "isn’t that a typical preschooler?" A day before the weekend… it’s ten times worse!
What had only been five days since being in the preschool felt like two weeks to me. My back was sore from sitting in my wheelchair all day the day before, but I wasn’t going to let it stop me from getting my fix of three, four and five-year-olds. One man’s work is another man’s play.
Started the day off by reminding children that we don’t pet Ally until the designated opportunities; when we first arrive at preschool, at recess, and again when children are getting ready to leave. Children even instruct their parents as they are dropped off at or picked up from preschool, telling them when it is okay or not okay to pet her. I love it! There are weak moments on occasion, mostly coming from the teachers!
My first duty during centers was playing with a child at the trough, asking him about the play lizards and snakes that were in the dirt, if he plays with dirt at home, what kinds of activities he does at home. He didn't have a sandbox at home. He could correctly identify the colors on the toy snakes and lizard (figured out later his favorite color is “geen” (green). He seemed to skip the letter R in words. Everything else he said to me I had a terrible time understanding. He faced away from me when he talked and mumbled. Maybe I’ll work with him on that next time.
I have never had so much fun playing with preschoolers on the playground as I did today. I spent the whole time racing a few boys around the track , and and came home in dire need of a nap! But it was all worth it. Of course they beat me every time, and had fun doing it too.
I was chewed out for a situation in which I knew nothing about nor had any control over. The teacher from another program got on my case for children being on the playground without a teacher. I was on my way up the ramp on the other side of the playground and her class was in my way so I waited for them to go by. I didn't see that there was no teacher watching our children. I tried not to let the situation get to me, but I just couldnt help thinking about it the rest of the day.
At the end of the day, I received a hug goodbye from a little girl. Two other children cried and I had to try hard to keep my composure, or I would start crying too! The girl didn’t want to go home yet, though she had the same play dough at home. I helped a little boy make a snowman out of play dough complete with googley-eyes, and toothpicks for arms (he insisted on two arms for one side and one for the other). He wanted to show his dad when he came to pick him up. I set it aside and assured him it would be safe. No sooner did I turn my back and it was gone! Another student teacher came by and cleaned everything up. I figured"oh well, he'll probably forget all about it (hopefully) when his dad shows up". NOPE! I felt horrible when his dad showed up and the boy started to cry! Hearing him cry made me want to cry too! (I learned in a class last year that this is called emotional contagion. Funny, I have been wondering about that for years!).


Wednesday, September 07, 2005

1st Day of Preschool

5 PM last night and I was ready for bed. I am wiped still, and we only had six children! I am used to twice that many. I arrived a few minutes early as to get a breifing on what as going to happen that day. I was familiar with a lot of things already as I was an intern at the LAB preschool once before.
12:45 and the children started to arrive.
The children took to seeing Alehe and I very well. We were both a hit. One little boy talked my ear off the moment he arrived. Every time I turned around, Ally was being petted by the same girl. She had some disability that I know I have seen before in another preschooler from a few years ago, so she didn't quite understand when you told her what to do, you had to guide her to each activity or guide her away from something she wanted to do but it wasn't time for. She did not speak at all, but squealed at the top of her lungs to show different emotions. How much she understood of what you said to her I do not know, but what a cutie! I can't wait to start working with more children who have disabilities.
I showed up at the preschool at 12:30pm, stoked at the idea that I was going to "play" with preschoolers. I don't consider it work really, I am having way too much fun for it to be work. I was all over the room, trying to keep my eye on children, trying to interact with them as much as possible; constantly trying to think of questions to ask them about what they are doing, what they like ot do, what they like to do at home, what their favorites were...so on and so forth.
One child begged me to push him on the swings and continued to do so two or three times. I kept having to refuse as I told him that my chair would not roll very well on the bark. I had to stay on the cement or the pavement. Oh how it disappointed me. I played catch with yet another boy. He had one of those paddles that had velcro, so the ball would stick. (Oh how pleases and thankyou's just melt your heart coming from a three-year-old!)
At the beginning of our circle-time I introduced Alehe and I and told the children when the proper time was to pet her. Of course I had children petting her all day long (even the teacher couldnt resist!)
The little squealer was fascinated by my wheelchair. She pushed my chair around the classroom a bit. I had to control how fast she pushed me 'cause I'm sure she would have gone ninety miles an hour or rammed me into tables and such.
I return yet again tomorrow, but I will be in the morning class for a few weeks, just until the children settle down a bit. My supervisor thought it was best that way. Why only a few weeks is because they really need the help in the afternoon. I was the only student teacher in the afternoon class. All other students didnt want afternoons.
Alehe did a great job at the preschool. She didn't seem annoyed at all that children were constantly in her face wanting to give her atttention. At one point she rolled onto her back for the infamous bellyrub.


Friday, September 02, 2005

Final Countdown (Whoa!)

Well, classes officially began Monday, August 29th. So far, so good. I am enrolled in three classes. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays from 9 to 10am I am taking Social Work 310 . We have four short papers due in that class, and since I am notorious in handing in late papers (at lest that's the way it was LAST semester) , I am throwing around ideas for all four, they all must be related anyway. Monday's from 4 - 5 pm I have HFD 494, a seminar class in which each week we have a guest speaker talk about the different careers one can do with an HFD minor. Finally, I will be doing yet another internship (HFD 490) at the Learning and Belonging (LAB) Preschool on the UM campus. It is a preschool I have interned before, but I enjoyed the people and children so much, I couldn't resist working there again. (I am praying it turns into something more than an internship, but where ever God leads I'll gladly follow)
The first day of my last semester. A phase of life finally coming to a close. (Did I jsut say finally?Ha, if you only knew how long I have been in college!) Whoa. I couldn't get that out of my head all day Monday, even as I was sitting in class listening to profs. Oh yea, and "Yikes! I haven't even looked into prospective employment yet!". Guess I better start looking in the newspapers and on the web!
I realized too, that the phrase"first day of school" will take on a whole new meaning for me come the time I start to work. It will be different for me in that I will be teaching, and not the one being taught, although little ones tend to teach me things about life that I often take for granted. But more on that in a later blogpost.
My plans for the future are in God's hands. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I have my dreams and long to see them come to fruition, but not if God doesn't have a part in them. I'm sure everyone knows it, but it is my desire to teach 3, 4, and 5-year old preschoolers. The ideal classroom would be one that fosters Inclusion---teaching students with disabilties in the same classroom as those without disabilities. If the Lord wills that I stay in Montana for it, Which I hope He does, I 'd love Him for it. Somewhere down the road, I wouldn't mind substitute teaching (that way I can teach a variety of different grades) if I ever get tired of or feel like I can't handle the little anklebiters anymore...HA! Like that would ever happen!!!

Last nights first Chi Alpha meeting of the semester was awesome as we had just about every seat in our room filled. Something I had been praying about a long time. For those who missed out, the message came out of Mark 12:28-31. My two two favorite points were "Lord, teach me how to love you heart, soul, mind, and strength" and "God is straining to have a relationship with you!".