Moments that some thought unimaginable. Here are some of the building blocks at CHILD, and the joy we experience every day:
Friendship: Upon his admission to CHILD in the fall, his Mom reported he had never experienced the joy of friendship with a peer. By the start of summer, his teachers reported, “He gets along with classmates and Mom shared he has even experienced the fun of several sleep-overs. He has friends.
Trust: From her first day at CHILD, she clung to the same instructional assistant assigned to her classroom, never willing to interact with another, or engage with peers. When an accident required that instructional assistant to be on leave, all of us were truly amazed when this student ably adjusted to working with other staff members. She has learned to trust.
Self-Regulation: Typically, she remained in an agitated state, needing lots of assistance to reach a regulated state. She was not able to stay focused in a classroom for more than a few minutes at a time. At the start of summer break, this student’s teacher reported that she could remain in a classroom with her peers relying solely on scheduled breaks. Three months had passed since the last time she required an unscheduled exit from her class. She is learning self-regulation skills.
Readiness to Learn: When asked to recite them, she could not remember the sight words she learned just the day before. Unlocking new words with phonetic tools was not working for her either. Staff continued to experiment with different methods. Then, just before this school-year ended, this student dazzled all when she showed that she not only could remember lists of words, she was also mastering the skill to decipher new words. She is mastering the art of learning, becoming a reader.
Engagement: Upon his entry to CHILD, he announced "I am sad, I am always sad. I am not happy, so I do not smile, I do not like to smile". By the school year’s end, this pre-teen could be seen engaging with his peers and involved in classroom discussions. Pride in his accomplishments was evidenced in frequently seen smiles. He has found reasons for happiness.
Inquisitiveness: When a recent CHILD alumnus visited in late spring, his previously unseen inquisitiveness impressed his former CHILD teachers. He asked many thoughtful questions about Athens and the Olympics, the unit that was being studied by members of the last class he attended at CHILD. He is developing intellectual curiosity.
Another affirmation from a classroom team:
Flashback: The referring school district described this child as one who refused to take direction and would not sit at a desk; further, it was reported he would yell and scream, run in continuous circles and head butted up to 100 times in a school day.
Transformation begins: Slowly, but surely the shift came. First, he was allowed to lead the exchanges, staff listened intently and engaged with him in his self-directed dialogue. Eventually, he relinquished his characters and his scripting language to express his own feelings and responded to questions with his own thoughts, without prompts. He started making eye-contact. He is using his iPad to create schedules that help him anticipate times for class changes. Most dramatically, his head butting behavior has decreased; he more readily deals with frustration and remains in a regulated state 70% of the time.
Now: Teaching staff were asked, “To what do you attribute this recently-placed student’s newly observed calm, his ability to engage with others, and the sense of trust we are witnessing these days?” His teacher and the instructional assistant assigned to work with him quickly replied, “We were willing to join his world to better understand what he was thinking about.” Doing so allowed us to gain his trust. Since he enrolled at CHILD, his ability to interact with staff and peers has grown significantly. We all see how intelligent he is and that he has already learned so much. When our class was studying evaporation, he made the connection to the sun drying up all the rain, so the Itsy Bitsy Spider could come out once again!