Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Just Heard from Rachel

"Yum, what's that yummy smell? Is that the meat for dinner?"

Yes, yes it is. And it's nice to hear that kind of enthusiasm about it!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rachel Update

Not an original title, but there you have it.

Rachel has been doing better behavior-wise since she started back to school, which is what I thought would happen. We're still having some outbursts from her at times, but they are milder for the most part and are not as frequent, either. In addition to school, we've also been working hard for a while on being calmer in the face of her frustration and anger and tantrums, and I think that has helped, too. She seems to be grasping the concept that inappropriate behavior (like screaming at us or acting out physically) will land her in her room for a time out. And she knows that, if she chooses not to go to her room voluntarily, she will be carried there and the door will be shut. We put a plastic doorknob cover on the inside of her door handle since she was so defiant about staying in her room when told to go there, so she's not able to open it up if we close it. She'd rather be able to control entry to and exit from her room, so she usually chooses to go there herself.

It's great because she's able to still have a feeling of making the choice and deciding how the situation will play out, but we're also able to have the alternative when she just continues to make wrong choices and be disruptive and disrespectful. We've been leaving her door open at night so that she can come out if she needs us or has to use the bathroom, but she's been doing a good job going to sleep and staying in bed most nights. Occasionally she'll come in and wake up if she's had a bad dream, but that seems to be tapering off, too.

Yesterday was a particularly good day where she got all of her responsibilities done fairly early. She went downstairs with me when I worked out and watched a little Dinner: Impossible and a show on HGTV while I did free step, but she mostly spent her time coloring and doing other creative things. Then I turned on the TV for her later while I fixed dinner. I told her during the 2nd show that we weren't going to turn on a 3rd show because James would be helping her with her bath when he got home. And when that show ended, she hopped up and said "I'm going to turn off the TV without even being asked!" Turning off the TV can be a big trigger for her to act up and get upset, even when she's watched a full 2 hours of it, so I was very proud of her. No big blowups yesterday at all, and she was just a very pleasant little girl to be around. It's so good to see progress. It's very encouraging.

In the last 6 or 7 weeks, it's a like a Reading switch was flipped in Rachel's brain. She has started to recognize more and more words and is reading simple books mostly on her own. She still needs encouragement to sound out words she doesn't know, but it's incredible how quickly she's picking up new words. Her Kindergarten teacher tested the kids on the "Critical Words" that they will be learning this year. The list is, I believe, 126 words long and the Kindergarteners need to know 26 of them by the end of the year to be progressing properly, and all 126 by the end of 1st grade. Rachel knew 62 of them! I'm so excited for the new worlds that will be opening up to her as she learns to read to herself.

Rachel has said a few times "I don't like Kindergarten. I wish I was back in preschool." I think a lot of that is just getting used to a new school and new things to do. She also apparently misses the toys that they got to play with before they started their scheduled tasks, since they don't have toys in her Kindergarten class. But she sure seems to be happy when she comes out at the end of the morning, and I think she's enjoying herself, even if it's different.

Last night, she told James "I don't like Mrs. B___," who is her teacher. She didn't have an explanation for why, but I asked her this morning if she liked Mrs. B and Mrs. L, the paraeducator who assists Mrs. B. She said yes, so I asked her about her comment from last night. She told me that she said it because another little girl in her class told her to say it or she wouldn't be Rachel's friend. Nice.

So we talked about being kind and truthful, and not saying something just because someone else tells us to. I also told her that being unkind or lying are sins, and that we need to do what's right, even if it's hard. I know it's early for her to really take in that much, but I want to emphasize right behavior from the outset, and I know that things will sink in over time.

Hopefully this isn't going to be a repeat situation. And I hope that, if it happens again, she'll be strong to say "I want to be your friend, but I don't want to say mean things about people," or tell her that she likes Mrs. B. It's just creepy that kids are so manipulative at 5 years old.