|Kate's First Day of Pre-School 2010 - too shy to look at the camera|
Most of the time Kate would enjoy herself at school, despite all of this - and it appeared that Kate's personality was extra quiet. Throughout her pre-school years, her teachers have been excellent and have allowed Kate to grow at her own pace and to participate on the level she felt comfortable.
And then along came Mrs. Archambault and Mrs. Miller. They have been Kate's teachers for the last 9 months. Mrs. Archambault knew Kate for about a month when she had Kate figured out. She pulled me aside one day and told me: "Kate is shy and needs some time to adjust and come out of her shell, but she's got a really strong personality under that timid demeanor. I've decided to give her space and room to grow and to let her come into her own without making an issue out of it." Mrs. Archambault spent the year letting Kate be herself and making mental notes about Kate's growth, but never spoke with Kate about her eating choices, her moments of shyness... or any of it. In Mrs. Archambault's estimation, Kate gained power and confidence when her behaviors were treated like non-issues and when no one made a fuss about Kate deciding to participate mid-game or needing a few extra minutes at the door in the morning.
The year started like any other: Kate felt timid about going into the classroom but seemed to bounce back each day once the transition was over. On her first day to have a turn being Star of the Day, Kate felt particularly shy. Mrs. Archambault handled it like any other day and neither gave Kate extra attention for being Star of the Day nor tried to push her into "enjoying" the extra attention. Mrs. Miller, her other teacher, caught me on my way to my car: "Kate's so much like me," she said, "I feel that way sometimes too. And when I have a chance to warm up on my own, I usually can start to enjoy the special treatment by the end of the day. We'll watch what Kate needs today to be able to enjoy her turn as Star of the Day and make sure it's a good day for her."
Sure enough, when I picked Kate up that afternoon, she didn't mention feeling shy or embarrassed. All she remembered was the show and tell circle and the lack of pressure she felt.
The strategy wasn't revolutionary, and it's not like we'd never used it before. But somehow, this year, under the wisdom and care of Kate's teachers, something clicked. As the year went on, Kate had less and less days that looked embarrassed and quiet and more and more days of skipping down the hall towards her class ahead of the rest of us.
Mrs. Archambault measured Kate's confidence using the playground as a litmus test: at the beginning of the year, Kate huddled near the entrance to the playground, barely feeling brave enough to venture out to the rest of the play area. As friends began asking her to play during the year, she'd slowly come out from her safety spot a little more quickly each time. At our end of the year conference, Mrs. Archambault told me that Kate now is the one leading games on the playground and it seems as though she doesn't even remember she had a safety spot!
Kate turned a corner this year. She grew into a school child, confident and excited to learn. She no longer deals with consistent stomach issues (a doctor finally diagnosed her with Situational Stomach Disorder and prescribed less chaos and more calm for the fix). Although her eating is always progressing, she is not the smallest child in her class anymore - not even the second smallest! She still has a sweet, gentle (often quiet and shy) demeanor, but the strong personality and the confidence show themselves a bit more readily in all areas.
|Last Day of St. Peters! May 2014|
Truly, Kate's last year in pre-school has been her best. And it has prepared her for big school next year better than I could've imagined. Watch out world, my Kate Beth is headed your way!
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