(continued from this post)
After a few days had passed and it became more clear that the changes I was noticing in Corrigan were sticking around I became a little bit insane. It’s okay. You can nod your head in agreement. I was a woman out-of-control.
It is not that I was not working hard to try and help Corrigan to learn these past 27 months but my enthusiasm was tempered by the cold reality of our success. I was spending a lot of time teaching him the same things over and over, nothing really felt like it was really impacting him developmentally and when I got his yearly review from early intervention I was even further defeated to see some of his developmental areas marked in the 12-14 month range.
Now things felt almost instantly different. I would lay awake at night and worry about how to properly maximize whatever this thing was that was happening. I would get up at 3am and research different teaching methods online. I tried to find resources on special needs preschool curriculum and really did a lot of studying about the Montessori method of teaching. I may have purchased special notebooks to track his day-to-day learning history and write down project ideas from different homeschooling moms on the internet.
It’s okay. You can laugh.
I was worried that my window of opportunity with Corrigan might be fleeting and I wanted to maximize it the best that I could. I was a little sad to find myself purchasing toys meant for infants in preparation for our “homeschool preschool” but determined to only buy things that would fit into the categories that I wanted to focus on with Cor: adaptive, sensory, gross and fine motor skills and cognitive. I didn’t really know what to do for speech other than to continue talking to him, use repetition and urge him to watch my mouth by holding things up next to my lips when I said the word…or sit with him in front of a mirror and chatter away.
What on Earth was I thinking?
That Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Elementary Education that I have locked in the firesafe did nothing to prepare me for “school” with a kid like Corrigan. It makes me chuckle to look back a week later. How ambitious I was. How naive. I bow to preschool teachers. However, I bow and kiss the shoes of preschool teachers that work with special needs students! I suppose I know what Master’s degree I would return to school for if I can ever find the time…or the other half of my brain.
The thing is though, I kind of work under the theory that as long as nothing bad happens on my watch and I give each day 100% then I can sleep well at night. That is only my theory because I also work under a massive cloud of guilt so that even when I rationally know that I did my best, I can still spend hours looking at the ceiling, when I should be sleeping soundly, wondering what I could have done differently.
Anyway, “school” was fun. It was a lot of work. It was messy. I felt like I needed two naps by dinnertime just to have the energy to make it until bedtime. I am not really sure that Corrigan learned anything. At least nothing that I can gauge like learning a new word or sound but I think that, if nothing else, if I can improve his attention span by doing several brief activities throughout the day then I am doing my part to help the real teachers (the therapists) by increasing his actual learning/focus when they come to the house.
It was a bummer that Corrigan caught a cold on our third day of “school” and we have been off of our schedule since but in just two days of purposeful play he quickly learned that when I roll out his “rug” he is supposed to come over to sit and wait for me to bring him an activity. When I sit on the floor now he immediately comes over and turns his back to me and slowly backs his little butt onto my lap. He waits patiently for me to read a book or trace letters of the alphabet with him. He at least attempted each and every activity that I planned and even if the longest amount of time that he spent on a task might have been 6-7 minutes (if I am being generous) I feel like we made a little progress.
His speech therapist is due to arrive this morning and I am not going to mention “school” at all to her and see if she notices any improvement in his attention span. I am hopeful that she does!
(photos of our “school” day in the next post…lots of photos)