Education, Uncategorized

Teaching Twosday: Potty Training in the Classroom, Pt. 2

pottyblog

Last week, I started talking about potty training in the classroom! Since there’s so much that can be said about this topic, I decided to split up the things I’ve learned into two blog posts.

The first few tips were that (1) teachers need cooperation from parents, (2) you shouldn’t begin potty training until a child is ready, (3) girls generally train faster than boys, and children with older siblings generally train faster than only children, and finally that (4) one should stick to a routine when potty training! For elaboration on those four tips, check out the first blog entry in this two-part series. Here are the next few tips!

Be patient – expect progress, not perfection!

Teachers are often short on time and trying to do a number of things with a number of different children all at once. So, when you have to take a little time out to take someone to the bathroom, it can be easy to want to rush the process by doing everything for the child (taking off their pants and pull ups, telling them to hurry while they are sitting on the potty, giving them the right amount of tissue with which to wipe – or wiping for them). Try to refrain from doing these things. I have found that when I let my kids go through the entire process on their own (despite how long it can take) they become much more mature, confident, and independent. The key when letting a child potty train on his or her own is not to expect perfection. It’s okay if a child gets to the bathroom, gets a little urine on the floor, and pulls way too much tissue off of the tissue roll. Those are learning moments. Use those moments to tell them things like, “Remember to sit all the way back on the toilet next time!” or “We only need a small square or two of tissue!” They will remember those moments and begin to get better. This is also an excellent time to teach children to dress and undress themselves!

Don’t make children feel bad about their accidents, but do make them participate in their accident!

When a child does #1 or #2 in their pants, they (in some cases) already feel a little bit of guilt about having had the accident, now that they are aware that they are supposed to use the potty. So it isn’t necessary to make the child feel worse. However, you do want the child to see how uncomfortable and how undesirable it is to have accidents. While you are getting the items needed for clean-up, allow them to feel the sensation of wet clothes sticking to their skin. Ask them (nicely) if they think that it’s a good feeling when their pants and underwear are dirty. Usually they say no. Allow them to undress themselves, so that they get a sense of how yucky it makes them feel to have their pants heavy with wetness. Obviously at this point, if you see a child in real distress over the situation it is okay to step in and help them to undress. For some children, this approach won’t work – so you have to know your kids. But for a lot of my kids, they have stopped having accidents after the first one or two because they hated the way it made them feel. They began holding it and only relieving themselves when they are either on the toilet or back into a pull-up! I should note that in this situation it is never okay to make a child clean up his or her own accident. It is unsanitary for the child who does not have proper cleaning capabilities. And it is probably illegal and can certainly get you fired!

They won’t poop right away.

Actually, I do have one child who was not afraid to poop in the toilet immediately after beginning to potty train him. The rest of my kids, however, do not poop until they are well beyond the point of being comfortable with doing #1. In fact, I have even had some children poop in the toilet by accident, and it scared them so much that they totally regressed into not wanting to visit the toilet at all! Some children stop pooping at school when they begin potty training, and it is easy to assume that the child is pooping at home. But if that child isn’t pooping at home, either – their parents may assume that the child is pooping at school! Make sure you let parents know if your child is not pooping at school – and be sure to ask whether they are pooping at home!

This completes my little bit of potty training advice! Please be advised that I am not a potty training expert and am only writing from my personal experiences of the past few years. It is such a great feeling for a teacher when a child he/she has been working with finally begins to use the potty!

Good luck with your potty training efforts!

 

Education

Teaching Twosday : Potty Training in the Classroom, Pt. 1

 

pottyblog

As a teacher of two year olds, potty training is something that I did on a regular basis. With every child, the experience is different and I was always a little bit nervous when it came time to potty train one of my kids! There is often a lot of pressure from the child’s parents and from the center directors to get the child potty trained in a certain amount of time. With some kids, it’s taken me less than a month to get them fully trained. With others, it’s taken me longer than five months!

I potty trained a child for the first time in 2012 – and I was so nervous about it!! Since then, I have learned a lot about potty training in preschool. Although I am by no means any type of potty training expert – I’d like to share several things I’ve learned along the way!

Teachers NEED cooperation from parents!

Parents – work together with your child’s teacher to make sure your child is potty trained. Stick to the same potty schedule at home that your child is doing at school. If you have agreed only to put your child in underwear – then only put them in underwear! It sends mixed messages to the child when the teacher and parent are doing different things. I’ve had some parents continue to use pull-ups and diapers at home, despite telling me that they were going to stop using them! Those children have more accidents at school than those whose parents stuck to their guns. And I know that accidents are no fun. Trust me. I clean them up all day – and not just the ones your child has. It’s easier when you’re in a rush to just throw a diaper or pull-up on your child and not have to worry that they’ll soil their clothes. But it slows down the process. So don’t agree to underwear-only until you’re sure you’re ready! And speaking of being ready…

Don’t start potty training until the child is ready!

Starting before a child is emotionally and mentally ready for potty training can actually delay the process. A child that would have potty trained in just a few weeks may take months if you start too early. The timing for potty training is a delicate thing, but there are a few signs that I look for when assessing whether or not I think my kids are ready to be potty trained.

The first thing I look for is whether or not they can talk. If they aren’t talking yet, it’ll be a bit more difficult (in an American daycare setting) to potty train. There are plenty of cultures where parents begin potty training from before a child can speak – and I have nothing against that. I know my kids are becoming ready to potty train when they can accurately tell me what’s in their diaper. I had one child who always came to me and said, “I’m poopie!” or “Diaper!” or “Wet-Wet!” (or some combination of the three), and every time she told me what was in her diaper – she was right about what was in there!

Another sign is when they are taking off their own pants/diapers. Yeah, I’ve had that happen, right in the middle of our alphabet rug.

A third sign that a child is ready happens when children who are not potty training happen to get to watch children who are potty training in the bathroom. When a child sees his peers using the toilet, is he engrossed in watching what the potty training children are doing? Or is he more interested in making a mess with the soap on the sink?

Another huge clue for me is when a child whom I have never taken to the bathroom asks me specifically to “go potty.” I had a little girl who always came up to me and said, “My go potty!” Even though she hadn’t started doing anything in the toilet, it was great that she was so enthusiastic about it.

In general, girls train faster than boys, and children with older siblings train faster than children who are the only child.

I’m not sure why girls generally train faster than boys. With one of my boys, I trained him to “go like a boy” by sitting him backward on the toilet. He loved sitting like that and it kept any urine from coming out onto the floor (which happens as a result of a child not sitting far enough back on the toilet seat). He trained really fast! As for children with older siblings – they are more likely to see another child using good bathroom habits on a regular basis than are only children. There is also more help in the home for parents to train the younger child when older children are around.

Stick to a routine!

Teachers, this can be super hard. Especially when you’re not well-staffed! I have definitely had days when I didn’t get my kids to the bathroom on time because of something else that I had to deal with in our classroom (a child throws up, a child bites or hits another child, a child spills something all over the floor, the list goes on). But it’s so important that our kids have that stability in the potty training process – it teaches them to learn to “hold it” if they know that they are going to be going to the bathroom around a certain time of day. And once they’re able to consistently hold their urine or bowel movements long enough to get to a toilet – they’re potty trained!

I have a few more tips to share on this topic, but they’ll have to wait until next week! If you teach twos, what has been your classroom potty-training experience?

Family, Uncategorized

Chocobo’s Sixth Month!

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This month was full of firsts! Chocobo began sitting up on his own, crawling, pulling up on things (and shakily standing while holding onto our ottoman, but standing none the less). He started eating – actually eating, not just sucking on – bananas and strawberries. He sat in a high chair for the first time, and can now sit in high chairs at restaurants. He swung in the baby swing at the playground, and got to dip his feet in our neighborhood pool. And he had his first … (drumroll) … temper tantrum!

Needless to say, it’s been an exciting month!

Chocobo’s personality, at this point, is what I would call reservedly active. When first meeting others, he is not a super friendly baby. You might get the occasional smile but for the most part he will cry and want to be held by someone with whom he is familiar. After a while, though, he will warm up if the person has enough perseverance to continue hanging out with him through his crying. Once he warms up, he shows his true colors. He starts babbling – lots of “dadadadada,” “bayayayayaya,” and “guguguguh.” He squeals and shrieks when he is excited – but also when he is upset. He sometimes opens his mouth and just holds a long tone of “aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa” with an exaggerated “DA!” and a smile at the end. His babbling leads to jumping (if you’re holding him). He loves to jump up and down and that will usually elicit a huge smile and maybe a few happy shrieks here and there. After jumping, he begins squirming in your arms – he wants you to put him down so that he can get to whatever it is on the floor that interests him. This is usually a cell phone, remote control, or set of keys. I’ve also caught him crawling toward our cat’s tail.

Speaking of the cat – our cat is doing much better with his jealousy and has not been mean to Chocobo lately. Chocobo has grown a serious interest in the cat, whenever he is around, Chocobo watches him intently and tries to follow him around the house. I don’t let them get too close to one another because sometimes our cat’s moods can be unpredictable. He might feel friendly and loving, and then suddenly decide he doesn’t want to be touched anymore. It’s easy for an adult to read the signs that our cat is getting tired of the attention, but Chocobo can’t do that and I obviously don’t want him getting scratched. However, I am still holding on to hope that Choco and our cat will have a warm, loving relationship in the future.

We still can’t believe that this amazing child belongs to us! We are enjoying every second.

Education, Uncategorized

Teaching Twosday: Separation Anxiety

I love being a stay-at-home mom, but sometimes I miss being in the classroom! I plan to milk this staying at home gig for all it’s worth, but in the meantime, I wanted to do something on a regular basis that would help to keep me in touch with the Early Childhood Education (ECE) experience. I enjoy working with, learning, and writing about young children and a few years ago I started a blog that was dedicated toward daycare and preschool students. I’ll be moving some of those posts over to this blog, and I hope to write a little something about the ECE field each Tuesday. Since most of my more recent experience is with two year olds, I’ll call it “Teaching Twosday.” A little corny, but it works! And despite the name, I’ll sometimes talk about other ages. When I do end up going back to work, I’ll keep up with this whole Twosday deal and have new experiences to share! What follows is a post I wrote two years ago about dealing with separation anxiety in the classroom. Enjoy!

Today, my center held its annual Easter egg hunt in which children get to dress up (optional), make Easter baskets, and go outside and hunt for eggs filled with lots of fun treats! Parents are always invited to these events, and four of my 9 children had their parents in attendance with us today! This is such a fun event for parents who come and take pictures of their cute little child as he or she cutely hobbles about hunting for eggs. And it was all fun and games until it was time for the parents to leave! My two year olds had a total meltdown! Throwing themselves into walls or on the floor, kicking, jumping, and wildly flapping their arms, all while screaming “Mommy!! Mommy!” as their mothers tried (unsuccessfully) to sneak out of our classroom unnoticed.

I expected this reaction from my kids, as they are only two years old and separation anxiety is a natural part of early childhood. Young children don’t yet have a concept of time, and it is hard for them to grasp when their parent will return. Most of my children still cry when being dropped off in the morning (even though they are used to the routine by now!) and generally only see their parents again at pick-up time. For mommy to show up and not be taking them home!? Oh, the drama that causes!

I’d like to share a few methods I employ to help me deal with a child’s separation anxiety. If you are a childcare provider for young children, this short list might help you too!

1. If ratio is okay, take a walk around your center! I do this for two reasons. The first is that a child always wants to get out of your classroom in the hopes that they’ll see their parent once they are out. Leaving your room and walking around shows them that mommy and daddy are not still in the building somewhere – and you are not keeping them hostage! The second reason I do this is because it is a good distraction, the children can see other kids playing, they can look at the neat wall displays of each classroom, they can say hi to other teachers, etc. By the time the walk is finished – they are usually okay.

2. Ask the child to help you with something! Most children love to feel independent and useful. I have asked my twos to help me with things such as getting breakfast ready for the rest of the kids, setting the table, or throwing something in the trashcan. Don’t forget to give lots of praise for the successfully accomplished task!

3. Distraction with songs, toys, games, or books! This is probably the oldest trick in the book! Mommy goes away and suddenly a cool truck, doll, or favorite book appears! More musically inclined kids might even ask you to sing to them (I’ve had that happen!) and once they start singing/playing along – they’re on the path to feeling better!

4. Ask them to show you their clothes, toys, or books! In the same vein, asking children to show you things helps them to feel proud of themselves and engages them in conversation. This one doesn’t work for everyone. But I’ve had some kids who talked to me about their new Hello Kitty light up shoes for nearly thirty minutes after mom left! (I was sorry I’d brought up the shoes!)

5. Invite a friend! Asking one of the child’s friends to come over and play with the upset child accomplishes not only distracting the child, but teaching the other children about empathy. When we use sentences like, “Jimmy is sad. Can you help make him feel better?” We are teaching children to recognize when someone is upset, and that we can do something to help others.

It isn’t a good idea to mention mommy or daddy during this time – even in song! For example, I wouldn’t sing the “5 little monkeys jumping on the bed” song because one of the lines in the song is “mama called the doctor…” It’s also not always a good idea to try and distract an older (1.5-3years) ‘separated and anxious’ child with a physical game like tickling or tossing them up in the air. This generally only serves to aggrivate them further.

In my case, I and my colleagues were able to get through lunch and through the transition into naptime by working together to comfort all of our crying munchkins. After nap, all the kids felt better and were ready to get on with the second half of our day together!

Good times! 🙂

 

General, Hobbies, Uncategorized

The Road Back to Good Health

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When I was younger, I used to climb trees, roller skate or bike ride, race the boys in the neighborhood, and play high intensity outdoor games that left me excited and out of breath as I returned home for dinner in the evenings. I took ice skating lessons, dance lessons, and lots of hikes through the “woods” with my neighborhood friends. In high school, I took dance class, ran track, and was part of the step team. In college, I ran track, played tennis, and learned how to teach aerobics courses. As an adult, I’ve found enjoyment in Zumba, Yoga, Pilates, Barre, and anything that involves dancing. I guess what I’m trying to say is –

I used to be in such great shape.

I have always enjoyed being active and it isn’t until recently that I am realizing just how active I used to be! After having a baby and getting through a pulmonary embolism, I was told to slow down on the physical activity for a bit. But, I think I am starting to get back to the place where I can resume an active lifestyle. And, I can’t wait!

In the past, I wasn’t being intentionally active – I was just doing what I was interested in. This time around, I want to be more intentional about reaching certain fitness goals. I hate being in the hospital, taking medications, and having regularly scheduled blood tests. But, what I hate even more is how restricting the experience is. I can’t eat some of my favorite (healthy) foods because of the medicine I am taking. I can’t work out the way I want to until they are sure that my clot has dissipated. I can’t travel, sit, or lie down for too long without thinking about having to keep my blood circulation flowing. I have always been interested in health and fitness topics, but this experience has really taught me the value of making sure that I keep my body healthy.

Being in good health is a priceless treasure. If you’re already in good health, do whatever you can to keep it that way. If you’re not, do whatever you can to get back to it. I certainly look forward to getting myself back on track.

And I’ll be blogging the journey, of course.

Family

Chocobo’s Fifth Month!

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Baby boy’s fifth month came so quickly!

We spent the entire month going back and forth between two cities and planning/packing for our move. As a result, our little guy had to get used to entertaining himself a bit more often as we worked. He started rolling around like crazy, giving us some genuine laughter, learning to sit up on his own, and became more adept at grabbing toys and putting them in his mouth. He also began developing a bit more stranger anxiety. I put him in the church nursery for the first time and he didn’t (at first) do as well as he had done in daycare at 2 and 3 months old. I also paid a friend to babysit while I packed, and he cried a lot at first.

He is doing much better about riding in his carseat, though! He has always hated the carseat but this past month was the first in which he didn’t have as many total meltdowns. He is still eating and sleeping well and he enjoys when mama and papi play with him at the same time.

His babbling has begun to sound more like he is trying to say real words. It’s super cute, and he drools all the time.

We are definitely looking forward to seeing what the next couple of months bring!

Hobbies, Uncategorized

Ashvalia – An Intro, Pt. 2

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I first created the world of Ashvalia when I was seven years old. I am now in my early thirties, and over the years Ashvalia has been through more changes than I care to document. In its current state, Ashvalia is a small world in which four nations reside. The northernmost nation is called Jiveraenia, the Eastern nation is called Idwanistad, the Western nation is called Nevalis (or Venice), and the Southern nation is called Imjaa. Most of my stories and writings are set in Imjaa, although the other nations have gone through some development as well. In order to understand the stories that follow, there are some pieces of background information that are important. What follows is an excerpt from one of my journals, meant to set the stage for the rest of what I will write about Ashvalia.

“Unbeknownst to the masses, there exist hundreds of portals deep under the Atlantic Ocean. These portals lead to what is known as the Seasphere – a vast ocean that on which many alternate worlds can be found. The expanse of the Seasphere is not (nor will it ever be) known, but each of the discovered worlds can be accessed through channels that lead into each world’s coast. One such world is called Ashvalia.

Time, in Ashvalia, passes extremely quickly and is measured using two methods. The first is method, called Calendar, is useful for setting appointments, recording history, reporting events, tracking seasons, and staying connected with other nations and worlds. The Ashvalian year has only 20 days. The first five days make up the Spring season, the next five days make up the Summer season, the following five days make up the Autumn season, and the final five days make Winter. Each day is made up of twenty-four hours, and there are no months.

The second method, called Biological, is used to mark the progression of one’s passage through the stages of life. A person can live an entire lifespan – from infancy to senior adulthood – in a Calendar measurement of three to five years. Instead of birthdays, which would happen once per year, Ashvalians celebrate aging ceremonies – which happen every set number of days*. A person spends so many days in infancy, toddlerhood, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, and senior adulthood before crossing into the next stage of life. Because no one has ever lived longer than five calendar years, a generation is said to be five years long. The rapid passage of time creates, in most Ashvalians, a sense of urgency about enjoying and cherishing life. However, cultural ideas about how to enjoy and cherish life vary vastly between each of Ashvalia’s four nations.”

Knowing this little bit of background will help to make sense of what Ashvalia is (an entire world, not just a country) and why time seems to move so quickly (and why some of the dates don’t sound like they make sense) in my stories/overviews.

Here’s hoping you enjoy following along!

*[Beginning in 2005, I would play “The Sims 2” and use my game-play to create and write stories that were set in Ashvalia. In “The Sims 2”, a person’s life-span was as follows: 3 days of infancy, 4 days of toddlerhood, 8 days of childhood, 15 days of adolescence, 29 days of adulthood, and your remaining lifespan (senior adulthood) was based on how good of a life you had given your sim up until that point. Since many of my stories were based on my sims, I ended up adopting this time-system for Ashvalia]