Oh my goodness, I remember how sick I felt when it came to sending off my sensory sensitive kiddo to school. As we’ve uncovered other issues, it feels like every school year brings a new challenge we have to get the school up to speed on… it’s enough to make a mama go mad.
But for all my worrying, our kids are resilient. They never cease to amaze me how they learn to be their own advocates and make things work!
Today we welcome one such mama to our Voices of SPD campaign. Do you remember how you felt when you sent your little one off to Kindergarten?
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Mentally Preparing for Kindergarten
Last week B attended Vacation Bible School (VBS) at a local church for five full days. Of course I was nervous that she’d be gone from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. every day that week, but she was over the moon excited to see friends she hadn’t seen since Sunday School ended in May.
My nervous mama mode kicked in on the first day. B arrived and was her usual shy, reserved self. Give her twenty minutes of warm up time and a teacher/counselor that loves to hug, smile and talk and she’s all yours. That day the day camp counselors were busy completing check-in tasks. B walked over to a friend who was holding hands with another girl. B said, “Hi.” but her little face was crushed to see that her friend was busy entertaining someone else.
More kids came and sat down, and not one of the girls came and sat next to her. My heart skipped a beat (and broke a little) when she came over to me and buried her face in my lap asking when VBS was going to start. I knew she’d be okay once things got started, but I also had that moment of “Is this what her first day of Kindergarten is going to be like in less than a month?”
The rest of her week at VBS went very well. She knew two of the camp counselors and she latched on to them like glue. She was talking to the other girls and participating in all of the activities! She even made it through lunch without much directing from me!
Lunch in and of itself was a HUGE accomplishment! B has a VERY difficult time with certain smells, appearances and tastes of many different foods. I am dreading Kindergarten simply because she mentions how she doesn’t want to eat in the cafeteria. Especially on pizza day. So, to my surprise, she took it upon herself to sit at the end of the table on the day that another child brought summer sausage in his lunch. She took it upon herself to plug her nose when everyone at her table was eating bologna sandwiches (Was it kosher? Probably not, but she didn’t have to physically leave the table or sit somewhere else). I was beyond excited for her! Excited that she learned a few coping skills all on her own! That she didn’t isolate herself from everyone else. It was a pretty proud mama bear moment for me.
That being said, we did get a few glimpses at what we may encounter once she starts kindergarten. While she held it together at school, she had some difficult days at home. One morning she was so pokey I lost my cool and raised my voice. I told her she wasn’t listening, and she burst into tears. The tears didn’t stop until we got to VBS, and they continued as sniffles at school. We’ve noticed now that every time her 2.5 year old little sister starts crying she covers her ears and yells, “Stop crying. Please stop crying. I just can’t take it!”
She’s also been CRAVING some serious deep pressure input. She’s been squeezing my arms and legs extra hard lately, hanging on doors, and jumping all over us. She’s also having issues with personal space. She needs reminders that not everyone likes someone yelling “Boo” in their face.
So what’s next? I’m so grateful that I had this week of VBS to prepare myself mentally for what’s ahead. I called B’s school principal and set up a meeting BEFORE school starts so that we can meet and talk about her sensory diet. The things she needs to set her up for success and not dealing with the repercussions after she starts. We’re going to get a 504 in place for the accommodations needed at school. I met with her kindergarten teacher and supplied her with the book Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals by Angie Voss. I tagged all of the sensory signals B displays so she would know exactly how to respond to B’s needs. I’m prepared to rev up the sensory input before and after school so she feels in control of her body. I’m prepared to give her the down time she needs when she gets home. If she needs 15 minutes in the swing, pillow cave or squish box, you better believe I’ll give it to her. I’m prepared to be B’s best advocate. To encourage, support and celebrate her. All of the new things she’s going to learn. The new friends she’ll make. The new skills she’ll pick up.
After all, that’s what we as parents are called to do. To encourage our kids to be themselves. To demonstrate to others that our kids are unique and awesome. To let their tender spirits shine no matter what. We are their voices at the beginning stages of their journey. At times we have to be their voices in the middle, and no matter what we give them the love, understanding, and encouragement they need – to treasure our kids as the blessings they really are.
Printable Classroom Support Resources
- Calming Strategies for the Classroom
- Classroom Behavior Management Guide
- Sensory Break Cards for the Classroom
- Classroom Behavior Management Incentive Puzzles
- Classroom Yoga in 10 Minutes a Day
- Create a Calm Classroom
- Sensory Tools for the Classroom – Handouts, Forms and Data Collection
- Sensory-Friendly Classroom Starter Kit
- Teacher’s Handbook to Sensory Processing in the Classroom
- Yoga in the Classroom
For more reading about sensory solutions in the classroom:
Behavior Solutions for the Inclusive Classroom: A Handy Reference Guide That Explains Behaviors Associated with Autism, Asperger’s, ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorder, and Other Special NeedsGryphon House Wired Differently: A Teacher’s Guide to Understanding Sensory Processing ChallengesBuilding Sensory Friendly Classrooms to Support Children with Challenging Behaviors: Implementing Data Driven Strategies!Answers to Questions Teachers Ask about Sensory Integration: Forms, Checklists, and Practical Tools for Teachers and Parents
If you’d like to become a part of Voices of SPD on The Sensory Spectrum, please read about how to join Voices of SPD.