I don't have the energy to go into all of the details right now but we are feeling like we are back at square one with Teagan and the adjustment to First Grade.
It's breaking my heart.
I've done some talking today. One of the first calls was to Lori- the owner of the school Teagan had attended. She knows Teagan so very well and she knows how our school district works so I knew she'd be a good person to talk to. And she was. I talked to a few friends at work. I talked to Christy. Jeff and I talked last night. I've got an email conversation going with the teacher.
My baby doesn't like school. She loves the before and after care program run by the YMCA. She doesn't like the time she spends in school. She particularly doesn't like lunch.
I'm in "that mom" mode. I'm going to knock on doors, send emails, make phone calls, read and talk until I can come up with a gameplan that will somehow make this better.
Step one- Jeff is going to get the paperwork filled out to have a background check on file so he can have lunch at school with Teagan from time to time. Might be more often at first, if he can. The school is very open to parents eating with their kids- there are just rules you have to follow (background check on file, call before 9:15 if you want to buy your lunch at the school, no bringing in fast food or restaurant food). So we've got that ball rolling.
Step two- Waiting to hear back from the teacher. One thing Teagan expressed is that she feels like she just doesn't understand. She doesn't understand what she's supposed to do, how she's supposed to respond. Even down to little things like where her papers go when she's done with her work. I've asked the teacher if we can come in and walk through the procedures so that Jeff and I understand and can reinforce things with Teagan at home. Jeff having lunch with Teagan will give us insight into lunchroom procedures and rules.
Step three- Haven't done this yet but plan to drop a note to the school counselor to see what suggestions she has.
I've been doing some reading online and am finding that First Grade Anxiety is quite common. Kids who did great in Kindergarten in the same school will suddenly start having anxiety about school in First Grade. I'm going to keep digging and researching until I find some guidance on how to ease that anxiety for my daughter.
What breaks my heart is how quiet she is about it. She has been trying so hard and I think she's been bottling it all up inside.
Jeff and I talked last night and there are some adjustments we plan to make at home, too.
We want to be more positive and less correcting in our interactions with her. It's easy to fall into correction mode and I think we've slipped down the path too far. I think Teagan hears a lot of what she shouldn't do from us.
When she asks for help, we need to help her. Not that we never do! But when she asks us to help her with something that we know she knows, we tend to push her to do it on her own. Which sounds ok until I realize that we are asking her to seek help from adults at school when she doesn't know what to do. Maybe she's using home as a testing ground and if we aren't responding to her by offering help or guidance in a positive way, maybe she's not comfortable seeking help for something she feels like she's already supposed to know from other adults.
Make sure she knows we love her, we value her, and that she is an awesome, smart, creative and beautiful little girl. Kinda goes without saying but I want to make sure we have a focus on building her confidence in the weeks ahead.
My baby is hurting. I hate that. One thing I know she is lacking is feeling like she has an adult to turn to that she can trust and that she knows loves her at school. She has connected with adults in the aftercare program. She has adults at her old school, at church that she knows she can seek out in any situation. She hasn't found that anchor yet in First Grade. And right now, I would feel immensely better if there was someone I could talk to or connect with that was connected to her.
Last night, I sat on her bed and just watched her sleep. Her little face is just so perfect. Her tiny little mouth, her button nose, her cheeks. Truly an angel. And it shreds me up inside to know that she is struggling and we are no longer in a place where Mommy or Daddy can swoop in and make it better. I feel so unprepared for all of this. I thought figuring her out in infancy was a challenge but at least then I knew that crying meant hunger, pee, poop, tummy ache, I miss you. That was all. Now... she's this complex little being in these big complex overwhelming situations and I don't know what the facial expressions all mean anymore.
We'll get through it. Mostly because we won't stop until we get to a good place- I won't just leave her suffering each and every day. We will find ways to improve how we handle anxiety. We will find problems and seek solutions. We will make sure home is a safe and soft place to fall. We will be a family and figure this out.