Mama Gone Green is a blog dedicated to raising happy children and reducing our impact on the Earth. My name is Taryn and I am the mother of 2 young kids and an environmental studies instructor at a community college in Portland, Oregon. Please join me as I journey through life as a mama, teacher, knitter, photographer, gardener, and environmentalist!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fantastic Mr. Finn and the Kindergarten Decision

As some of you know, my 5 year old son, Finn, was diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) and anxiety last fall. Things that are easy for most families can be a huge struggle for us and I feel like a lot of our day revolves around Finn, his appointments, and his needs. His transition into his new Japanese immersion preschool program last fall was nothing short of a disaster. But, eventually, Finn did make that transition and by Thanksgiving, he was mostly comfortable in his class. Potty accidents has stopped, crying had stopped, and he was participating in most of the activities. He was happy. We were happy.
Well,.... then came Christmas break. His transition back into his classroom was hard. Very hard. We were back to meltdowns, peeing in his pants (up to 3 times a day!), and then he was refusing to go outside for recess. He was clearly not happy. I was stressed and spent a lot of time crying. We set goals, offered rewards, talked through scenarios... nothing seemed to work.
Then, all of a sudden, about a month after the holiday break had ended, he was back to happy Finn and was once again doing great at school. No accidents, no more crying, no more worrying. And with this new school rhythm came a better rhythm at home and everywhere.....  there has been less whining, less metldowns, he has been getting dressed when we ask (when it used to take 40 minutes or so), and even his occupational therapist said that he has suddenly been making huge progress there as well. He is happy and I feel like we are once again back on the right track.
What I have learned from all of this so far, is that Finn is completely capable. He just needs time to adjust. A lot more time than most kids his age, but if he is given that time, eventually, he will excel. Sadly, sometimes that time is not available, which means that Finn will miss out on certain things, at least as long as he transitions so slowly. But, if he continues to find patient teachers, I think he will succeed.
I know that this journey is long from over. In fact, this recent progress is really just a signal that we can take the next step and try and focus on his anxiety and the root of many of his problems. We are considering working on some diet changes, or possibly adding an herbal regimen to his day. Our most recent dilemma was deciding Finn's school plan for next fall:
Finn's current school is a Japanese immersion program. In kindergarten they split the days 50/50 in Japanese and English, which means 2 things for Finn: 1. Half of the day is in Japanese (as compared to pre-k where the Japanese is mostly interspersed throughout the day), and the language part of his school has been making him really anxious and 2. Since they only have half a day to learn what a normal kindergarten would do in an entire day, there are non-stop transitions. After meetings with Finn's current teachers, the Kindergarten teachers, his disability team, his therapist, and talks with Mr. Finn himself, we decided that we are going to put Finn into a regular kindergarten next year. Todd and I are a bit sad, as we both love his current school and loved the idea of him being bilingual, but we have realized this is not about us. This is about what is best for Finn and where he will be most likely to succeed, and in reality, the traditional preschool in our neighborhood seems like a better fit. That does mean that now Finn will have to transition to a new school in the fall, and make new friends, and learn a new routine, but in the long run, I believe it is for the best. I am just happy that we have finally made a decision.

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  1. I am sure this has not been an easy decision, but it seems like a good one made with Finn's best interest at heart. I love the team you are created for him, it seems there are a lot of people helping Finn through this, that is wonderful! Good luck.

  2. Glad to hear that he is making progress. I think you are making a wise decision. We are not unfamiliar with some of the things you describe, as our youngest has had many struggles in school. Adjustments after holiday breaks were difficult and in some ways are still challenging, but bit by bit, they do make progress and one day you will find that your son is 16 and looking forward to high school graduation and you will remember those days when you thought you (and he)would never get there. Sounds like Finn is fortunate to have so many people rooting for and helping him!

  3. I hear you, decisions ARE hard when it comes to our littles! Wishing Finn a great few more weeks at school and that new school will turn out better than expected! :)

  4. I am happy that you are at peace with the decision about this coming fall. You have looked at all possibilities and weighed them. I know he will continue to flourish as a person and a student :)

  5. I'm glad you all settled on a school! You know I remember you commenting about going gluten free some day. I think you should try it. You know I am a very new convert and don't know much but I do know that my kids behavior has changed drastically in the last week, esp my son. It may just be the no sugar and processed foods, but I'm positive it is something to do with the diet. I am reading a book right now called A Compromised Generation as I try to heal my children's eczema. The author starts off saying how we can peel back layers and layers to find the true kid inside (or something like that :-) she obviously says it better and I can't locate my book). I was like yes! I feel like I am doing that with my son now. Although his eczema isn't healing much yet, his behavior is definitely different.

  6. did you get an email from me? im not sure if it sent.

  7. I have a friend with a 12 year old son who was diagnosed with the same some years ago. Her boy has been in "regular" school, both private and public the whole time...
    your boy has such loving parents....

  8. Your boy is so lucky to have parents like you guys! So great that you're at peace with your decision :)