Saturday, September 28, 2013

Year Three: PRESCHOOL!!!!

In the summer of 1976, my husband got a job with the Washington Department of Fish and Game. He was to be the new editor for their publication Washington Wildlife.  This was exciting, but it meant moving away from Oak Harbor and into the Olympia area. For me, the change didn't seem too great as I grew up in Seattle and my parents still lived there. So I was still close to family.

I applied for some special education jobs in the Olympia area, and was delighted when I was interviewed and chosen for an early childhood position in a birth to six program! I loved early childhood and couldn't wait to get started. The program was called PEPSI and that stood for Parent Educator Pre School Intervention. For the birth to three population, we went into the homes once a week and worked with the children and their parents, recognizing that the parents really are their child's first and most important teacher. These same parents and children also came into the center once a week and received occupational, speech, and physical therapy. Again, we watched and learned along with the parents. It was the first time I watched therapists "co-treat" children and I was fascinated. Speech therapists worked with children while the occupational therapist bounced them on large therapy balls. The reason? All that movement and input helped these little ones make more vocalizations. And I can't say enough about the parents! I remember working with an eight month old boy with down syndrome. He was delightful and happy and his young mother could come up with more ways to get him to use his pincer grasp! Each week I learned as much from her as she did from me!

The three to six year old's came in the morning each day. There were three of us teachers and each of us had an instructional assistant. Some parts of the morning routine we did as a group, like circle, music, and free play. Other parts we did individually, working one-on-one with children on specific goals and objectives. I had so much fun this year and learned a lot about early childhood. Next week I will go into more detail about my work with one special little girl!