Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Teaching My Toddler to Be Independent

Today was Li'l General's sixth continuous day at school - an achievement in itself after all that we've been through since he started about three weeks ago. There has not been a dull moment with initial excitement the first two days followed by a fortnight of cough, cold, and fever which in turn gave into no-mood-for-school days - the last being the toughest of them all when I had to see him cry the whole time he was there. It has barely been three days since he has adjusted to the 1 hour that he spends there that he has taken ill again - this time with a bout of dysentery.

Sickness apart, the playschool lady's advice has been very helpful in getting LG to be school-ready. We tried the mom-n-me part for two days but when that didn't help she suggested we go with the cry-it-out method. Very painful for two days but eventually he got adjusted to the point that he has started enjoying his stay. I wouldn't say he actually looks forward to going there as the first two days. Even now he cries miserably when I drop him but comes back home smiling with pictures of cats and stars on the back of his palm.

After every session, the lady advises me what changes I can mildly bring about at home that would make him more comfortable at school. We started with tackling the clingy part first where I consciously ensured that he would be away from me for a while every now and then. That helped. Now her advise is to make him LG a little independent as she says he loves doing things. Which is very true. I see the happiness of accomplishment when I ask him to fetch the thermos or keep a cup in kitchen or get his socks from the wardrobe. When I run out of things for him, I keep inventing stuff like emptying a bottle of peas onto a plate and asking him to fill it back. Ofcourse, there are times when it gets messy creating more work for me and there are occasions when he enjoys it. It's all about experimentation and it gives me an opportunity to name things as we go along.

One of the things the lady wanted him to do was to pick his pair of sandals from the shoe rack. She picked the wrong pair on purpose and asked if it was his. He shook his head and got down to pick the right pair. She put on the sandals for him but said, "From tomorrow onwards you are going to do it yourself." As soon as we got home, I asked him to remove it himself and place it on the shoe rack. To my surprise he loved doing it with a big beam on his face. For me he is always too young to do anything by himself which is why I step in for everything. No wonder at 30, my parents think I'm too young to decide anything for myself.