Smlwoman\’s Weblog

“Waiting for that golden moment when fear and desire die, and only the unspeakable reality of love remains. “

How to look for a Good Quality Preschool – Teacher Turn Over July 5, 2011

Filed under: Children,Life as a Mom,Preschool Tips for parents — smlwoman @ 12:40 am
Tags: , , , ,

I have come to realize that a lot of parents are not sure what to look for in a preschool. How do they know if it is the right school for their child? Well I can give you some inside tips about preschools. I was a preschool teacher 20 years, as well as an assistant director for 7 of those years. Working with kids is my passion in life. It is why I taught for so long at such a small wage, and it is why I became a nanny, and it is why I foster and adopt the children in my care.

There are lots of tips so I will break them down to one or two tips per blog. My first tip is about teacher turn over. Preschool teachers are paid very low wages. It is statistically proven that 99% of preschool teachers make poverty wages. Many are taken advantage of. Many are unappreciated. In the first year of teaching you can lose your voice, and have several colds while your body is trying to build up immunity to all the new germs you are exposed to. Some “Open school” plans will allow one teacher to have 20-25 children as long as there are enough teachers in the school to cover ratios. And closed room schools are not much better, you are lucky to get a bathroom break if you need to wait for the director or someone else to come into your room so you can leave to use the restroom. Rarely do Preschool teachers get seen as a teacher. They are often considered glorified babysitters. And it is rare to find a preschool that actually gives it’s teachers their 2/10 minute breaks, and some barely get a lunch if they are to short of staff to cover ratios. You are also required, hours are set depending on which state you work in, to do 15-25 hours of continuing education every year. These hours are unpaid. Most preschool teachers not only teach but clean up vomit, and potty accidents, while also trying to keep 15 children from getting into trouble. They also are the janitors of the school, cleaning bathrooms, cleaning up from lunches, etc. So why do we choose to teach in a preschool?

Some teach to get by while in school. Especially those who are seeking a degree in any career working with children. Some do it for the hours, always off nights and weekends. Some are big kids themselves and then there are some who have a passion for making a difference in the lives of children. It is a career for them. And they spend much of their “personal time” thinking of new and exciting ways to teach. These are the teachers you are looking for. Keep in mind that some teachers may start out in a preschool not having any intention of staying long and then wind up loving what they do so much that their reason for staying changes.

When looking for a school, ask the director how long she has been at this center and how long she has been the director. Ask about turn over. Ask how long the the teacher with the most senority has been at the school. It is rare, but if you find a school with a teacher that has been there for at least 3-5 years then the school treats them right or the teacher has a passion for teaching. If you find a school with several teachers that have been there that long or longer, then snag the school. It means not only do the teachers have a passion for teaching, but that the director helps to keep them from being over stressed. You want a director to be active with their teachers. yes there are things she has to do outside of being in a classroom, but a good director always remembers what it was like to teach before they became a director. If you can find a school like this, and they do exist, then grab it! Preschools with a low turn over rate are not easy to find, but they do exist. And even though this is not the only thing to look for, it is in my opinion, one of the most important ones.

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Loving Strangers February 3, 2011

I was reading a friends blog and she mentioned something that I have been struggling with as well.  Kids adapting to new kids in the family. 

My nephew is my love!  He is the whole reason I moved back home.  I cried every time I left and when I would get pictures of him in the mail I would cry.  I wanted to be here to be a part of his life.  And when I moved back home I did just that.  I was the cool Aunt.  The one who took him to the best places, the one who got him the cool toys, and the one who showed him how to play cool things like Gak and squirt bottle tag. 

Then I decided I wanted to adopt and have my own children.  My nephew took this very hard.  A few months after I got Arius, I took my nephew into the bedroom and held him because he was upset at Arius.  I asked him if he was angry that I brought Arius into the family.  I told him he could tell me the truth and I wouldn’t get angry at him.  He said Yes and started to cry hard.  I held him and tried my best to explain how I wanted to be a mommy and how Arius needed a mommy.   I promised to still try to do things with him sometimes that is just him and I.  But when he started school it became a lot more difficult.  I thought this talk would have helped him, but in his mind, Arius is with me all the time, having the time of his life.  Or maybe because he has seen me get angry with Arius he thinks that Arius has turned me into a mean person instead of his cool Aunt.  I am not sure.  My mom said the other day my nephew was looking at pictures she had up of Arius and Reasa and Seany, and she saw him make an X over their pictures.  She said it was like he was crossing them out.  When she asked him about it, he clammed up.  He is only 6 and already bottles up his emotions and thoughts.  It had been a while since I had taken him out so durring break I took him and Jasmine to play lazer tag and just have a fun day together.  He seems to get along great with my oldest girl.  I wish I knew what to do to help him love Arius the way I do.  Or that I could find a way to help them become good friends at least. (more…)

 

God Had a Plan From the Beginning January 30, 2011

Filed under: adoptions in reno,Children,Life as a Mom,my thoughts,Time with God — smlwoman @ 10:28 pm

I was asked to write about some of my past on here. Suggested starting after highschool. Which is a decent place to start. But as I look back on my life, I realize that it really started some time before High school even began. I will jump through the years so don’t worry that you are about to read my entire life story in one post.

What makes me the person I am today? I think it is and has always been God. Even before I knew Him. When I was a little girl I would line up my stuffed animals and dolls and pretend they were my students. I would write out math homework, hand it to each doll, then do each page, then correct each page. I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. And I did become a teacher when I grew up.  A preschool teacher.

Something I thought was interesting, but what I remember even more, is that at that same age, I told my parents I wanted to adopt children. I wanted to have 10 children and I would adopt them all. We were living in an apartment in Reno at the time with my parents and my brother was only 2, So I was 10 at the time. And I am on my way to adopting children just like I wanted to 31 years ago. (more…)

 

The Good Old Days January 23, 2011

Filed under: my thoughts — smlwoman @ 10:56 am

the farm my dad grew up on

I received a letter from my aunt recently. She is my dad’s oldest sister. She wrote about how christmas was back then, and she is right, it is something out of the history books for kids today, even for many adults, but it is still cool. What caught me is what she said at the end. So I thought I would share this part.

As I sit in my little home in sunny, warm, arizona, I think about christmas on the farm as I grew up. Those days are only stuff in history books to my grand children but the memories are sharp and clear to everyone in my age group. Christmas time was = of coming into the house on a cold day and the warm wood and coal heat felt so good on my cold face, fingers, and toes. Of the aroma of bread and christmas cookies baking, the smell of the live evergreen tree, complete with homemade decorations and glass balls, so carefully saved from year to year. The excitement of secretly making gifts for my parents and brothers and sisters. And , oh, that wonder of shopping in the stores of our little town! The hardware store and the grocery store had such a treasure of things to buy with my carefully saved pennies. If I was lucky enough to get a trip to the big city of Minot and then got to stay long enough to see the colored lights come on, it was magic. Most of the time, my family had to be home because there were chores to be done. All school and church programs started at 8pm because those chores had to be finished by the farm families first. I and everyone else were dressed in their best with parts to say or do in the programs. Then we each got a special treat of a sack of candy and nuts to take home!

Memories are great. Many say those were the ” good old days,” but I really like my electricy; hot and cold running water; bathrrooms and sewers; central heat; cars that start, with heaters and defrosters, roads that are cleared of snow; televisions; and phones that work. I am lucky to have lived to see all these marvels. Someday this will be the “good old days!”

How amazing it seems to me that all of these “marvels” are inventions that have all happened in my Aunt’s lifetime. I’ve been on the farm she talks about and can see her memories a little clearer. I’ve been to the small, “big city” of Minot and can picture the excitement! I love how she reminds us of all the things that we have to be thankful for. Things that many of us, including myself, complain about. The grass always does seem greener way back when and on the other side, but my aunt reminded me that the grass is pretty green right here, right now. Thank you God for all of the blessings I take for granted.

 

I was not expecting that… January 7, 2011

Wow, it has been a while since I have been on here. Taking care of four kids as a single mom will do that to a person.

Being a foster mom is just about what I thought it would be like. I paid attention in class. However, even though I paid attention and have heard of this happening, I was still caught off guard when it happened to me.

I have two girls who have been with me just since September 1, 2010. There have been many ups and downs. The four year old and I have had a lot of challenges that I have seen improve over the past few months. I always keep in mind whatever I know of past experiences for my foster kids, and that helps a lot. But challenges can wear anyone down. I absolutely love these two girls and wish they could stay with me, but I have known all along they were going to be reunited with family.

The family they will be reunited with are amazing and strong and trust in the Lord. I have a sense of peace for this transition that will be taking place soon. It is my job to begin preparing the girls for the move and so this is where my story actually begins.

On the drive home tonight it was pure chaos. My two four year olds were arguing like crazy all day. And I was just about out of patience, but a conversation came up between the two kids about getting to go to a family members to stay the night. I used this time as a way to bring up how exciting it will be for this little girl to soon get to live with her family member forever. And the little girl looked so shocked! Like I had just knocked the wind out of her, and she began to cry. ” I want to stay with you Jody.” I was taken aback by this response. She absolutely adores this family member and gets so excited every time she gets to go and stay the night. But at that moment the whole mood in the car changed. Because I was driving I told her we would talk about it more at home so I could actually hold her while I finished explaining it all to her. But she continued to cry softly and kept repeating, ” I really want to stay with you Jody.”

Why does this shock me? Because of how much she adores her family. Because of how often she tells me she hates me, even though I know it is just a coping tactict to deal with new boundries and rules, because she had been in such a mood all week that I thought for sure she would be excited. I never knew. She has always said she wanted to live with this family member. Her older sister has always expressed wanting to stay with me, and I see mood changes when we talk about it, but I never knew she, herself, wanted to stay.

When we got home I talked to her alone in her room. I held her and told her that I loved her so much, and that if it was my choice she would stay with me forever, but that her family missed her and really loved her a lot too and it was good for her to go back to live with them. That she would be safe and loved and cared for with her family. That her sister would be with her and her pets would be there too. She was trying to accept it, but was still crying and saying she wanted to stay with me. I finally ended with a big hug and told her, ” you have so many people that love you and all wish we could keep you, but only one of us can keep her, but that we would all stay in her life as best as we can.” She stopped crying and I told her again I loved her and we went out in the kitchen to make dinner. She was so perfectly behaved that I was fearful that she was hoping if she behaved I wouldn’t make her leave. Please pray for these two girls and their transition to their family’s home. Pray for both myself and this family member to know how to help them through the transition, and for God to give us the right words to say to comfort them. And finally for my own two children that started to get concerned that they would not get to stay with me forever and ever.

It was so hard to tell them that they would never have to leave me while not being able to tell that to the other two children. It just broke my heart. I was completely ready for this transition until tonight. Now I am left in wonder of all the things that transpired this evening.

I will say that I truley love being a foster mom and I NEVER thought I would feel that way. Who knew God’s calling for my life would be right here in my own back yard.

 

He begins to speak August 2, 2010

Filed under: adoptions in reno,Children,Life as a Mom — smlwoman @ 9:15 pm

My little boy has been doing pretty well lately. Not too much trouble at home or school. It has been refreshing. Tonight was the first time he mentioned his previous foster mom. I was taken by surprise because he didn’t seem to remember anything about them. I was getting ready to wash his hair in the tub when he asked if I was going to put his head under the faucet to wash his hair. I told him no, I was going to use the cup. He said, ” My brown mom used to put my head under the faucet and wash my hair.” It took me a minute to realize but his previous foster mom was hispanic hence his brown mom. I asked him if he missed his other mom and he said yes. I asked him if she was nice and he said, ” Yes she was nice to me. I had a daddy at my brown mom’s house.” I asked him if he liked me being his mommy. He said, ” yes, I want to stay with you all the time. Forever. I love you mommy. I told him I wanted him to be my little boy all the time too. Forever and that I love being his mommy. Then he kind of dropped it.

At dinner I asked him what he missed most about his other family that he used to live with. But he didnt’ really know. I told him I was happy he shared that memory with me. He smiled and then said, “This is good corn.”

I guess that was it for now. It has been a year and he has never talked about the other family. It was so interesting to hear a memory that snuck up us. I can’t wait to see if we will hear more. I put this story in his memory book. It will be fun to share it with him one day.

 

I Love His Laughter June 19, 2010

Filed under: adoptions in reno,Life as a Mom — smlwoman @ 8:02 pm

My favorite sound in the world right now is listening to my son laugh while he is watching a cartoon. It is such a genuine laugh and I hope it stays with him through adulthood. And I wish it was mostly like this. The CBS therapist and I had a great talk and gave some great suggestions to try. We put it into place immediately, and I hope we will see the fruit of it soon!