Wednesday, May 29, 2013

About a boy

I've been meaning to write some things about this boy for a while now.
I guess this is a good time since it's the end of the school year, a good time to evaluate and contemplate.

About a year ago, this little boy was being naughty in Primary.
He had 2 teachers who were good, sweat ladies.
One was a little grandma who is now a missionary.  The other was a mom of 2 quiet girls.
And those poor ladies did not know what to do with the wildest group of Primary kids in state of Utah.
One week, Sister T. found us after church and said that Cole had been naughty for the last few weeks. And maybe, perhaps I could join them for class time next week.
Come to find out, I was not the only parent that was invited to come to class.  But I think that I was the only parent that showed up to class.  
I realized one thing, I would be attending Primary for the next 6 years if this is how it was going to work.  
I realized that Cole (and 8 other kids) knew just how much they could get away with.
And it was a lot more than they should be getting away with.
I threatened.  I spied.  I stood outside the Primary room door and listened.
I read about what to do.  I asked about what to do.
One thing I wanted to make sure is that when inappropriate behavior was exhibited, that it was immediately identified and that the appropriate punishment was handed down.
I don't think that it is OK to hear about a problem 2 or 3 weeks after the fact.
It was just a matter of making it through class time week after week.
I didn't think it was fair to the teachers and I think that it certainly reinforced inappropriate behavior.

 So, Rick and I worked hard on a plan to help this little guy learn how to behave at Church.
It was tough, but we came up with a plan:
We decided that attending Primary needed to be a privilege.
And in order to earn that privilege, Cole needed to learn how to behave in a way that was appropriate for Primary.  His teachers and leaders love him and Primary is fun.
What is not fun, is being 6 and attending Gospel Doctrine.
so,  that is what we did.  Cole, Rick and I attended Gospel Doctrine together.
No coloring books, no matchbox cars, no iPad.
Just plain old Gospel Doctrine and a Book of Mormon.
And if that wasn't enough...High Priest Group, too.
We made sure his teacher knew he was at Church, but that Cole would be attending a different class while he learned what correct behavior was for church.
I have to admit, it was super painful to not let him go to Primary.
I hated making him sit next to me in Sunday School.
We let him decide when he was ready to go back to Primary.
In the meantime, his cute little grandma Primary teacher had gone on a mission and the other teacher had received a different calling.  
About 3 months later, when he returned to Primary he had a new teacher.  a man teacher.
I explained the situation to his teacher and made sure that he knew not to allow incorrect behavior and that I wanted to know immediately when something was wrong--not a week or two later.  It's too hard to correct behavior problems when not addressed immediately.
We talked to Cole every week about being the good example. 
It's a busy, busy class.
He tried so hard.  He really wants to do what is right.
I would usually sit in the back of the Primary Room during sharing time, especially when Rick would be at work.  Those were usually the weeks when it was the hardest to behave.

He's still working on it.  We have a new Primary presidency.
New teachers.  New kids.  18 of them to be exact.
They finally have 2 teachers now, after 3 months of just one teacher.
So, we're still trying really hard.  His leaders and teachers keep me posted and tell me that he is doing a really good job (most of the time--he is a boy!)

After a lot of contemplation and research and thought and more thought,
We decided to have to switch to Sage Creek Elementary School for first grade.
Logistically it makes sense...he can walk to Sage Creek (school out of our boundaries).
Or he can bus to Mapleton (in our boundaries).
But, we were really excited about the opportunity for him to be in the Chinese Immersion program at Sage Creek. (all the reasons for that will be posted later)

I think he was nervous to go to a different school.
After a few weeks of school, I started to get calls from his teacher and from the principal.
Cole was acting out.  Not bad, but still not acceptable behavior.
He pinched someone.  He hit someone.  He took a pencil.
When the principal called me the second time, I had to go get Cole.
He wasn't allowed to stay at school.
And if he didn't fix his behavior, he wouldn't be able to stay at school.
He hated school.  I felt so bad because we were the ones that made the decision for him to go to a new school.  
I started to doubt my decision to switch schools.
But, after a lot of talking and thinking and praying, we realized that Cole was being bullied at school.
He was new, he wore the wrong clothes, and he didn't have any friends.
He was mostly bullied by older kids, not so much his classmates, but still.
We got rid of clothes.  Bought new clothes.  A new pair of shoes.
I made an appointment to talk to his teachers.
I explained what I had discovered.
It made sense to them.  They did not realize that he did not attend Kindergarten at Sage Creek.
Mrs. S made an effort to let him choose a friend to sit next to each week. (only if he earns it)
We discovered which kids were teasing him.
I signed permission forms for him to attend counseling.

Almost immediately he started doing better in school.
His behavior was better.  His reading was improving.  His attention span was improving.
One thing that made a huge difference was that I started helping in the classroom.
I told his teachers that it wouldn't matter what I was doing, I just needed to be in the classroom.
And it helped a ton.

It just broke my heart to know that he was struggling.
I had no idea how those little things were affecting him and his behavior.
He continued to attend counseling throughout the year and has grown by leaps and bounds!

He went over to the high school for homecoming to help Summer with some of her responsibilities.
He helped move rugs and extension cords.
He even had his pocket knife and was able to help Coach Smith cut some tape.

Things were pretty quiet for Cole's birthday.
Actually, he was convinced that we had forgotten his birthday.

It was priceless when he walked into the kitchen and saw the mini party we had set up for him.
2 days later we all went to the Killers concert at UVU.

 Cole got this bow and arrow set for Christmas.
It was fun to take them down to St. George and shoot at the target.
He's a pretty good aim!!

Having a little "Veyo Pie"

I love this picture

Valentines Day Musical Chairs
I was so surprised that Cole could wear a red headband with pink hearts and play musical chairs.
It was fun to be at his school for Valentines Day.  
His behavior at school improved so much throughout the year.

Rick and I both were able to go to the farm with Cole's class in May.

There was a giant slide at the farm.

On May 16, Cole gave a "Great Brain" presentation on a subject of his choice,
he chose to teach his classmates about Portuguese Water Dogs.

He was able to bring Hooee to school and let his friends pet Hooee.
And we were able to get Hooee to do a few tricks and follow some of Cole's commands.

So cute watching these guys walk home from school.

This is Cole and Ms. Chen on the last day of school.
Ms. Chen was hard on Cole, but in a good way.  She taught him so much.
More than just Chinese.  Ms. Chen lived in our ward boundaries and came to Church last week.
She leaves in 4 days to move back to Taiwan.
If you can't tell, I am totally red-eyed from crying.

Cole and Mrs. Shaffer.
She has to be one of the best teachers in the world.
That was definitely one huge advantage of having Cole in the Chinese Immersion Program--they certainly did choose the best teachers for this program.  
(And the class size was much smaller than the Utah average)

Thank You to everyone that nurtured, taught, or made a positive impression on this little boy over the past year.  I just love him so much.  Maybe it's because he has so much love to give. 
He really is so sweet and so generous.  He will share anything.  
He is stubborn/strong-willed.  But, I believe that those are important character traits to have in these last days.  It just becomes more and more important for us to help him learn how to develop that to be in his benefit.


Kristine said...

I love that little guy! And I love the pic with Lillie.

Amara said...

I never stop rooting for Cole. He's one of my favorite little guys. You can see his heart right through his eyes. Great job choosing the pictures of him in this post -such a difference in his expressions, they really told the story.