This past Tuesday was a particularly bad session. Alisha was in tears more than half the time. A brown dry-erase marker appeared to be the trigger. Part of the Fundations program has the kids writing their letters on individual white boards with guidelines. Alisha wanted to write her l, k, and h in brown, but Miguel already had it. From that moment on she was inconsolable.
"If you really want the brown, Alisha, you may need to wait until Miguel is done."
"I don't want to wait." Her big, almost black eyes glared at me from between her braids.
I shrugged and moved on down the row of desks, giving the others stamps on their cards for their beautifully formed letters. Alisha wailed, picked up her red marker and got work. Her letters were lovely and I told her so as I added a stamp to her card. She grunted through her tears, refusing to look at me.
I left the Echos that day a tad confused. Why had Alisha regressed so much? Whatever the reason, it was getting far too disruptive. Was I unwittingly encouraging her? Did something happen at home? She had always seemed a tad immature for age five, but at what point does a child's emotional turmoil cross the line and become something requiring special intervention?
It was time to call in the troops. I spoke to the classroom teacher, the amazing classroom assistant, and three of my professors. I needed to know a few things before I could proceed:
- Did Alisha have a diagnosed behavioral or emotional disability? If so, I would need to see her Individualized Education Plan.
- Was there any recent turmoil at home that might be contributing to her behavior?
- Was there a change in her behavior in the classroom, as well, or only with me?
- Was there anything I was doing that encouraged her outbursts?
- Is this something that Alisha is capable of controlling?
For obvious reasons, I can't share some of the details I uncovered. Regardless, I entered the school yesterday armed and ready. It was Sticker-palooza Day with the Baby Echos. If Alisha was able to control her emotional outbursts, today would be the day.