puppy goes to school

Sunday, June 7, 2009

(Liam's alter-ego, Puppy)

As I've mentioned before, Liam started "nursery school" (basically day care) a week after we returned to Sokcho from our trip to the states. I never thought I'd be sending my child to daycare, since staying home has always been a huge priority to me. However, I haven't been able to provide Liam with consistent social interaction with children his own age. Most often, he plays with elementary school children at the playground, who treat him like a pet or doll, and let him get away with just about anything. In deciding to stay for a second year, we concluded that Liam needed more appropriate interaction, even if we have to pay for it. (As an added benefit, he should pick up more Korean than the few words and phrases we use with him on a regular basis.)

We registered him at an 어린이 집 (eurini jip or "Children's House") just two buildings (and two parking lots) from our apartment. A friend's son attended until he reached the upper age limit of about 3 1/2. We had also seen the caregivers and children interacting at the playground and it seems like they provide quality care. The only drawback is that their structured activities all take place in the morning, which is our family time before Matthew goes to work. Instead, Liam goes after nap time (because he almost never naps anymore) and basically plays, with supervision, for about four hours.

The first week, he went three days, then came down sick with the flu. The next week, we kept him home for several days because the rest of us were still sick. He went that Thursday because he begged to go when Matthew went to work. When I tried to take him on Friday, he wanted to go anywhere but there, and ended up taking a nap as soon as we got home. When he didn't want to go the following Monday or Tuesday, we started to suspect it was because he consistently bit kids each day he went to "school" and got in trouble for it there and at home.

We had basically given up on sending him, but on Wednesday when Matthew headed out the door to return Liam's backpack (which the 어린이 집 provided), he freaked out and wanted to go. We told him that if we paid for the month of June, he has to go every day. (How much of that he understands, I don't know. He's beginning to grasp the concept of money, though, and likes to buy snacks at the local convenience stores.) He wasn't too happy when Matthew dropped him off, but was having a great time when I picked him up. And...he hadn't bitten anyone that day. As hard as we'd come down on him for biting, we put the same energy into praising him for keeping his teeth to himself. All the privileges he'd lost were returned along with extra hugs, kisses, and high fives. He didn't bite on Thursday or Friday, either, although Saturday he bit a child at a birthday party. (I hang my head in shame.)

He's now attended a total of seven days over the course of three weeks, but he seems to be enjoying "school" and settling into a routine. We plan to send him at least through the summer. I'm not excited about the prospect of being sick throughout the fall and winter because of germ-infested toddlers, though. We're looking for activity-based classes he could attend starting in fall, like a weekly tumbling or art class. By that point, Rowan will be more independent and interactive, which will be easier for all of us.

The 어린이 집 provides each child with a special back pack and a book with a page for each day. The caregivers circle appropriate information about the child's activities, meals, naps and, um, toilet behaviors for the day. If I was a working parent who sent my child there all day, I'm sure that record would be very helpful and reassuring. Since Liam's only there for a short time, most of it isn't applicable. Also, on Fridays, they send home a paper with the scheduled activities and menus for the following week. (That was a fun activity for practicing our Korean reading and comprehension skills!)

(The biting isn't part of his pretending to be a dog. It's just his inappropriate way to deal with conflicts, which seems to be improving as he develops more self-control and better verbal skills. "Puppy" likes to pick things up with his mouth and run around barking. His other alter-ego is "Pig" who runs into things, like Wilbur trying to bust down the fence in Charlotte's Web. He's quite the little "ham.")


One response to “puppy goes to school”
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How awesome! I wish we could send Tyge to nursery school... I think he'd really enjoy the social like Liam does.

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