Just turned three year old boy; behavior in group environments
My three year old boy goes to day care three days per week with children between 2.5 and 3 yrs. He loves it by the way. In January 2011 he starts in kindergarten with children between 3- 5 yrs. Right now he is not participating in group time. When the teacher reads stories he doesn't sit with the group. When they eat he doesn't sit at the table. When they dance to music he runs circles around the room. He plays outside really well and he is interested in connecting with the other boys and girls. He touches them and says "little boy" or "little girl". He is very cuddly and can pronounce difficult words really well but he doesn't hold conversations. He talks but he doesn't converse. He'll tell me what he wants or if there is a hurt, and he will answer yes or no. His memory is really good so I don't think he has a learning disorder or a mental disorder. I'm just wondering how we might get him to participate in group activities more regularly.
Hi. Well some kids do get overwhelmed in group settings for sure. It could just be emotional maturity as he is still a little guy. My son acted pretty much exactly like your son at that age when he went to preschool for 1 half day a week. He has an issue with his nervous system called sensory integration disorder. It is a processing issue. Now, my son is very smart and has always done really well academically so don't think that "disorder" means anything to do with intelligence. Where a disorder can get in the way though is if a child can't focus, sit for coloring time, participate in the group activity. This becomes a bigger problem as a child ages. An occupational therapist evaluated my boy and he has been doing OT which is involves play therapy/behavioral therapy. (3 year olds that wander room and don't participate often begin to have emotional outbursts and social difficulty at age 4 and older).
Here are things that help in a preschool classroom---------- giving choices. At circle time, "do you want to sit on your square or pull up a chair outside the group?" That type of thing. I wouldn't try to force him to do the hand motions to songs or sing as he may become very resistent to the whole thing. I'd try to set up some one on one play dates with another boy in class that is about an hour and a half to two hours and you stay active and involved and help him through the play time. It builds confidence with kids and helps guide through some of the tricky stuff of peer play.
If you boy is a spinner, a crasher and a bumper---------- he needs lots of physical outlets. I didn't realize that my son was using spinning to calm his nervous system so I would try to stop him (made me think something might be wrong). But he was driven to do it to self soothe. So, turn on music at home and let him spin like crazy (we called it dancing). Go to the park and run, jump, slide, climb, swing as often as you can and at least several times a week. Swim at an indoor pool if it is cold where you are at. Even if your son does not have an overactive nervous system (and in an enviroment in which he has little control and is overwhelmed, his brain is having trouble settling)----- it will still be good for him.
I'd just ask you to google sensory integration disorder. When you speak of the conversation piece-------- again this could be motor planning processing. We've been so thrilled with how well my boy is doing. And sometimes it takes some small changes to make a big difference.
One last thing------------ I'm not sure about "kindergarten with 3 through 5 year olds). In the US, kindergarten starts at 5---------- are you referring to preschool? Well----- my thoughts on this is don't push too hard. This is suppose to be fun for him. I was going back and forth between putting my boy at 4 into 2 day half day preschool or 3 and the director made a good point. If it is too stressful for him---------- it will backfire. So try what you have planned but watch for signs that it might be too much for him. And I think class with age mates is best personally. Otherwise, the older ones dominate and the younger ones follow and it is trickier to judge development. good luck
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