Thursday, December 3, 2009


Since I started working as a preschool teacher assistant over the summer, my schedule has been pretty much the same. I work three partial days a week (starting at 11:15) , and one whole day (arriving at 8:30 in the morning) in Classroom A, where all the students are four or five years old. That program finishes at 2:00. Most days I transition over to Classroom B, the extended day program, which has students of several ages, for an hour or so. However, everything revolves around the number of students in each classroom.

Two students left the school last month, so my hours were decreased. I was no longer needed in the extended day room every afternoon, and there weren't enough students in Classroom A to justify all the time I was there. However, I've been able to shift gears a bit and spend additional time concentrating on two of the special-needs children who needed extra help.

In Classroom A I'm working with a child that needs more one-on-one help to meet his annual goals. I've done things like supervising him while he sorts manipulatives into categories, helping him count sets of one, two, or three items, and playing games with him and some of the typically developing students in the classroom, who model behavior like taking turns. I also get to tag along when he has time scheduled with the Speech Pathologist or the Occupational Therapist. If there's a downside, I'm also doing more of the bathroom duty; this child is still working on toileting skills.

Another change in my duties is in the extended day room. There is a young boy with autism who attends one of the classrooms in the building. His mother would like him to stay for a while after his regular classroom day has ended, but he doesn't like the open, boisterous atmosphere of the extended day program. Ideally he'll transition into the room on a daily basis but right now he's coming two times a week. Guess who's helping him out?

He's there for an hour before his mother arrives to pick him up. We always start off in the large group environment, although we stay somewhat to ourselves at a table. I have a list of suggested activities from one of the assistants in his regular classroom. We paint, glue, and use stickers. He likes to listen to books and play with Duplos. Sometimes we successfully stay in the room the whole time, but sometimes we move to a different classroom so it's just him and me. We do the same activities, but in a much quieter atmosphere.

I was initially concerned when I found out that my job description was changing, but I'm having fun and learning a lot. You never know when the extra skills may prove to be helpful in the future.


  1. In my previous job [done while I was doing my thing a day blog] I worked @ a foundation that supported Canada's largest autism centre, so I learned a fair bit about it. I also have a cousin who is on the spectrum. But I do know that people with autism are generally not a fans of such environments [actually, I'm not either]. It's good that they are trying to get him more used to such environments, but I suspect it will be quite a struggle.

  2. Hello. Thanks for finding my blog. Besides our names and the blogs' names, I think we do have a lot in common. I am going to my first "tea" in two weeks for the group that gave me a small grant for college. How did yours go? Take care, Cathy

  3. Sydney-the first thing I did when I got this job was do some reading about autism. Back when I was in college (25+ years ago) they didn't really address it. I know that having him in a room with many other children is a goal, but I don't know how well he'll meet it.

    Cathy-the virtual tea was a lot of fun, but if I had to go to a real one, I still don't think I'd have a clue as to what it was about.

  4. I agree, adding skills is a good idea. Even though my education is human development I could not work as a pre-school teacher. It really takes someone with a great deal of patience - you must be very special, Kathy!

  5. God put you there for a reason. You are definitely doing God's work. Those special needs children need someone special just like you.

  6. Nancy and dkzody-thanks for your kind words.

    When I started this job I had to really work on lowering my expectations. It had been a very long time since I'd been in contact with young children,. I think I'm getting better.