This story was originally published in COA’s 2019 Annual Report. Read the whole report here.
Darian is a three-year-old biracial child enrolled at COA’s Riverwest Early Education Center. When Darian joined COA’s Riverwest Early Education Center at age three in January 2019, his teacher Ms. Shawndra quickly noticed his antisocial behavior. He refused to share with other children, resorted to hitting and disrespectful language whenever he did not get his way, spoke out of turn with adults, and did not effectively verbalize his needs.
Alarmed, Ms. Shawndra immediately reached out to Darian’s mother Evelyn to discuss how to improve his behavior. Although Ms. Shawndra did notice Darian’s behavioral challenges, she also noticed his positive attributes and his potential; and Ms. Shawndra invested in Darian’s positive development. Ms. Shawndra met with Evelyn, discussed her son’s aggressive behavior, and noted that this behavior was unacceptable and atypical of a three-year-old. Evelyn was receptive of Ms. Shawndra’s observations.
Through regular conversations with Evelyn, Ms. Shawndra learned that the Riverwest EEC was Darian’s first time ever being in a structured preschool environment. Furthermore, Darian did not have same-age children to interact with at home. Armed with better knowledge of Darian’s home situation, Ms. Shawndra took a passionate approach to investing in Darian and forming a close, supportive relationship with his mother. They were both committed to improving Darian’s behavior.
“Little by little, Ms. Shawndra noticed Darian’s behavior in the classroom improve.”
Whenever Darian displayed inappropriate behavior in his 3K classroom, Ms. Shawndra took time during naptime to call Evelyn. During calls Ms. Shawndra explained his negative behavior and also provided Evelyn with tips on how to better guide his behavior at home. Ms. Shawndra provided Evelyn with specific talking points. Evelyn would then speak to Darian about Ms. Shawndra’s concerns. For example, children at the EEC take regular outdoor walks. One time, Darian refused to keep pace with the children in the group and disobeyed teacher’s orders to stay together. That day, Ms. Shawndra called Darian’s mother and said: “Can you speak to Darian about how it is important to stay with the group when we are walking?” Ms. Shawndra was particularly concerned about his behavior because she knew the children were soon going on a field trip and it would be essential for them to stay together during the trip. Darian’s mother promised she would speak with him. Later that week when the children went on their field trip, Darian stuck with the group the whole time.
Little by little, Ms. Shawndra noticed Darian’s behavior in the classroom improve. With regular collaboration with his mother, many naptime phone calls, and staying on top of his progress, Ms. Shawndra observed Darian transform. Darian’s mother even met with Ms. Shawndra and a few other teachers at the EEC to discuss steps she could take in order to improve his behavior. During this meeting teachers suggested that Evelyn create a behavior chart at home. Evelyn did this and noticed Darian’s aggression further decrease.
By May 2019, Ms. Shawndra saw Darian do a complete 180. Now, Darian no longer hits other children, no longer talks back to teachers, is much better at sharing, and has drastically improved the way he communicates with others. Ms. Shawndra is amazed by Darian’s growth and the strong willingness of his mother to put in the work to better manage his behavior. Ms. Shawndra’s devotion and his mother’s dedication provided Darian with the necessary supports, guidance, and skills to improve his behavior. With just six months passed since starting at the Riverwest EEC, Ms. Shawndra is confident that Darian will continue to flourish.