Ari B. is a Cumberland County Shining STAR
When Ari came to River of God Childcare Center, a Keystone STAR 2 quality-rated program, he was two. Now he is a bright, inquisitive and smart three and a half year-old! He is small for his age but strong. He is the friendliest boy you will ever meet. He is constantly full of questions and answers. He quickly picks up new skills and can even spell all the names of the children in his class! His father is a single dad. He also has an older brother, Brandt, in grade school. Both Ari’s dad and his brother are so patient with him. It is evident that Ari adores his father and older brother. At drop-off and pick-up, Daddy and Brandt are Ari’s focus.
When Ari first began attending the center, he was a very troubled two year-old. He struggled with many issues and meltdowns were daily. Meal times in general, he struggled through. If there was a food he didn’t like, he would refuse to try it. He would demand for more food and if the demand wasn’t met right away, he would cry and scream. He struggled to sit and keep his focus on the food in front of him. Meltdowns during lunch and after lunch were a daily occurrence.
Ari struggled socially with making friends and treating his friends with kindness. He would often tease his classmates by following them around the room, taking toys he knew other children were going to get. He would frustrate other classmates by staring, laughing and taunting them.
Another big struggle was dealing with authority. He constantly pushed and tested boundaries set by the teacher. For example, when a teacher would ask Ari to not open a door, he would do it in spite of what the teacher said. He was very jealous when a teacher would give their attention to another child in class. He would push or talk over the other child just to get some kind of attention from the teacher.
With the help of Lisa W., an Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant for Keystone STARS, his behavior slowly began to change. The two year-old classroom teacher began using visuals to help with daily routines. A visual schedule was put together and at the beginning of every day, he would put it together with the help of a teacher. Ari was given jobs to help him feel involved and even had special times to play alone with the teachers’ special toys. There was extra time put into the schedule for him to do Gross Motor activities to get energy out and special activities to help him calm down.
In January 2012, Ari moved with his classmates to the Pre-School class. Because of the number of children transitioning, a new Pre-School class was created with only seven children. Ari is now a completely different child! He tries new food daily. He doesn’t always like them, but it is not a fight to get him to try his food or eat what he does like. His meltdowns have decreased from daily to maybe once every ten days. He plays well with the friends in his class, listening to their words, sharing toys and having a genuine concern for them. Ari has become a better listening with his teacher and tries his best to obey and follow the tasks he is to complete. He no longer uses the visual schedule created for him. He no longer needs time by himself to play. He is still full of energy but better controls it and will tell his teacher when he needs to get some energy out.
Ari is an amazing little boy. He is such a happy child and we hope he is chosen as a “Shining Star.” He deserves it!
-Story written and submitted by River of God Church Childcare Center