Siah is a beautiful, healthy, and happy 6-1/2-year-old who can’t wait to turn 7. It seems each year keeps getting better and better for this precocious little boy. After years of playing soccer and T-ball, he will finally be old enough to play flag football while continuing to take the swimming lessons he enjoys so much. While he waits for that big day in January, he wants his great grandfather, Papa, to teach him to skateboard.
“I think I’ll start with getting him roller-skating lessons,” Papa said quickly in response to the request. Siah has been the joy of Papa’s life for four years now, since the two of them started living together after family members decided it was the best decision.“It’s just the two of us,” Papa said. “It’s been great, but it’s been an adjustment for the both of us.”
Siah was a very energetic, independent toddler, and Papa worked constantly to show him love and security to allow the boy to finally relax and enjoy just being a kid. “I am a very patient man,” Papa said, “and it took a lot of time.”
Living in Arlington but working in Fort Worth full-time, Papa took the search for an early learning center very seriously and began to speak to friends and co-workers about the best options. He had no interest in just a run-of-the-mill day care for his special great grandson.
“A friend of a friend at work gave me a brochure on Lena Pope’s Early Learning Center (ELC), and the history of the organization made it an easy choice for me,” Papa recalled. “I knew they would understand what Siah was going through. The one thing he never had was structure, and the ELC had that.”
Both Papa and Siah fell in love with the staff at Lena Pope and felt the teachers and teachers’ aides were well equipped to teach Siah and make him feel safe.
Susanne Luebke, Director of the Early Learning Center, was immediately taken with Siah. “We could tell from the very beginning that Siah was a special little boy,” Susanne said. “He was super-smart. He was way above average with gross motor skills and had exceptional fine motor skills. The problem was, Siah couldn’t sustain any attention or focus on those areas to realize his potential. When you are that bright, but you can’t access it because of your lack of focus, you get frustrated. Those are behaviors of a child that may need some outside help. We referred Papa to a doctor who was able to assess Siah and treat him.”
The team at the ELC worked with Siah’s doctor on the best strategy for him to learn to read and write. “The curriculum we use [HighScope®] is designed for individual development, which is perfect since it allowed us to adapt to what worked best for Siah,” Susanne said. “He gets bored very easy, and they kept up with him and made him feel comfortable,” Papa said. “They pampered him, and he began to thrive.”
Besides the assessment referral, Papa took a series of Conscious Discipline classes to learn the behavior management practices of the ELC and to help Siah self-regulate and learn that discipline is not about being bad or punished. It is about keeping and reassuring the little ones that they’re safe and showing them how to succeed.
“Without the ELC, Siah would not be as advanced as he is now,” Papa said. “The whole school is awesome.” After two years at the ELC, Siah enrolled in Chapel Hill Academy. Papa was elated. Speaking about the challenges of a new school and Siah’s needs, Papa said, “Chapel Hill Academy is different but the same. You are still going in the ‘house,’ just using a different door. I think he will continue to excel. If I can keep him at CHA, I know it will all work out.”