Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Group classes and orphanage kids

I could use some advice on something odd I'm seeing with Quinn, adopted 11 months ago and now almost 28 months old.

At home and even out and about, he engages with us, plays interactive games, laughs, listens and is a joy to be around. Same goes for when family or friends visit the house. He loves his Gymboree exercise class and interacts well with the kids there, although there isn't a ton of interaction built into the class.

However, he seems to hate group classes. Tom takes him to music class one a week (Quinn LOVES music and wants it on all the time). But in class he is not a bit interested in anything except shaking maracas when it's time and staring at the CD player.

I've taken him to library story time about five times and that seems to be even worse. Today the only things he wanted to do were grab the necklace of the little girl next to him and, like in music class, check out the CD player (he is quite taken with ours at home, too). He didn't want to sit in my lap to listen to the story (although he'll happily let me read to him for 30 minutes or more at home). He wants no part of the craft projects except to throw the crayons. They always sing a beanbag song during story time, so I taught it to him at home and he has it down cold. We haven't gone to story time in about a month and today I was excited to see if he'd do the beanbag song with the other kids. Nothing. He showed no recognition of the song and did none of the movements he knows so well. If I hold him in my lap during the stories, he squirms and is miserable. If I let him go, he either runs to the CD player or tries to kiss a kid, which typically gets a bad reaction from either the kid or the parent. He was doing so many odd things today that a little girl asked her mom, "What's wrong with that boy?" and other parents were encouraging their kids not to stare at him.

Quinn spent his first 16 months in a BIG orphanage (500 kids) and I wonder if he just had enough of big groups of kids or, worse, if he fears he's back in the orphanage. I'm stumped about how to help: Should I just accept that he isn't ready for group classes and stop going or should I make him keep going in order to get him used to being around other kids?

He doesn't go to pre-school or daycare, so these classes are his only interaction with kids his age.

Thanks for any help or observations you may have!


Snickerdoodle said...

He might not be ready. Funny advice, considering he came from an orphanage with that many kids, but it could be true.

Same thing with mine and ballet class. Loves music. Loves to dance. Talked endlessly about Bawwet Cwass, but when it came time to do the class, she just burst into tears. I stopped taking her. I'll try her in a year or so.

He may just prefer hanging out with you. :) There could be many reasons why this is happening, and sometimes, we only know in retrospect why they were bothered. I wouldn't worry too much at this point. Try waiting til he is older and see if he's less bothered by it all. It might be a sensory overload kind of thing where he just shuts down, because all the noise and activity puts him in overdrive.

Snick :)
dd Sunshine 8 VN
dd Brilliance 3 China

Jill said...

He definitely does seem shut down in story time, but not any other time. Maybe it brings something up for him or maybe he's just over big groups of kids! Hopefully he'll grow out of it by kindergarten...

China Dreams said...


I think you should just go with your gut instincts here-is it worth it to be taking him to these classes? Or is it just too much trauma for all of you? Another thing to think about, especially in our crazy "it's good to be exposed" world-did you go to this many classes when you were his age?

Aidan loves baseball but would not stay for try-outs last spring. So I waited for soccer season. Same result. He loves kindergarten but he hates the multi-purpose room where the kids assemble in the morning before they are called into class. He freezes up and hangs onto my husband who waits until classes are called before leaving him, even though Aidan has friends all over the room waving and calling his name.

I think it is better to let him find what he loves in the safety of your home and small groups. He is young; there is no rush.

kyburg said...

He likes what he likes - and maybe he would do better with more experience, but a different venue.

I just got a lead on a gym class for toddlers - active, running, climbing, jumping, whatever - but structured. I'm going to take it up with my fella when I get home - sounds like he likes the change of pace, but maybe just needs more experience with it (and what acceptable behavior might be).

Phil and Sherry said...

Our DD, adopted at 22 months, does miserably in groups. More than five children and she goes into anxiety mode. It almost seems like a survival mechanism--sorting out what is safe and what is not. She's been home 2.5 years and it is slowly better, but still not gone. We just do what she can tolerate. She also does better if she has some "settle in time", so we go to story time at the library about 20-30 min early to let her feel out her surroundings and not feel thrown into a situation.

Our Beijing Boy is the complete opposite--more kids=more fun time.