Saturday, September 19, 2009

This parenting stuff is a crap shoot...

Last Friday, after BOY had been in Kindergarten two days, we received a phone call from a Charter school that they had an opening for BOY in Kindergarten. And...we had to let them know by Monday. Yep. So, after consulting with friends and a special education consultant who did express some cautions, and...after spending an hour or so at the school on Monday, we decided to move him. Again.

Unfortunately, we had been greatly disappointed in his Kindergarten class so far. True, it had only been two days, but some red flags had been raised. On the first day, I watched a little boy sob while his mom tried to say good-bye. A very normal sight during the transition to Kindergarten. However, what bothered me was that the teacher did not go over to help the mother. And...when the mother finally bit the bullet and left herself, the teacher continued to let him sob by himself at a table alone. It killed me. She finally did approach him when she was ready to talk to the class as a group.

Kindergarten appears to be a big adjustment for most children. For those children who had a few years of play based preschool, it is quite a surprise to have to "go to work." However, I believe that a good Kindergarten class can still have fun, and incorporate a bit of play time and creativity within the structure of the day. There was none of that in this class. BOY, who has always loved school, appeared subdued and sad when I picked him up. It was incredibly disappointing to look into the other Kindergarten classrooms and see that they did have a set of blocks, small toys, a cozy corner, etc. BOY's classroom looked like a...class room.

The school introduced a dual-immersion language program in Kindergarten & First Grade this year. There is a wonderful excitement and infusion of committed parents and teachers. It looks to be a fabulous program. The classrooms are bright and colorful, and the teachers are excited about teaching.

Unfortunately, it feels like the regular Kindergarten classes are being overlooked, which is unfortunate. I know it must be extremely challenging for the Principal to have the new language program and manage the other classrooms. However, the other classrooms are also full of darling little children, eager to learn.

I think it is very important that BOY have room to run and play during recess. However, because of scheduling and dealing with added enrollment in Kindergarten, BOY's class had to use the preschool playground. The preschool playground that is not big enough for preschoolers. Not exactly a place where children can run and stretch. And by BOY's last day there, Tuesday, he had spent quite a few minutes benched during recess, for misbehavior.

So, what was the difficulty in the decision to move him? The new school does not have aides in the classroom. He will have one teacher at a time, except for an occasional parent volunteer. It is a big risk.

He can still get his Occupational Therapy services both at this school, and at the clinic after school. We wouldn't have moved him if he didn't continue to get these services. I plan to work closely with the new Special Education team. We will have an IEP in 30 days to create a plan to help make his transition and learning successful.

Yet...the new school is on a large campus up in the hills, where BOY will get to move his body. The teachers are young and enthusiastic and passionate about teaching. There are chickens in a large pen, in the play area outside his classroom. Along with large sandboxes made by parent volunteers, a water table, and easels for painting. The classrooms all have a whole wall of windows looking outside. Inside they are bright and cheery, with wide open space. The regular recess playground is a huge, wide open space. They have a morning recess there with the other Kindergarten class, and the lunch recess is shared with the 1st and 2nd graders.

The school is different in their approach. Instead of staying in one room all day, the kids move to two other classrooms. They have a math class and a literacy class. So, BOY has 3 teachers. He starts out with his main teacher, then moves to Reading class, and later the Math class.With recesses and lunch thrown in between, and he finishes up with his main teacher.

Some children with sensory integration issues are overwhelmed by all the moving about to different places. I am hopeful that this will not be an issue for BOY, but that it will help him not having to stay in one classroom all day. We shall see...

It is yet another change for BOY, and he is handling it so well. He appears to like it, and has a close friend in the other Kindergarten class who he gets to play with during the recess times. But, it is new for him. And a little scary. He cried yesterday when I dropped him off. It was so hard to hand him off to the Kindergarten teacher and walk away. So hard. I need to let him make his way a bit. Yet, he is my little boy...

On Monday I got to sit in and observe his three teachers. I really liked what I saw. The teachers have different teaching styles, but all have a firm hand. Since BOY is starting to read, I have high hopes that his passion for reading will flourish there.

One of the biggest challenges, this year, will be his writing. It is difficult for BOY, but he will get there. He is reluctant to do it, because he thinks he cannot do it. But, like so many things in BOY's young life so far, he is unable to do something...and suddenly we realize that he is just doing it. He had to get there in his own time.

The journey continues. I hope and pray it is the right decision. This parenting stuff is a crap shoot...

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  1. it really is a blessing to witness the pure love you have for your kids.

  2. I believe its a right decision... then again, time will tell... but the thing you can celebrate now is, you MADE a decision. I've seen so many parents who had the 'couldn't care less' attitude... even when the situation is downright hurting the little child....

  3. These decisions are so gut wrenching; sounds like you made a great choice though.

    You're so right about the "crap shoot" angle. It sure feels that way sometimes.

    Keep writing!

  4. Wow, what a hard decision. It pains me to see kindergarten classrooms that are so harshly academic. We can largely thank the state of California for that. However, those K teachers who really know kids and really know their stuff will do what the state mandates all the while remembering the other important things about 4 and 5 year olds. Like playtime and fun. Also...the dual immersion program sounds like a wonderful idea, but I'm wary of massive overarching programs that distract from the work that we originally entered the classroom to do.

    Right now my school administration is busy dabbling in things that detract from our original purpose....taking care of the kids we have the very best we can.

    I wish BOY the best in his new school. Keep us updated. Charter schools can be so fabulous....or so terrible. They are a huge risk but with huge payoff potential.

    Diego is in K this year, too. We adore his teacher. But he insists that he hates kindergarten because it is too long and too hard.

  5. The school site sounds wonderful.

    Even if this isn't the perfect place for him it sounds as though you had to get him out of the other setting. There MUST be fun in school.

  6. You did the right thing! We're at a charter school and love it. So much more freedom.

  7. it is a crap shoot! why didn't someone tell me? BOY is lucky to have you watching out for him so closely. and being so intentional about his education and just everything.

  8. I'm glad they had a spot for Boy.
    It sounds like the moving about will be very good for him. I know what you mean about them coming along in their own time...ALL children are like that. Sad that so many are tied to "averages" and "most children are doing this by whenever" timetables. Blessings to you all :)

  9. This parenting stuff is a crap shoot. That says it all.

  10. Who knew we would have to make so many hard decisions?! I hope things work out perfectly.

  11. "He appears to like it"

    A bright ray of hope. Crap shoot is right. Get the wrong teacher one year and you realize how important a role they play (we found out last year .. our "little miss sunshine" to all the former teachers was seen as a "little devil child" to the last one..yikes was that hard).

    Best wishes to your little guy and I hope he sails through this latest adjustment.

  12. It sounds like you've made the right decision and moved BOY to a program that will offer him many exciting possibilities, as well as being in an environment that is supported by both teachers and parents who want the best for their children.

  13. It IS a crap shoot, Jennifer. You just do your best and hope.


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