Monday, August 1, 2011

The Big Dealio

All Righty...

So if you have been reading this blog you will already be aware that I did allow the children to go to school this year. So both Cubby and Miss H trekked off to what I thought would be the best of my their options. I bristled a little bit when we were alerted to the no backpack rule after purchasing backpacks for the school year. But navigated the ever confusing car-rider pick up line anyhow. I kept signing the weekly packet and returning it, and listening to the kids recount their experiences.

There was alot of fun happening at Kindergarten. There was dance twice a week, which sounded a lot like freeze dance and direction following. There was music, which consisted mainly of singing. In class there was something called "settle in" and math centers, which from teaching the investigations curriculum looks alot like playtime. There was art, twice a week, the products from which were mainly marker/crayon/pencil line drawings.  After Christmas there was a Mondrian lesson, ASeurrat lesson, and a shading with pointilism lesson (I'm guessing was part of the Seurrat sessions). They watercolored some tulips for Mother's day. From their main teacher we took our turn with Brown Bear, and recorded his adventures. I waited for the "learning" the developmentally appropriate, the stretching of the children into more. But it did not come. I was told by the teacher that according to her assessments Cubby was a better reader than Miss H, (which is not accurate) and when I asked if during writing time they could be help accountable for more High frequency words with an additional list, or if she could write words they thought they would use during their writing that day in a bank for them the Mr. and I were told "Oh we don't really do that" When I asked Miss H, who LOVES to read why she wasn't bringing home books anymore she said that her teacher only had baby books in the classroom. When I asked the teacher if she kept a more challenging set of books somewhere she said it would be best if I just picked out books for Miss H because she didn't know what would be appropriate for her. What??! Certainly she's not the first kindergartener to read??! Don't worry, I didn't say that outloud.
They had a spring program, and I will admit the only picture of a school performance I had were my own elementary experiences and the program I witnessed as a student teacher at a school across town.
Cubby was crushed. The "Kindergarten" performance was actually a show to be preformed and choreographed by school of the arts dancers, and so the Kindergarteners were actually performing very little. Cubby spent more time "onstage" during our church's Christmas Eve family service, and.. I really wish they would have asked me to help with the costumes because they secured Miss H's headfeather to her head (along with the other 8 birds) with bright WHITE ONE INCH Elastic, and that was really distracting for me during the show. I MEAN REALLY distracting.
Anywoo we trekked on. I'm going to gloss over the part where the teacher seemed to insinuate that Cubby was a racist, because he is a history buff and quite imaginative. Because my heart speeds up when I think about it.
Both the kids really enjoyed having two "outside plays" everyday, although one one was supposed to be an organized game and it doesn't appear to have been so very often. (It's okay I just taught, jumprope, hopscotch, chinese jumprope, at home. Also the kindergartener's were not allowed to bring a ball to school, don't ask me why) They made some good friends.
We attended a few parties, I liked many of the parents we met they were great. The class is diverse in every way imaginable and fun. I really liked the way the teacher interacted with the kids, you could tell that she was a genuine nurturer. The kids sensed this too and really took to her, it is a comfort to send your kids off to school and know that the person watching over them enjoys them.

So the kids had a lot of fun. They learned very little. But they played some rhythm sticks in class, and wrote some funny journal entries (always in response to a prompt, and never a developed story) Also did I mention that the principal knows every student by name? I think that's pretty awesome. Last year she also taught a class because they needed to add a class to maintain class size, and she subs one day for each teacher in the building. All of that is awesome to me.

So.. I had just resigned myself to start over in a new year with a new teacher and seize the experience so to speak, just make the most of whatever the year offered and continue to supplement what I thought they were not getting at school. (So this year we did alot of journaling, reading and TALKING about what we read and Math workbooks.. because in the words of Cubby they only let us count to ten (they did eventually go higher but it took a LONG time)

When we got this call from another school saying they had spots for both Cubby and Miss H (and also a pre-k spot for Andrew) and my initial response was "Praise GOD!!" and then I wondered if it was the right choice. This school has art only once every two weeks. Music once a week (for 30 minutes) Enrichment is listed, and they go swimming part of the year at the local Y, but there's no drama, no first friday sings, no "performances" of any kind. Then I got all panicky.
The Mr. says I am impossible.

So I don't know which is right. Which IS right? Have I become someone who is willing to sacrifice fun in favor of time on task? Have I, who once had my surprise teaching evaluation when I had set aside a morning for my fifth graders to water color paint a response to one of our stories, become someone who is skeptical of the value of art? There is no gaurantee that this new school will give me teacher who will do the things I found so lacking in last years experience, and there is no guarantee that the creativity that is encouraged at their current school will be as treasured at the new school.

I had always thought that the biggest impact in a students school experience was the teacher, but what of school culture? The current school has a "we're so glad you're here" vibe about it. This new school seems to be, "we can't wait to grow you!" but what if my kids would grow just fine because I am so completely unnerved about them possibly not doing quality work? am I forcing them to sacrifice comfort and fun and creativity because I think I know better than them?

--Finally, did I mention that I loved school. I always loved school. I can recall nearly every teacher I had and usually a funny anecdote or memorable experience I had with them. I Loved my elementary school, and the distinct love I felt there, I even wanted Miss Gollub to adopt me.  But my elementary experience had everything. Paint, sculpture, papier mache, throwing of pots, plays, performances, music, xylophones, recorders, soccer, flag football, swings, and when I told mrs. Brusin on the first day of Kindergarten that I didn't need to do this phonics workbook because I could already read, she handed me  a first grade textbook.

How do I accomplish this for my own kids. Who have been reading HArry Potter this week?


snoopy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
snoopy said...

I didn't like school.
But I did like my teachers
Your kids will do just fine
So hang in there

Controlling My Chaos said...

I think the teacher and the school culture are both important. It would probably help you to make a decision if you could go and observe some classes at both schools. Even better, if you could volunteer at both places, you would get a much better feel for which place is right for your kids. It's difficult to know when you are on the outside looking in, because you don't have the whole picture.

Emma and Dan said...

You can supplement whatever is missing at whichever school that they go to because you're amazing. Pray about it and go with the answer that you get.

I know last year was really frustrating, but I think you're right to really examine your choices before choosing a school for this year.

Maybe their new teacher will be better able to adapt and individualize her instruction this year than last year's teacher. I don't see what's so hard about it, but then I was a seasoned 3 year veteran when I retired to stay at home. So I had all that time to figure it out. :)

Andrea said...

This sounds really stressful. :( Have you made your decision? Your kids will excel regardless (and in spite of) whatever you do. They are very bright and you are constantly supplementing their learning. It will be ok whatever you decide! You have great kids.