Adjusting to Kindergarten, Part 3

At the risk of sounding ‘anti-education’ I have to say Kindergarten is sort of a….bust for me. At least so far.

As far as I’m concerned, there’s only one thing in the ‘pros’ category: the entertainment/occupation/advancement of my oldest son. The ‘cons’ category has a few more items: driving to school twice a day; inconvenient time slot (12-2.45); fundraisers (casino night, coupon book sale drive; Scholastic book fair and card sale drive….and that was just the first three months); remembering the jillion events on the school calendar (‘no school’, library day, reading day, school pictures, class pictures, kids’ yoga etc.) and homework.

We had a reprieve for the first nearly two months. The kid went to school, and he came home. And that was it. Then, one blessed day in mid-October he came home with a blue folder in his backpack.

The Home Reading Program.

The folder contained a tiny (Scholastic) book sealed in a ziploc bag. And a log – so that you, slacker parent, can record how often you read this book with your child. The instruction sheet also contained a reminder to send the book back to school every Tuesday so it could be replaced with a different book. Not to be confused with library books and library days. Even though it is…confusing.

The books feature awesome prose, like: ‘I like big dogs….I like little dogs….I like wet dogs….I like cold dogs….But I really like….hot dogs.’

I think the goal is for your child to magically absorb the oft-repeated words (I, like, dogs) and in the future be able to spontaneously recall them from his memory bank. ‘Hey, that’s dogs!’ or something like that. Clearly I’m not an educator.

The thing that is tricky, aside from trying to maintain one’s patience when one’s child wails ridiculous things like ‘I can’t read’…’I will never read ever again’, is finding a window of time to do the work. Especially when you have a two year old and a nearly three month old hanging around. I mean, it seems counter-intuitive to put the two year old in front of a movie… work on reading with the five year old. ‘Here, you watch a movie while I work on your brother’s brain?!’ But the other option is to do it at 7pm when he’s tired and I’m ready to draw the curtains on the parenting experience.

And just when I was starting to fret about finding even ten minutes of alone time with my boy each day, another folder appeared in his backpack. The black, duotang folder. With homework pages. And another log: evidence of your ‘commitment’ to your child’s education.

This week’s page: a list of the colors in Spanish. So now, in addition to reading fun things like ‘I like big dogs’ I also have to review the colors in Spanish and listen to arguments from my oldest about why he wants to call light-brown ‘marron’ instead of ‘cafe’. Or why he wants to call pink ‘rosa’ instead of ‘rosado’.

The other night I was counting from 1-100 (as requested by the Gort) while cooking dinner to the soundtrack of one infant and one toddler screaming. It felt like a bizarro IQ test.

Yesterday was report card day. The Gort’s first report card. It brought back all of my own anxieties and issues with report cards. Which I was trying very hard not to pass on to him. We got in the car after pick-up and I tried my best not to rip the backpack off his back to get my hands on the report card. ‘You need to read it in the car,’ he instructed, ‘my teacher said you have to read it in the car,’ he advised when I tried to postpone the experience until we got home.

So I calmly removed the blue folder from his backpack. I reviewed the grading system (4, 3, 2, 1) and quickly scanned the 32 areas of assessment for any marks of brilliance; any signs that we have a genius on our hands. There were none. Not a single ‘4’ anywhere. ‘Demonstrates an awareness of personal health and safety’….a 2?! What does that even mean? And art – his milieu, his forte…a 3?!’

‘During large group and teacher-led activities, he likes giving his opinions and sharing ideas. He still needs daily reminders to raise his hand in order to talk and not interrupt the teacher or his peers.’

Wha? (Oh, wait, I can see why she might have said that.)

I thought about our upcoming conference with his teacher and how I was going to have to give her a piece of my mind about her woeful under-assessment of my firstborn.

Thankfully it was still a week away. And rational Nicola had a brief window of opportunity to make an appearance in the twenty four hours that followed the shock over the first report card. When a modicum of sober judgment returned, I determined that his teacher had merely left room ‘for improvement’ as it were. Clearly, if the Gort was going to have all 4’s by the end of Kindergarten, he had to start off with mostly 3’s. Otherwise, why finish the year?

Rational Nicola also concluded it would be best to send the professor to the teacher’s conference. Alone. He’s more likely to be ‘reasonable’ and not ‘defensive’. However, I will be sending with him a small portfolio containing my child’s work which refutes her assessment, point by point.

Es un autentico genio, Senora.

6 thoughts on “Adjusting to Kindergarten, Part 3

  1. My mom, a teacher, asked me about Ranger’s preschool experience. On the whole it’s been good and he’s learning a lot of social stuff (sharing, clean up time, etc.).

    Ranger’s always been in love with symbols, so much of the actual academic curriculum is follow-up.

    “I like his teacher,” I added, “but I’m always disappointed that she doesn’t notice how special he is…”

    “I always felt that way when you and your brother were in school too” she replied.

    I guess if even veteran teachers feel like their kids aren’t fully appreciated, it’s perfectly normal for non-educators as well.

    Plus, you have the advantage of seeing your son more individually than his teachers will. All his/her interactions are colored by the presence of many more children.

    P.S. Bizarro IQ test… this describes so much of my days with a 4 year old and a 1 year old.

  2. We got Ben’s report card too on Friday. He did not get a 4 either…as I read your post, I so agreed as I had had similar feeling when reading his…and it seems that we also got the hand raising comment..but I realized, it was probably true…I had not thought about sending a portfolio…hmmm…is it possible that our first borns, the ones that we actuallly taught alphabet letters to, taught their colors and counted with them from the time the emerged from the womb, not genius??? I don’t know but my excuse is that he just must be distracted in class and it must be hard for him to do his, “BEST” work….LOL!! Too bad the younger sibling’s hope in our home’s only hope for the covet “4” , is only what letters, colors and numbers his brother teaches him!!

  3. Ha! No I’m not really going to send a portfolio to the conference, but I thought it would be funny if I did. If only the teachers thought our kids were as amazingly gifted as we do 🙂

  4. Oh, Nicola, if I thought you had any spare time, I’d highly recommend you read the book “Guerrilla Learning: How to Give Your Kids a Real Education With or Without School” by Grace Llewellyn and Amy Silver. It talks a lot about how each child develops at his own pace and is usually excited to learn new things when they’re not presented to him with a lot of pressure attached. I really feel for you in the whole Kindergarten experience — it doesn’t sound fun or convenient to me at all!!! = P

  5. We got the report cards this week as well. I received my oldest’s and scanned for the 4’s. I received the next child’s and scanned to make sure there were no 1’s.
    I don’t know what I am going to scan for when the next 2 take the school stage? Blanks and the comment that the parent needs to see the teacher immediately after school.

  6. spanish!!
    tommy cried when he was sick one time and couldn’t go to school because he was so overwhelmed by the homework he’d have when he missed … in KINDERGARTEN! craziness! his first grade experience has been A LOT better! guess it all depends on the teacher!


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