Thursday, May 24, 2012

Kindergarten: A Year in Review

Subtitled: Everything I ever need to know I learned when my child was in Kindergarten.


Y'all. Man. This year, the kid's first in public school, has been a roller coaster. From the trepidation about his switch to public school after our love affair with Montessori. To the first teacher who obviously does not actually like children (or at a minimum mine). From the meetings with the counselor and principal. To the wonderful teacher he had the 2nd half of the year. It's been exhausting. For all of us.

As I think back on my kid's first year at public school, here are a few of the lessons I've learned.

First, I must listen to my gut. I had a bad feeling about Mrs L at Kindergarten night, before school even started. I had a worse feeling about her as the weeks mounted. I am glad I listened to my gut that said she was not working for my son. I am glad that I pushed away the words of people who (admittedly) were trying to be helpful, telling me to ignore my gut. Because it was right.

Second, I am my child's best advocate. If I sit around and wait for things to work out, or for someone else to also see the problem, it will be too late. Or, at a minimum, more damage may be done. There were a lot of meetings, and they weren't particularly comfortable for me to sit through. Certainly not enjoyable. But it is my job as his momma to stand up for him. And, by god, I am proud of myself for doing it.

Third, there is no perfect solution. In hindsight, I wish we'd decided to keep him at the Montessori school for at least this year. However, it would have been hard logistically (the round trip hour trip twice a day, with a toddler), and lets not even mention the cost. On the other hand, it's inevitable that he'd have had to make the move to public school eventually. There is no situation that solves all our issues, meets every single need. All we can do is try to make that which we are left with work as well as possible. I think, by switching to the lovely Mrs M, that did happen.

Fourth, never underestimate the power my child's teacher has to make his life enjoyable and happy, or stressful and miserable. A child's teacher has extraordinary power over him. Mrs L set things up and interacted with the kid in such a way that he responded by feeling incapable - both academically and emotionally. Mrs M, in contrast, reminded my child that he is smart, loving, and good at many things. The smile he comes home with most days and the immense progress he has made in reading make this blatantly obvious to me.

Fifth, change is inevitable. I can hardly express how much we will miss Mrs M next year. I feel like just when we finally feel good about the kid and school, it's done and we're going to have to start all over again next year. We've been able to tell the school our preferences about the kid's teacher for next year, but there's just no telling what it will look like. I'm terrified he'll end up in another bad situation. But I guess that's where I go back to lessons 1-4.

So, as much as things change, the same lessons seem to apply. Here's hoping I don't have to relearn them again. And here's to an awesome summer.

Today's Lesson: While your own kindergartner may be difficult at times, other people's kindergartners are quite lovely. Ages 5 and 6 are really very nice. Especially when they aren't yours and tell you you're pretty, and have sparkly eyes, and a nice voice, and...

6 comments:

Alex said...

Congrats to both you and the kid for making it through kindergarten! I just read through the posts you linked to, and it sounds like a doozy! You are a perfect example of how to be a good advocate for your child - way to go!!!

Elizabeth said...

Oh my. I just read your post about his first teacher- so so sad and it's appalling the way you and your husband were treated at that conference. I am so glad you were able to switch and ended the year on a positive note!

dopingforbaby said...

Mrs L needs to go. I am a teacher and know it is hard to connect with every kid, but for a young child to feel incapable is terrible. Continue to advocate for your child. My best students have engaged parents. Thanks for being part of ICLW.

mommy someday said...

Hooray for the end of kindergarten! As a former first grade teacher I can say first grade is SO much fun! I miss six year olds. :-)

AS said...

Good for you for being an advocate! As a former teacher/administrator, I remember ALL the parents who stepped up for their kids, even if they were a pain at the time. :) Kids with parents who advocate for them are just so blessed.

Amy said...

Thank you for this post. Although it's VERY far away, for some reason the last few days I was reading up on grade schools in our area and feeling really nervous about the thought of the children we HOPE to have someday ever going to public school. Reading your post today felt a little bit like a message from the future...

Thanks for sharing.