Kindergarten Musical Chairs...

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Our son was so so so excited to go to school with his big sister ~

He had volunteered in the classroom with me in the past, & he knew what to expect.

Our district offered free all day kindy this year, as opposed to paying for it like we did just last year with our girl...
But with this change, instead of there being 23 kiddos in the all day class, & the same teacher having the all day kids - there would now be 100+ kids all raring to attend full day kindy.
Instead of one all day teacher, they would make the half day sections full day...bringing it up to 3...
Thankfully, our school added another teacher to make 4 all day sections.

But much to our dismay, we got a letter informing us that we would NOT be assigned kindy teachers until after the 2nd week of school.

Um. Ok?

The letter went on to explain that they wanted the classrooms to have a good balance of
*Social Skills
*Academic Readiness

Ok, this makes sense...
But I still couldn't help but wonder how this would all go down...

**And what are those assessments for that are done before school starts...
if not to figure some of this out? **

And it turned out, D WAS assigned a kindy teacher..
I suppose it was more of a home room if you will.

I am still not exactly sure how this all played out -

I know that he had a super sweet teacher and a class of about 26 kids that he went to each morning...
He had a locker and a place at a table with his name on it...

It's the classroom I left him sitting in, wide eyed, somewhat frightened on that first day...
While I put on my best 'you've got this Buddy!' Mom face, before walking outside and breaking down into tears as I left my baby in SCHOOL!

(How did it get so late so soon!)

Color coded name badges identify the kindy kids, their teachers and
much much more on the backs of these cards...
We spoke at length with other families, friends, neighbors...about this not assigning a teacher business.

Sure, I can see how you would want some input before loading one teacher down with all of any one type of kid. You don't want all the leaders in one class, all the followers in another...or what have you...but I still worried about what this would do to the kids.
Or shall I say, MY KID?

They are so young and vulnerable at this age...
This is their first taste of the school thing...

Over and over I said that this would never have worked for our first born, our anxious, needs to know what's coming, likes to plan ahead, doesn't care for change...first born.

Her brother, far more adventurous, far more go-with-the-flow....
This would be much better for him...

Thank God they weren't doing this to our girl, 
and to ME, as a first time parent trying to navigate the school system.

We will move as few kids as possible, they told us...
We don't want to shake it all up, we just want to do what's best, blah.blah.blah.

When the day came that we knew he would be getting his official kindergarten classroom assignment, 
I patiently waited outside as the kids got off the bus. They were moving as few kids as possible, what were the chances of him actually being moved to a new room anyway?

He was 300 yards away but I saw the glowing yellow name badge around his neck.

I knew that he had been moved...before he could even tell me.

The thing is, he got moved to the teacher that his sister had. 
The teacher we loved and adored.
The teacher he had hoped for, and quite frankly, expected all along.

So what's the big deal?

Well, if you ask our five year old...
Our five year old who frets in the night, and in the mornings before he boards the bus...
He misses his old teacher.
He doesn't have any friends.

They didn't wait the two week period they said they were going to...
But even waiting two days, (they waited 4) in my opinion...
is a lot on these young, impressionable children.

I dropped my kid off and entrusted him to a person whom he knew as his teacher. 
She would be the person he would look to for help, guidance, reassurance.

He was in a classroom with twentysomeoddnumber of other kids all in the exact same boat he was...

But now, now he's been picked up and moved and plopped into a classroom that has already been working together, already finding their rhythm.
Or have they?

Friday was our worst day yet. 
He was so sad to be getting on the bus...
Oh the tears, from one that never gets upset about anything other than losing ~ 
I did my best to hide MY tears...offering to drive him to school and walk him to his classroom.

He declined.
He wanted to be brave and ride the bus.

I've been in touch with his teacher, and she assures me he is doing great ~ 
& I checked in with the principal, who tells me that this went remarkably well for the first year they did it...
I can't help but wonder ~ Did it really?
If the parents had issues, questions, concerns...are they contacting the principal or the school or are they just sitting back and working out their issues on their own?

By the end of the month, it will be like none of this ever happened I'm sure - A friend or two will be made and all will be right with the world ~ but I'm a little bummed out that our boy's first experience with the public school system went like this.

Maybe there'd of been tears even if he hadn't been moved.
Maybe the move was a cover up for the overwhelming craziness that is school but he's communicating it to us this way...

Regardless...we love the 'new' teacher, and we're thrilled to have her again this year.
But it doesn't make 'starting over' any easier on the 5 year old.

I'm curious...Does your school district do anything like this?

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Jen Knox said...

Wow, Darcie....I had no idea this is how they planned to implement all-day K! I think you know that we're one year behind you on this and I wondered how they'd make this transition, but I never imagined that they'd uproot kids and move them around!

191 is an odd district, if you ask me. Sure, my insight into how districts works comes mostly from hearing from friends about how their districts work and my own recollection of the way we did things back when we were in school, but it seems like 191 does things in the most complicated ways. Take boundaries. Our neighborhood where we live is about two boundary chunks away from the actual school the neighborhood kids attend. We won't be here next year when we do K, so it won't matter to us, but it just seems odd to bus kids through another boundary area to get them to the other side where a new boundary starts and have them attend there. Why not the closest school?

Ugh, how hard for your little guy....this seems really misguided if you ask me. My little guy wouldn't have done well with this either. Two days in, he was bonded with his Pre-K teacher and it would have been incredibly hard for him to adjust again. It's so stressful, starting K, in any way, let alone a way that disrupts their flow.

What do the other parents think about this? Mixes reactions?

darcie said...

Hey Jen - thanks for commenting! This was new this year, & I think, based on 'how well it went' it will be what they do going forward. I think it's done at a few schools, but maybe not all?

We didn't love it, & I have yet to talk to any other parents of kids that were actually moved. So far, all of the parents I've talked to have had their kids stay put, and have all been VERY glad that their kids didn't get moved.

Again, we LOVE the teacher that we are placed with, and she has assured us it was all positive reasons for the move ie: he did well on his assessments before school started, so they wanted to group him with other like-minded kids, but that still doesn't make it any easier on a 5 year old who has had his entire world turned upside down with all of the changes that going to all day school brings.

Just another blip on the screen that is the public school system that we as parents have to navigate the best way that we day at a time.

Amelia Sprout said...

We find out teachers two days before school starts. I think they do a little bit to screen them when they show up for registration. The part they don't do yet is moving them around for reading. That won't start until a few weeks from now (I think).
I can see how it would help, and based on our experience this year, he might have had issues no matter what. We had some initial enthusiasm followed by a lot of tears and some issues.
So far I've noticed that they like to give it well over a month for the kids to adjust. Before that they are very forgiving of the hiccups that happen. He will do great.

darcie said...

You may be right - he may have had issues regardless...but he is typically a 'rolls with the punches' kind of kid...and while he was a little on the nervous side the first day of school - he seemed to take right off, until day #4 - when they moved him. Perhaps that's how long it felt for him to come unglued - for lack of a better term? What I do know is, he WILL be fine - and soon, very very soon - this will be like it never ever happened...

Anti-Supermom said...

First off, just let me tell you that you suck... I get a bill for $3700 this year for full-day Kindergarten, that's totally not fair.


But what else isn't fair is moving them around. Kindergarten is *not* the year to not give them stability and routine. I'm crossing my fingers that it's a little better now, and that a few days has helped him (and you) feel better.

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