Not so great, not so bad.... kindergarten is like a seesaw to me or like the French saying comme ci comme ça. Just when I think something is not so great, it turns out that something else is not so bad and it keeps me content until it's not so great again. I know this, I can't say it's been wonderful...ever, I wish it was but so far it's never been wonderful.
It's a little over halfway through the kindergarten year. Thankfully, things have improved since the drama at the beginning of the year (http://bit.ly/184ah4r). It's still not a perfect situation. Rishi’s favorite classmate, Susie, who also happens to be our neighbor, transferred to a private school a few weeks ago. She is a twin so not only does he miss seeing the girls at the bus stop but also she no longer sits next to him in the cafeteria. Susie's mother and I have had extensive conversations about kindergarten. She loves the teacher but the class is just too big. 26 students is a HUGE number for a kindergarten class. I cannot even understand how the teacher copes...so I started to spend time in the classroom.
I volunteer every Monday morning, purely for selfish reasons I must admit. Watching Rishi in his classroom environment gives me a good sense of how he is faring. It allows me to get to know the other children with whom he interacts daily; and, observe the teacher and her method of instruction. In addition, I eat lunch with him after my 90 minutes is up and I like to observe the social structure in the cafeteria (loud, chaotic, frenzied). My Monday mornings are devoted to understanding how my son spends his school day and to making sure he knows that I am aware of his life even when he is away for eight hours of the day.
It's nice to know the students and teachers he talks about and to engage with him with some knowledge after having been present in his hectic environment. Kindergarten is no day at the beach...was I wrong in presuming it would be more relaxed? There is always a rush to this class and that, rush to the bathroom, rush to the next group, rush through lunch, rush back into line...nothing Zen about the experience that's for sure. I’ve heard from at least two moms about their kids having constipation and gastrointestinal issues and it’s no wonder. The line for the bathrooms is scheduled and rushed. The recent flurry of snow days was nice as was the break over Christmas, I enjoy having him home and if I was more patient, I would consider homeschooling but who am I kidding…that would not work for too many reasons to list.
I was comparing notes with another mom today. Her daughter Bree is at a different elementary school in the same county. Their school appears to have the same frenzied pace with students rushing to lunch, rushing to class, rushing to line-up, etc. Bree is fortunate in that her school has smaller classes, 19 at the most. That is good. However, at her school, parents are not encouraged to be present in the classroom, which is definitely not a good thing…back to the seesaw going down. Bree’s mom and I long for the structure, warmth and efficiency of preschool. I wonder if that atmosphere would be present given a private school setting?
I wish the seesaw was always up...shouldn't kindergarten always be happy and fun especially for a boy who loves to learn? No so much in my experience but again, it's not that bad either. I would be lying if I said my husband and I are in complete unison about school. We don't see eye-to-eye but it's not a daily argument. I understand his viewpoint but I'm not sure I agree. I would love to put Rishi in private school, mostly to have a small class size and consequently more attention. The private school I selected (you know in my mind, following extensive research, if we chose to send him), starts at 8 am and ends at 1 pm. However, my husband feels that we live in a county with excellent schools and we pay taxes so why not take advantage of what is available to us? He also mentioned something about Rishi learning “survival skills.” I’m pretty sure I tuned him out at that point.
Ashoka is also very involved with my son's school life. He walks him to the bus stop every morning and he often picks him up at school. He has called the principal on a couple of occasions (when we heard that class is getting bigger was one) and he is much more friendly with the school staff than I am...social butterfly does not even begin to describe his personality! We both love the fact that Rishi is reading and reading with such joy. I read with him in the mornings and my husband reads to both children before bed. So yes, I would prefer a private school but I'm going to compromise and work with the present situation especially after our pediatrician agreed that public school is the best place for Rishi given the resources available. We asked our pediatrician her opinion since she has known Rishi since the day he was born. She does have a point.
At a recent teacher conference meeting, most parents met with just their teacher. Ashoka and I on the other hand, were ushered into a conference room with the following staff: Vice-principal, occupational therapist, Rishi's teacher and guidance counselor, all of whom where working in conjunction with one another to ensure Rishi's success. My husband felt validated after the meeting and I felt like the school was making every effort possible to understand my son. As a result of the of the meeting: they put a rocking chair at his desk to help him focus as recommended by the occupational therapist; they allowed us to place some Pediasure drinks in the room because lunch at 11:50 is a long time to wait with no snack for Rishi; the guidance counselor met with him and a few other boys to help them socially interact, a group he seems to enjoy mostly because it's only four students. The teacher told us about a few measures she had taken: she changed the classroom recess time for a couple of weeks to allow him to see familiar faces and she brought in some books about ocean life and dinosaurs which made him very happy. She also nominated him for a kindergarten science award, which he was thrilled to receive and it was probably his happiest school day.
However, if you ask him who his favorite teacher is, he’ll say Ms. Betsi. She’s a regular substitute at the school but she has never taught his class. However, she talks to him in the hall and asks him questions. More importantly, she gives him hugs and I have no doubt that those hugs make Rishi’s day so much sweeter. He literally beams when he talks about her. Warm and fuzzy definitely works for Rishi. His current teacher is an excellent instructor but I’m not sure I would describe her as warm and fuzzy.
Yesterday was Monday and I was back in the classroom. I am usually assigned to work with small rotating groups of six but due to the class size, we did not get through all of the groups. Again, a huge class is not so great. But then, Rishi asked me if I was staying for lunch and when I said yes, he told me "don't worry, I'll be fine...you don't have to stay." I was more than little surprised but when I asked again and he said not to stay, I went home. I was still worried until he came home and told me about his day. Lunch is now just routine so no need for me to always stay. Skipping a loud lunch in the cafeteria, not so bad, the seesaw tipped up for me at that point!