Mom’s getting schooled (SKL)

PreschoolWith my 2 daughters rounding age 3, they are now “preschoolers.”  This fall, they transitioned from a nanny’s care to a well-regarded preschool/daycare near my home.  I was pretty excited by many good things about the school – the academic focus, the extracurriculars, etc., etc., all at a reasonable price.  So far so good.

I am not a “young” mom, and I have a fair amount of previous experience with kids.  Yet raising my girls has brought plenty of challenges and even a couple of surprises.  The beginning of “school” has brought both.

First, the frustrating gap between what I see in my kids and what the school sees.  My kids’ first progress report says, for example, that neither of my kids is able to jump, kick, throw, etc.  It says my youngest cannot run, and that my oldest doesn’t speak in sentences and doesn’t know big from little.  Folks, I’m not one to exaggerate about my kids, but honest, they are mobile!  They have basic vocabulary!  I don’t fault the teachers – obviously my kids are holding back at school – but I feel protective.  I don’t want people thinking they are less capable, especially if that could impact educational decisions.  Ya know?

Second, the business practices of the school.  They make up the rules as they go – and you had better have ESP, because the only time they tell you the “rules” is after you’ve broken them.  You paid for the whole week, but you weren’t signed in by 9am (because you met us offsite for the field trip)?  Then your kids aren’t allowed into the building for the rest of the day.  What?  I never would have agreed to that!  How can you do that?  We just did it, that’s how.

Third, the “bad” reports.  Reports about my perfect children!  Imagine!  On Tuesday morning after saying goodbye to my kids, I’m told that on Monday, “someone” was “trying to do something” to my eldest, and she “tried to bite” that unnamed individual.  Now, my kids are not biters, but you know they get all kinds of new ideas at school, so who knows?  But “tried to bite”?  In retaliation for “something”?  “Yesterday”?  What am I supposed to do about this?  Why are you even telling me this?*

And finally on Tuesday evening, the ominous handwritten note.  “Younger daughter is refusing to practice the Christmas songs.”  Again, what do you want me to do about this?  Beat her?  Come to the school and force her to act out the motions?  Send her to bed without supper unless and until she sings the Santa Song??  Would it be too evil to admit that I don’t CARE if my child sings in the Christmas program?

Never mind the constant germs, lice alerts, lost hair accessories, unauthorized candy distribution, and other minor details that I expected to encounter along our daycare journey.

After my first parent-teacher conference, I felt so defensive on my kids’ behalf, and so crappy in general, and I wondered how my mom lived through this with her six kids.  Now, a few weeks later, I’m getting resigned to the fact that parenting a “school” child is just going to be like this.  I will do my best to grin and bear it.  It does help that so many other moms have been quick to commiserate with me.

Experienced moms, do you have any brilliant tips for my future adventures with “school”?

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9 Responses to Mom’s getting schooled (SKL)

  1. Sue says:

    Nope because I know exactly how you feel. When the schools says they’re not doing xyz in school, but you can watch them do it at home is so frustrating! Then, you tell school that your child can in fact do xyz and they look at you like you’re nuts! It’s hard 😦 The only thing I can tell you is to take things with a grain of salt and breathe before you react!

  2. SKL says:

    Today the teacher reported that my kid gave her an evil look. (My kid loves to make different facial expressions, usually mirroring back the look an adult has given her – and it’s all in fun.) Can you just see my kid getting kicked out of preschool for making a face? Or does the teacher envision me sitting her down in the evening for a chat about permissible expressions at daycare?

    Come to think of it, this could all be pretty funny if it were spun the right way in a sitcom.

  3. Tasneem R says:

    I’m single at the moment and don’t know much about about kids and school for that matter…All I can say after reading your post is that your doing just fine . Kids are one of a kind and let the school make fuss about anything , as long as you know that it’s not something so serious. Happy parenting !

    Ever wondered what kind of a parent you are? Take this quiz to find out your parenting style.

  4. Laura says:

    Well, having a “spirited” kid myself, I’m now a 3-year veteran of the school system. And things seem to have settled for the moment, knock wood.

    I think you are looking at a teacher who is getting a lot of crap from all around her.

    The things that are happening, from the abrupt rule/time change, to the progress reports (“Sally can’t run”), to the behavior reports, all sound to me like a teacher who is worrying way too much about what everyone else thinks, as well as the ridiculous number of rules and standards that are imposed on our children, and not enough about the actual children and the way they each develop skills at different rates.

    When Josh started 4yo preschool, he knew his colors, his alphabet, and could count to 50. He also knew his address and phone number, but was shy about saying them. And he could sign the alphabet, as well as several other words. But he was not developed in the “gross and fine motor skills” that teachers are instructed to look for. So this meant that, even though the kid had mad academic skilz, he was “failing” because he tripped over his own feet and had difficulty cutting a straight line. Why? Because he’s clumsy, and we never do crafts at home! He hadn’t practiced cutting. We had, however, done a lot of reading and talking and communicating, so that’s what he knew. By the end of 4yo preschool, he was reading, which opened up a whole other can of worms for Kg, but that’s not for now.

    So my advice would be to 1. go to the teacher first, then the board (if you must) on the rule thing. If this is, indeed, a new rule, then you’re right, they should have notified people about it. And this must be done going forward. It may seem like it, but preschool is NOT Animal House, and there should be no ‘double-secret probation’. 2. sit with the teacher outside of the time-constraint of the conference, and find out if there *really* is a problem, or if this is just a tick-mark on some list published by the state board of education. If it is a problem, you two can work together to find a solution. If it’s a tick-mark, make her understand that these girls are THREE, and they develop differently, regardless what the State says. 3. Tell her to get over herself. An “evil” look? Really?

    And finally, and perhaps most important… you may have to start researching a new location. Because no matter how highly regarded or rated, sometimes it’s just not a good fit. This is what I ran into for Josh. I had three choices of Kindergarten. Two publics and one Catholic. People raved about one of the public schools, so I applied for open enrollment and took him to Round Up. I was APPALLED at the way he was treated. Then I took him to the Catholic school where the teacher giggled and made him laugh.

    Guess where he goes to school? And he’s doing great.

  5. Lucy says:

    I’ ve worked at a highly regarded pre-school and have extensively studied child care. Although your school might be highly regarded, it seems to me that its lacking in dealing with children’s social behavior. Yes, they should tell you that your child tried to bite another child, but it should be THEIR problem to deal with in the classroom (especially since I doubt you have that problem at home). They should be talking to the children about dealing with their emotions and what acceptable ways they can deal with them (biting does not fall into that category). Many children have not had a lot of experience with spending so much time with lots of children and it can be difficult to navigate all the different issues that come up. The teacher should be anticipating certain problems and helping children navigate the day to day issues, arguments, and disagreements that come up.

    Preschool teachers are often training to look out for “red flag” …e.g. children that don’t/can’t run, children that don’t/can’t ride a tricycle. However, I think its important that teachers distinguish between can’t and won’t. You daughter just might not be interested in the type of running play that other children are engaging in. It doesnt mean she can’t do it….

    My suggestion is to be an advocate for your children and be involved. For instance, if the teacher tells you your daughter tried to bite someone, ask her how they dealt with it. If I were you, I would tell the teacher that its ok if my child doesn’t participate in the x-mas songs, as long as he/she is not disrupting the class. Children are often shy and just want to observe for a while rather than participating. That should be ok!

    This is just my personal opinion .. use any part thats useful to you 🙂

  6. nikki says:

    I started having this same problem with my son in 1st grade. I know the age difference is quite substantial. He wasn’t doing the things in school that I knew he could do. He was doing all these things at home. The bottom line for both of us was he should be doing what he is capable of doing whatever the situation or enviroment is. Frustrating for me as a parent and I knew it was concerning her and I did appreciate her concern. About the only thing that worked for both his teacher and I was simply positive re-enforcement. Hard work on both of our parts. He needed that extra boost to his confidence I think. That’s all you can do is encourage and be positive which I know you are.Your girls will be great, I know this!! They are young…still learning who they can trust and feel comfortable with. I wouldn’t worry too much about it…they’re only 3. 🙂

  7. SKL says:

    It’s funny about the physical stuff, because my older daughter is exceptionally athletic. When they started telling me her strengths were weaknesses, it really set a bad tone for the whole discussion. Again, I’m not blaming anyone, just stating a fact. It was yucky.

    I feel a little defensive for my elder daughter anyway, because she has some challenges that some folks might not understand. I was prepared to talk about those areas, not those plus everything else . . . . But I should note that both girls were given very good marks in some areas, so it wasn’t all bad.

  8. Joy says:

    There will always be the good and the bad that our kids do. We are all better at some things than others. I’m not really sure why teachers feel the need to tell you every little thing when there is nothing you can do about it. You really have to pick your battles with kids and if something isn’t really an issue, if someone is just “talking” or “making conversation,” talk about the weather because we parents tend to want to “fix” everything even though it’s not that big of a big deal. When it’s brought to your attention, it seems like a big deal or a problem. Does that make sense? I remember Toby had this teacher in 5th grade and she felt the need to tell me EVERYTHING he did from morning till afternoon. Good AND bad. I’m sure it was because I worked there and she saw me but one day she started telling me that he was running in the hall and I asked her if she called Pat’s mom and told her when he ran. She looked at me with a blank look. I made it a point from then on to avoid her. It could be because some of these people are trying to make conversation.

    I think you are doing great. You’re new at this stuff. I guess as a parent, we have to have thicker skin but I still hate it when someone says something “off color” about either of my boys. It stings. I think with kids, like Nikki said it’s about praising when they do well and work on what needs work on without making a huge deal out of it. Kids will do things when they’re ready and not one minute before. You can’t “make” anyone do anything and I think it makes matters worse. If she doesn’t want to sing, I wouldn’t’ make her sing but I would make her stand with her classmates if this is to be a concert of some kind. When she’s ready to sing about Santa, she will.

  9. javajunkee says:

    homeschool!! We bypassed parent teacher talks, lice, outbreaks of other funky diseases…etc and so on! 🙂

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