Kindergarten - The good, the bad, and the ugly...

Well...it finally needed to be discussed. The "K" word. My son has been going to kindergarten for 4 weeks now and I gotta be honest with you, the transition has been tough.

I'm going to break it down into 3 categories: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Let's start with the good:
He wasn't worried at all about starting kindergarten. He happily went to check out the school and meet his new teacher. He's practiced all summer and can do a pretty good job reading and basic addition/subtraction. He got on the bus the first day without a worry.....

There are 2 kindergarten classes. Our teacher has recess twice a week. This has become my son's favorite part of school. According to him, there just isn't enough playing and there is entirely too much sitting.

The other kindergarten teacher does not allow recess at all. She said she believes they need to spend the entire time teaching. They have only a short time at school and she wants them to focus. I used to agree with her 100%, until I had a son. I'm forever glad that I read Bringing Up Boys because I never knew how important being physical was to them. No recess or phys ed has been horrible for boys.

In fact, the boys in my sons class are out of control and are constantly disciplined. Luckily, my son is really great at listening and sitting patiently. Though he may not enjoy it, he's capable of it and has yet to be disciplined for behavior.

I'm feeling super blessed that he was randomly assigned to the pro-recess teacher.

And that's where the good ends. Let's dive into the bad:
It was so sad to see his little face on the bus driving off to do who knows what until the bus drops him back home. I tried not to cry and focused on spending one-on-one time with my daughter.

When he got home from school, he threw himself on the ground outside. He was starving. And this became our first issue. Our school is a snack-free school. The principal made the decision because of the risk of foods from meth houses? Really? Okay, rolling with it. The next day I snuck a snack into his backpack and told him if he got into trouble it was fine with me.

He got into trouble and after discussions with the teacher, we were back to a snack-free existence. We modified our schedule so he ate breakfast 4 minutes before the bus came and I had lunch on the table when he arrived home. This seemed to help. Phew. But then again there is that lull between 6am (when he wakes up!) and 8am when the bus comes.

Now the ugly:
We had to institute a bribery system. He is now required to be cheerful at school and come home in a cheery disposition. If he is cheery each day, he can buy something at the dollar store at the end of the week, or go visit animals at the shelter, or something else he enjoys. So far so good, but do we really have to have a bribe? Unfortunately, yes.

The school sends home at least 30 sheets of paper with forms and fundraisers and other stuff each week. Holy paper overload! I have to read and not lose most of this stuff. Not liking it.

Each day, after showing a cheery face, he complains to me about how much he hates school. Each morning his "tummy hurts" and he just can't imagine going to school again. He says school is boring. There's not enough playing. He's hungry.

This is what he said to me today, "my girl cousins don't have to go to school, why can't I have school at home like they do?" Oh wow. How do you explain that I'm just not as good of a teacher as their mom. That we don't mesh well together as teacher/student, that he needs to have the socializing at school, and that I just need him to make some real effort.

It doesn't seem like the students are learning a whole lot at school, but that's why I teach my kids at home. Our teacher has 24 students and no teachers aides. When I imagine this plus all the stir crazy boys, the kids who miss their parents and cry, bathroom breaks, and everything else, I don't know how the teacher can be expected to do anything.

Yet they need to be good readers by 1st grade. I really hate sending my son there. And just so you know, we have a really good school system. A big part of why we moved was to be in these schools. Our school is good, it just seems like such a zoo! And I hate fighting with my son over why he has to go. I just want him to enjoy it. To make some friends and play. To learn whatever there is to learn in kindergarten and focus on the basics with me at home.

Here's hoping it gets easier....


20 comments:

blueviolet said...

I can't believe that a teacher can make a decision on her own about not having recess. Was she never a parent herself? Kids have got to have some physical activity and break things up a bit.

The poor little dude. Kindergarten shouldn't be so stressful!

Jessica-MomForHim said...

I'm sorry he pulled the homeschool card because of us! I think you're right, he should stick it out and make an effort...however, don't shut out homeschooling as an option forever. I have a friend whose 2nd grade boy was in a great private school and he begged to be homeschooled this year. He is the oldest of 4 and she thought she couldn't do it...but to her credit she is giving it a try. He reminds me a lot of your guy. I'm just saying, you may not think you could do it, but I KNOW you could. There are a variety of curriculums to meet all kinds of teaching/learning styles and needs.

I can't believe the lack of recess. I know these schools need to keep their scores up to keep funding, but that's ridiculous! And I absolutely DISAGREE that time spent outside or in the gym can't be learning time--be creative, people!! That's what our tax dollars pay you for!!

As for the hunger, maybe he needs something that sticks to his bones better for breakfast? Like oatmeal or an omelete or something?

The schools here are good, too, but the class sizes are also large with no aides. I feel bad for the kids and the teachers. It's just stressful for everyone.

Angela said...

He usually eats a big breakfast (lots of protein too). He just has such a high metabolism and needs to eat frequently. But we're managing that part well. :)

For recess, they all just play on the playground equipment while the teacher sits by the door. Lots of learning. lol But it's so good for them to run and play together.

Helen McGinn said...

I'm so sorry to hear that. The snack thing would have been a major issue for my kids; have you thought about suggesting the school providing fruit, possibly donated by a local store? It never hurts to ask and then all the kids get some, there would be no preparation and free advertising for the store. If not, then you say you are managing that ok so that is good.

The break issue is crazy; I just can't get my head round not letting the kids run around, even for 10 minutes. It would help everyone. I guess you just have to go with it although I can't see any harm in bringing it up in a really positive way; don't know how conducive your head is to wee chats, right enough... ;O) May not go down well!

He will settle in though; he sounds like a great kid who will fit right in there and get used to the system in no time. I'd say, for some of my kids,it took them until after Christmas to truly settle but once they did, they really did! (The system over here in Scotland is different though; they go to nursery, pre-school and then primary 1 at aged five and that is when the school work starts).

I wish you and him all the very best and I'm sure it will all work out (although I read that book about boys too; I thought about holding my lad back but he has a twin sis and I couldn't do it). xx

Coupon Teacher said...

First of all, let me say I am SORRY!

Next, what is the school and teacher thinking not allowing snacks and recess??!?! Research shows both help students learn better.

Contact your state and national representatives. They are the ones who make laws about curriculum. The boring and dull day are probably a result of the pressure the teacher feels because of the testing and curriculum program (I can attest to that!)

Finally, please, please, please don't only give your son "things" as a behavior incentive. Things are great sometimes. Time with parents and compliments help build a child's self esteem and help them to become more self-motivated to do well.

P.S. I am not a parent, so you don't have to listen to my advice, but I am a teacher, and I am more than willing to answer any questions you have. (email me if you want!)

Leigh said...

I have a very active 1st grad boy who also struggled with the confines of Kindergarten. Thankfully they had recess everyday for 15 minutes followed by a small snack. This helped him get the wiggles out and keep his energy up for the day.

For a principal to ban ALL snacks because someone might be living in a meth house is insane! I would suggest giving him/her a copy of "Free Range Kids" by Lenore Skenazy. It is a great book (and website) that talks about how sheltered our kids have become because of our unfounded fears of what "might" happen. If students at the school are living in meth houses the principal has more to worry about than if they happen to bring a snack or not.

Angela said...

Coupon Teacher - Thanks for your comment. I hate the bribing part. We've been trying to use other rewards like: visiting the humane society, bike riding with mom, playing a game of his choice with mom, things like that too. He does prefer things, so it's a hard habit to break. Thanks for the reminder!

HeartNiki said...

I would definitely contact some one about no snacks or recess. We moved to where the best schools are in our area too and my daughter is hungry, exhausted, and has a melt down almost every day after school. I have a drink and snack waiting in the car when I pick her up now and give her a bath as soon as we get home to calm her down and get her feeling refreshed. I save her homework now for after dinner, so she can concentrate easier. Hope things get better for your little guy!

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Diane said...

Ummm...crazy! No snack and no recess for little kids. My son just started middle school (11 years old) and he is upset this is the first year with no snack time and no recess. Up until now they had morning snack and a recess after lunch. Kids need to move around especially at your son's age. Good luck and hugs!

Jen from 'Moore' Than A Mom said...

Wow you have gotten a lot of great advice! I just wanted to remind everyone that you can move to a great district, but have a bad teacher and vice versa. Some of the best teachers I know are teaching in some of the worst districts in our area. I think you are doing the right things, and eventually once it becomes routine you will be able to phase out the 'things'! Good luck!

Veronica said...

my kids bring their own snack to school each day for snack time. There is no sharing or community snack. Also recess is mandatory at their age. They learn socialization with other students and how to manage different scenarios, both physically and psychologically. I would suggest bringing the concern up with your principal and perhaps see if other parents could get on board with you.

A Fist Full of Dandelions said...

Wow! If it were me, I think I would be looking for an alternative school for my kid to attend. It doesn't sound like the school your son is at is being age appropriate for kids his age. I'm soo sorry for him.

Shawna said...

Hi Angela! Have you considered holding off Kindergarten 1 year. Kids DO need to play, your son knows what he needs. My son is a May baby and I'm not sure that I will send him to Kindergarten at 5yrs. We'll wait and see.....Just keep in mind that you know what is right for your child. He could do 4 or 5 day pre-school until next year.....

Anne - mommyhastowork said...

It usally gets better over time, but so hard in the meantime. Maybe you could volunteer at the school, that may help, though with my son he would cry when I left, so maybe not. :)
I don't understand the no snacking?

Anonymous said...

Hi Angela,
I never post on blogs, but I have enjoyed reading yours for a few months now and wanted to pose a thought- are there any Montessori schools near you? Having been a 6th grade teacher for years, I saw firsthand how difficult it was for the boys- sitting for long periods and essentially cooped up. They were like wild animals at recess, their energy was so palpable. I love public schools and there are some AWESOME teachers out there, but the limits come with the set up of public schools- sitting for long periods, listening and listening some more to the teacher. Limited time for exploration of concepts and hands on absorption of concepts.
My boys are in a local Montessori and I couldn't be more pleased. They are able to gain the knowledge from the teacher's presentations and then apply it with hands on learning. No long time sitting and mentally wandering off.
I am a big advocate for Montessori and just thought I would suggest this as a potential alternative. I think homeschool is a fabulous option IF it fits your family, but like you, I know what would fit best with my children and I am not the best fit as their teacher. So, just an idea.
In any event, best wishes to you and your family. From reading your blog, I know you are an awesome mom!!!

Geezees Geezees Custom Canvas Art said...

Who would have thought kindergarten would be so much work...it wasn't like that when we were kids.

Simple Saving Savvy said...

I am amazed at this post! Recess at the teachers discretion...and then only twice a week? No snacks? Children need snacks. Even when my children were at home, we had breakfast, mid-morning snack and they still ate all their lunch...then afternoon snack and dinner. You mention all the unruly boys and the discipline issues...I think the school would be pleasantly surprised to see this issue diminish if they allowed for energy release. Hang in there!

Anonymous said...

Angela,
I'm feleing some of this with you...my boy will be 5 in April and is in preschool now: MWF 10am-12pm. He HATES it. AND they get free play and music and a story and a snack! What will I do with him next year? OH-and he cries every school morning, too-the only kid in the class!! The other 13 LOVE to be there-even my 2 yr old wants to stay, but not my boy who "just wants to be with his mom..." sigh. It's stressful-hope you're doing well and finding your groove with it!

savvy squirrel said...

Angela,
I had the exact same problem with my son this year in Kindergarden. It is heartbreaking to know that your child is not having a good time at school. My son did two years of pre-school and loved it. He couldnt wait to start kindergarden. Then he started and hated it. He didnt want to go and wanted me to stay with him when I dropped him off. He would be in tears when I left him. After about 4 weeks of this I knew something was wrong. I asked the teacher if I could sit in on her class to see what was going on. I also made an effort to talk to the other parents. Come to find out it was the teacher. I told one of the other parent that I wouldnt want to be a student in her class. I will put it to you this way she was not meant to be a kindergarden teacher. (Keep in mind this was a private christian school)
After seeing how the classroom structure was I decided to go for some advice and not jump to conclutions. I called my sons former pre-school teacher who has her masters in early childhood development and who had worked with Kody the past two years. She began to tell me what a kindergarden class should be like and what to expect. She recomended that I observe other kindergarden classes in the area to see how they are stuctured and compare them. (I had no idea what they should be like these days Kody is my first child in school so far. I remember what it was like for me 25years ago but I know lots of things have changed since then)
I observed other classes in the area and found out the class Kody was in was not at all like the other ones I observed. I knew he would be happier in another situation. (We have open school districts in our area so you can choose where they go as long as you transport them.)
I made the decision after consulting with my pediatrition to pull him from the school and enroll him in a new school. At this age school should be fun! They learn more when it is fun and interactive.they have the rest of thier adulthood to worry about real stuff why stress them out at a young age? They will also have to do school for 12 more years after this why put a bad taste in thier mouth now? My son has been at his new school for 2 weeks now and loves it!
I would reccomend you volunteer that way you know first had what is going on and maybe have a better idea why he isnt liking it and start meeting some of the other parents. Chances are your son isnt the only one not liking it. Good Luck!

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Thank you for your comments! I appreciate all your tips, advice, and well wishes!

Angela

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