Kindergarten verdict after a first shadow day

standard February 25, 2010 7 responses

Back in September I started to agonize about the Kindergarten situation for C. Then M and I did a bunch of research and we visited two schools. One, a public magnet school, the other a private Montessori program. I ranted about how hard it was to pick between the two over on Silicon Valley Moms blog. (Sorry. Totally forgot to link to that.. Oops. Better late than never and all that.)

The short of it is that the public school program gave me lots of warm fuzzies, but their lack of funding and resources really worries us. Plus the parental participation requirements are astronomical and the odds of getting in are slim. The private school is small, good, has every resource that the public school doesn’t, and we can get in. But I didn’t get any warm fuzzies from it.

But I’m not the one going to Kindergarten. C is. Luckily the private school requires two shadow days as part of their registration process. Wisely I decided to set aside my reservations long enough to see what she thought about the place.

The first shadow day was today.

It didn’t go very well.

She was very excited to go, almost bouncing her way in through the front gate. She even went off with the teacher without a backwards glance. But when I picked her up she wasn’t as cheerful as I hoped.

Turns out she was teamed up with a ‘partner,’ a mentor of sorts, and the girl was… let’s say… pushy.

As we walked back to the car C told me in a quiet voice that she was a bit nervous about going back in the morning. The girl had spent the day telling her what to do, where to go, when to do stuff. She stressed her out about how long she was taking to eat her snack, and I get the feeling that she didn’t give her a lot of space to explore the classroom.

Ironic given that it’s a Montessori program.

C is a ruler follower. The teacher told her to stay close to her partner so she did, even though she spotted another girl she liked much more, even though she wanted to check stuff out on her own, even though the girl was making her very uncomfortable.

While I’ve always sworn that I’d let my kids fight their own battles and wouldn’t intervene if at all possible, as soon as I dropped her off at daycare I called the school’s office and asked that she be paired up with another child tomorrow. I hate being that mom, the one who calls and complains every time a child looks at her precious baby crosseyed. I want my kids to learn how to deal with bullies, to figure out how to make a friendship work. I want them to know how to stand on their own two feet without relying on me to fight their battles.

But she has 6 hours to fall in love with this school, and three of them were less than positive. She doesn’t have time to turn this relationship around. So I made the call. Tomorrow she’ll have another partner.

Sadly, by the time I picked her up from daycare tonight she had decided that she didn’t want to go back. Not even after I promised that she’d have a different partner. It took a while for her to explain, but she’d rather have no partner at all. She just wants to explore the place on her own, no pressures, no bossy girls telling her what to do, just a little girl finding her own footing.

I just hope I have a moment to explain that to the people at the school tomorrow and that they’re willing to listen.

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7 responses

  • Wow. That’s tough. Do you know if they have a summer camp/fun summer school program? One of mine was rather apprehensive about kindergarten, and luckily they had a summer program. A few days of that and she was hooked.

  • Since Illinois is second to California is budget issues, I would guess the lack of funding there is similar to here. As a teacher, I don’t believe that will impact your girl as much as you think.

    If that’s the school that gives you the warm fuzzies, and she got the cold pricklies yesterday at the other school, it sounds like the public school, for that first year, is the choice to make.

    Go with HER gut (and your 50% chance)at least for now.

    Just curious, what’s the actual stat for the insane number of parental help hours?

  • I hope so too. And, calling the school to ask, respectfully, that something small changes so that your daughter can enjoy the experience isn’t being “that mom.” I absolutely promise you.

  • Wow, what a tough decision. When choosing a school for my son, I researched and visited many schools and although I heard a lot of good things about Montessori, it 100% was not for us. The kids at 2 montessori’s we visited were not nice nor happy…we ended up at a wonderful Independent school. It was more than 100% perfect for him. The kids were happy, kind, having fun exploring their world. Parents could be involved as much or as little as you want. They have all the arts, language, PE, etc. I think maybe you should keep looking for a school that is right for your family. I’m sure it’s out there! Good luck. Above all trust your instincts.

  • Picking a school for your kid is really tough. I understand that parents should consider the pros and cons, but of course we’d rather get and look for the ones with more pros right?

    Hope everything turns out well!

  • Wow. I don’t have children and I can’t imagine experiencing that. But your little girl sounds really smart. I don’t imagine that every kindergartener can even explain why she didn’t like her partner. Maybe it’s not too late to get into that magnet school … if you can get in. Best of luck to you.

  • My heart is just breaking! I’m still pondering between two schools and I don’t even know if they do a shadow thing like that.. good luck with everything.

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