Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Kindergarten time

I spent much of the morning at Kindergarten. Honolulu follows a "year-round" schedule, so today was the first day. All that B did was take a 30 minute sort of test so that they can place him in one of the two kindergarten classes. He will attend either Thursday or Friday, depending on the placement, and then start every day on Monday.

Kindergarten is stressful for children, but it's stressful for parents, too. He's been at day care and then pre-school since he was 1 and a half, so we are used to him being under another's care for much of the day. However, after two years at pre-school, one builds up confidence in the school, or at least they are a known commodity who seems to do no harm, but now you have to switch and you wonder, "is this place going to be good for him? Do they know what they are doing?"

It's our first entrance into a mass educational system. His school was just by itself. His daycare was just the one care-giver and her 6 infants. But here you spend half an hour signing forms for lunch, for the library, for medical care, for attendance, and more. Only some of the documents are specific to school and some aren't even specific to Hawaii, just something some bureaucracy somewhere in the world spit out.

And you read the pamphlet about standard-based curriculum and wonder, "are they actually going to teach my son as a unique human being, or just push everyone to meet the 3rd grade test written by a committee in D.C.? Which is more important? The child or the curriculum?"

But the teacher who spoke to me seemed nice. And as we left, B was jumping and singing, "I'm so happy, I'm so happy," which is a little bit from Boowa and Kwala.

He's probably going to have an easier time adjusting than me.

8 comments:

Robin S. said...

Good luck with the unique human being thing. Honestly. That's golden when you find it.

writtenwyrdd said...

Two intelligent parents can surely compensate for an educational system driven to get kids to pass tests. It's from you two he'll learn to love reading, learning and critical thinking, not from school.

pjd said...

I have many teachers in my family (including my wife), and not a one of them thinks No Child Left Behind is good for children.

In my experience, with the rare exception, teachers are wonderful, kind, caring people who really really really really want the kids to succeed and want to help them along their education. But teaching is also a wicked hard job, especially with 32 kids ranging in ability from mainstreamed marginal to so supersmart their parents insist on specialized double homework from customized workbooks.

Standardized testing leads to standardized children, and unfortunately we've set the standards to the lowest common denominator. At the same time, standardized testing as the only real measure of success leads to marginalization and eventual elimination of things like arts, music, drama, and creative writing.

But teachers, by and large, are the light of hope in this whole mess. Too many politicians and administrators blame teachers for low test scores when teachers (a) are told to get high test scores but don't you dare teach to the test, (b) are rarely given appropriate resources, (c) often are faced with 30-to-1 ratios or worse, (d) frequently have parents who couldn't give a shit, and (e) work exceptionally hard and long hours for subpar wages.

But your kid... your kid will be just fine, even if he runs into the occasional bozo teacher from idiotsville. Another thing I've come to believe is that a kid's success in school is essentially a product of their home life.

So, suffer the forms and the bureaucracy. But try to be involved in the school, at least somewhat. And definitely stay active and interested in B's homework, projects, friends, and interests outside school. Do that, and he'll be top of the charts his whole life. I don't pretend to actually know much about you personally, but from what I've seen, B is well positioned for success.

Precie said...

Hugs and lots of luck to B! I hope he loves it!

(I'm fast approaching that New Era with Child, and I'm soooo anxious about it.)

Now get back to writing your essay.

Robin S. said...

Standardized testing leads to standardized children, and unfortunately we've set the standards to the lowest common denominator. At the same time, standardized testing as the only real measure of success leads to marginalization and eventual elimination of things like arts, music, drama, and creative writing.

Pete, I absolutely agree with you.

My youngest, in pre-AP English,
10th grade, read ONE piece of literature all year. ONE. The rest - PC crappola. The teacher pronounced Penelope PIN-a-lope, by the way, and has a Master's. We're in Northern Virginia, the home of dumbing down and keeping all children at all levels together - which I think is a beyond stupid idea. It helps no one.

The only reason my children have what they have, intellectually or any other way, is that we travel a lot, I'm, frankly, well read and books are a part of our lives, we do a lot of critical thinking in this household, the girls have always taken art classes and yoga classes and horsebackriding classes and they've camped out even when they hated it, and on and on. And I spent the money on private schoools, Montessori academies, wonderful places to learn, when they were young - places where motivated, caring teachers were given the freedom to teach, thank God.

The high school system in Fairfax County, VA, SUCKS. Even the teachers know it.

McKoala said...

Different point of view here. As long as he's happy. Honestly I've found that to be the most important thing, from bitter experience. If not, then they simply don't learn, however good the teaching.

Is it just me, or are you posting more than usual at the moment? Does the word 'procrastination' sound familiar?

ChrisEldin said...

Great discussion. I agree with WW: Two intelligent parents can surely compensate for an educational system driven to get kids to pass tests.

And everything PJD said--teachers are sooo overworked (I am a certified teacher. Even though I don't teach, I was a student teacher a long time ago and boy teachers deserve a lot more credit)

What Mckoala said---if they're happy and secure, they'll do well in any environment.

So a little paca is making his/her way into the world. Too cute!!
:-)

sylvia said...

PJD's comments are great.

My son is 14 and doing very badly in school now. I am trying to work out what would motivate him (nothing worked with me - I walked out of school at 16) although when he has an excited teacher I have to say it really shows.

He does sound like he's a lot less stressed than you are. :)

What's the year-round schedule then, how does it work? Lots of short breaks?