Thursday, August 19, 2010

School Blues

Today was a big day for our firstborn.
Alex had her first dance class as well as her kindergarten open house.

I was looking forward to both events.
I knew she would love ballet/tap/whatever-it-is-they're-teaching-her-as-long-as-it-doesn't-involve-a-pole, and I was sure that once we visited Alex's classroom I would feel more at ease with our decision to send her off to school.

I was right on one count.

She did love her dance class.
Unfortunately I was in such a rush to get there on time that I didn't get a chance to snap a picture. 

But allow me to assure you that she was as sweet as can be in her leotard and tights, with her hair in a bun. And we were five minutes early.

When we arrived to the studio, it was kind of a cluster. No one appeared to be in charge, and there were too many little girls and moms in too small and hot a space.
Once they got settled in the room things improved.

Apparently parents sticking their faces in the window is a distraction for the class, because they had it blocked off with a large piece of paper.

But I didn't let a silly little thing like that bother me.

I just smooshed my nose right up to the crack in that paper and watched my baby tap-tap-tap and twirl-twirl-twirl.
I feel a stage momma coming out of me.

I just wanted to make sure she was tap-tap-tapping the crap out of those 42 dollar tan Bloch tap shoes.

Oh, and might I also point out that there were a couple of girls in the class with black tap shoes and some with tan shoes that were decidedly not Bloch.
I can only hope this is rectified quickly. May with a public beating, or tar and feathers.
I cannot stand for it. Not one little bit.

Not after I drove through the thunderstorm, risking my life, to be a rule follower.

Let me also tell you that the conversation in the lobby area between the mommas was delightfully full of southernness. I felt a little out of place.
I must work on my drawl.

We then met up with Josh, who was able to join us at Alex's open house.

Folks. (see? I'm trying!)
I'm not sure what to think.

The school is nice. The building is just 10 years old, and it's bright and cheery.
I'd heard great things about Alex's teacher, and she certainly seemed to live up to her reputation.
She has been teaching kindergarten for 20 years, and she and the assistant teacher were very personable and friendly.

However comma.
In her 20 years of teaching, she has never had a class as large as the one Alex is in.
There are twenty-nine children in the class.
2-9. 29.
That's one less than 30. 

And then she shares with us that the kinder-mat we purchased, because it was on the school supply list, was not going to be needed after all.
Because the new principle is doing away with rest time.

Did I mention that the school hours are from 8 to 3:15?
That would be 7 hours and 15 minutes. 

Josh and I are not happy. How can these 5-year-olds go all day with no rest time? And what could be the benefit of not allowing them the break?
The teacher certainly didn't seem thrilled with the new plan, and I don't blame her.
Josh plans to make a call to the principle to make known our concern over this policy change.
(Because he makes all of our uncomfortable phone calls. Because he loves me.)

I don't know what to think. We wavered quite a bit on sending her to school versus homeschooling, and this visit didn't exactly make me feel confident in our decision.

And now I can't sleep.
It's either thinking about all of this school stuff...or maybe it's the diet mountain dew I drank.
Definitely one of those.



Jen McD said...

If you were in Korea she would be on the bus at 7:15 and home by 3:15. No nap. Class size 27.

I think it's pretty standard, but we did raise some drama about the class size. Contact the PTA and find out state regs.

Kindergarden is for the big dogs! I hate it.

Erin said...

I started Marina's K program this week. Her lessons total about 30 minutes right now. I also combine the science & history part with Malachi's, so it will get a little longer once the first week (they slowly ease you into it) is over. Her class size is 2 right now. So, it's either one extreme or the other - right?

Jennifer said...

She will be fine! Kaci's also in a full day program 0800-1500. (We have to pay for it though!) They get quiet time for 15 minutes (I assure you there is no napping done during those 15 minutes). There are 21 kids in her class and no assistant. 21:1. It's going great! I promise!! And the perk is that we've been able to put Kaci to bed 30 minutes earlier every day ;)

Grandma said...

Sounds like the teacher can handle it. Kindergarten kids, even if they are there all day, do not have to sit at a desk from 8:00 to 3:15. There is built in play time, story time, recess, etc. IF the kids are getting too tired, the teacher will know it and adjust. And I'm thinking the principal is getting rid of laying on the floor and pretend to be sleeping time. Have Josh ask her 1. What a day will look like for Alex. 2. What is the replacement going to be for rest time. 3. A copy of the state curriculum for kindergarten/ 4. What is the contractual class size limit for kindergarten. 5. What are the class sizes at the other elementary schools near yours. 6. Is there schools of choice in the district? i.e. If class sizes are smaller at another near-by school, or if they provide rest time at a different school, could Alex enroll there.

Remember, Alex doesn't rest that much anyway and she does love to be around other children and she does love school. Give it a chance. You will know after a week or so if it is for her. She is a sponge and wants to soak up and learn so much.

Call me.

Proverbs 31 Wannabe said...

29 is a big class for kindergarten. In Florida we have a class size amendment that limits primary classes to no more than 18. However, if the teacher has the assistant in there with her all day it probably isn't so bad. As far as the nap goes, unfortunately that is the way things are leaning these days. My kindergarteners don't have a rest time at school either. I do think though that since this is a new thing up there, if you get enough parents to pitch a stink about it to the new principal you might could get her to change her mind. What they do here in public school is have a rest time only during first semester and then they stop after Christms. That seems to at least get them used to the long days gradually.
If you want to sound like a true southerner you have to say "Y'all" a lot and you have to make your inflection almost sound as if you are asking a question even though it was a statement. Even though I've been raised in Florida, Hubby and I were in South Georgia for 6 years, small town U.S.A. I learned to fake it pretty good.
Good luck with all the changes. You can do it!!

Joyce said...

I taught half day kindergarten in a private school. I typically had 12 in my class but no assistant. If my enrollment went to 15 I had an assistant. I did have a parent helper at least twice a week. Kindergarten parents like to help : )

My oldest had half day k and came home every day and napped. My youngest had afternoon k and gave up her nap at 4.

I know pretty much every state is full day k now but I love half day k so much more. I just don't think kids that age need to be in school all day but that is my .02. I'm sure since your teacher is experienced she will go with the ebb and flow of her classroom...if it were me I'd maybe have story time where I let everyone get comfortable on a mat and I'd read aloud. Technically not rest time but restful all the same. She will figure out a way to meet the needs of the students...particularly the first part of the year when they are still adjusting to the long day. I agree with grandma who said to ask what is going to happen in place of rest time. And definitely find out what the state says about class size.

I'm sure your daughter will do great.

Corie said...

Alex will do great. And you are still a bad sister because I have called you like 5 times with no return phone call....at least I have your blog to know you are not dead!! :)

Taylor said...

Oh, darn. First of all, my oldest had a hard time transitioning to even half day kindergarten. I knew this because she would come home and just be an emotional trainwreck. It was delightful. School is a hard decision as parents and I think it always will be. 29 is a big class. Maybe the teacher is planning some quiet time even though there is no specific rest time? But anyways, I always went back and forth between homeschool and public school. We are going to homeschool because of our location now, but it is always a hard decision. I think that you and Josh should pray about it and if you feel strongly about keeping her there, keep her there. See how it goes, give it a month or so, and if it is just awful, then you can go from there. Or, if you want to homeschool, you could try that instead. Whatever decision you make doesn't have to be permanent. That was a revelation to me. Just because I choose public school right now does not mean that is what I have to always do.
I am sorry for the stress and I hope Josh gets some comforting answers when he calls.

Laanykidsmom said...

I am sending my 4th and final child to kindergarten in 10 days. So here's my been-there-done-that advice.
My children go 3 full days a week. I have never heard of a specific rest or nap time, nor have we ever needed a mat. But there is a big couch in the room, and an area rug, and I know they have down time - reading, playing with blocks, legos, etc. I am sure her class will have quiet time like that, and anyway, like another commenter said, no one really naps during kindergarten!
The class size does sound a bit big, although my children go to a Christian school, so our sizes tend to be a bit smaller. I think my son now has 20 in his class. But it does depend on the teacher - and if yours has 20 years of experience, I'm guessing she can handle it. I also agree with what someone else said, that if it really doesn't go well, you can pull her out and homeschool. You're the momma, you will know what is best for your daughter!

Mrs. J said...

It's scary for sure!
1) I like the person's idea about contacting the PTA about class sizes or going online to find out the state regulations. When Chase was in kindergarten he started with 28 in his class and ended with 32. They only had 3 kindergarten classes and 1 assistant was shared between all three. So the fact she has an assistant is great!!!! Chase's teacher counted a lot on parent volunteers. (they finally added a 4th class when Chase hit first grade, but it did take noise from the parents!)
2)If you can work it out with Derek, volunteer once a week, it will make you feels TONS better! The teacher will totally appreciate you and you can "spy" on your daughter:) And you will see how she is doing, chances are, she'll be great! And she will be the popular girl, all the kids LOVE when the parents are there! OR if once a week doesn't work, volunteer for the fun parties! Halloween, Thanksgiving etc! It does a mammas heart good, trust me on this!
3)There is also no rest time in kindergarten in MD & it is a full day program. They replaced rest time with snack time. Some fancy thinking on our teachers part:) She used snack time as a down time, and taught about healthy snacks and recycling, she would collect all the capri sun pouches and at the end of the year they all got pencil cases made out of the pouches. BUT it gave the kids MUCH needed down time!
4)There isn't much I can say to help you sleep! Your oldest is going to kindergarten, regarless of if you LOVED the teacher, the class size was perfect, they had nap time, you would still be feeling this way! Be prepared with no rest time for her to be tired when she gets home, especially the first week, SO be happy for earlier bed times and TOTALLY be prepared for a before dinner snack! Chase is STARVING when he gets home from school, so he gets a snack while he does homework!
5)Be prepared for homework!!!!!!!!!!
6)Have fun! She'll be great! You're a great mamma!
7) Personal opinion here, sounds like you are taking her to & from school, but I am not a fan of the school bus!

Good luck. Will be praying for your heart!

The Mains said...

Ugh! Aching for you over here... and praying!

trooppetrie said...

we homeschool so I can only encourage you there. I have had friends who say they start out having quiet time and then phase it out by the end of the year. i would think they would at least do it at the begining of the year