Friday, September 9, 2011
Alright. We're officially three weeks into school here. Cash got in to the charter school at the Miami Children's Museum. Big hooray, since I'd been hoping for years he would get in there and it was all up to a lottery. We knew people who didn't get in. We were lucky. And it is close. Very close. No more driving 25 minutes to school. It's unique. I'm pretty sure my kids will never get to go to school in a children's museum again, so that was a big plus. And it has more than 0 white kids, unlike our local "F" rated school that we're zoned for.
Wow, what happened to the good ol' school days like we used to have? Cash had 20-something pages of homework this week in addition to the 30 minute reading log he has to fill out every day. Now, I'm all for reading, don't get me wrong. But I just have such little down time with my kids - by the time we get back from school, get the baby fed and down for a nap, do his reading and homework... it's time to make dinner, then baths and bed. I mean, really? Is it not fathomable that perhaps I would like to do something with my 5 year-old other than sitting at a table being his task-master while he traces the letter C fifty times? Perhaps you don't realize my child has more important things to be doing at this age, like running around outside or playing pretend or jumping on the couch with his brothers. I mean, I really can't imagine that 6.5 hours of school a day (kindergarten is full-day here) isn't enough to learn whatever the requirements are by the time he finishes kindergarten. I had half day kindergarten and no homework. And I remember a big play-house in our kindergarten room. My husband didn't even know his alphabet when he started kindergarten and he's a doctor. Unless kids these days are going to be building rocket ships by the time they graduate high school I just don't see why it's necessary.
I will say some of it is just the flavor of parents down here. Maybe the Latin influence. These parents are kind of intense. (The teacher seems a little intense too. I asked Cash one day if his teacher smiles and he had to think about it. ".....No.....well, maybe sometimes.") Anyhow, I overhear the parents here bombarding the teacher with the pettiest little things. Even if they are stay-at-home parents, their kids have been in "school" since they were two. Last year the Pre-K teacher said we had no idea how many parents ask for homework (yeah, point 'em out to me and I'll take care of that).... Anyhow it's silly to me. If my kid fails kindergarten because he didn't do his homework you can totally blame his mother. The other night when it was time for bed and we hadn't done his reading because we'd been out I just said forget it. I am not keeping you up for homework when you are five years old.
Actually, the teacher's introduction to the homework on the back-to-school night was as amusing as anything. She starts off giving this big speech about "Here at the Children's Museum we are going green." She even uses the word "paperless" and then proceeds to tell us how we will be uploading the homework at home. I start thinking, "Wow, uploading? Really? Like scanning it in or what?" Then I listen further and realize, oh, no, she means downloading. She says, "Every week you will have to go on our website and print the homework off at home for your child to do and then bring it to school to turn in the following Monday." At this point I almost laugh out loud - then I look around at all the other intently-listening parents and I'm like, wait...are you buying this??? I so wanted to raise my hand and say, "Right, but that's not really going green, now is it - since we're still using paper?? That's just a covert way of saying we're not going to be using your paper - we're going to be using my paper at my printing expense." I seriously wanted to laugh so hard that they were trying to pass it off in the name of "going green!!!" and that everyone else was just nodding their heads feeling so proud that they were going to be teaching their children the importance of being conservation-minded. And they're telling me this just after I had to bring in three reams of copy paper for the school supply list. (Which brings me to another whatever-happened-to-the-way-things-used-to-be? When did parents have to start supplying everything from lysol and kleenexes to reams and reams of copy paper for the school? I guess it's just because there's not enough money in education? I certainly never did that when I was in school. Caught us off-guard as first time school parents. I would so rather pay a supply fee and have them get exactly what it is they want than have hundreds of parents all running around fighting each other in the store for the last "yellow folder with claps" and "blue plastic folder with pockets" or having to buy "kindergarten paper - found in educational stores." Why do I have to hunt down an educational store to go buy one item?)
Anyhow, back to the good things, Cash is a stellar student. Shy, but stellar. He says he's "too scared" to play with anyone at recess, but he's gotten on the good list of the few students that have gotten to go out to the museum to play every week. And he never gets moved down on the behavior chart. He seems to enjoy it, which is great. We get to hang out at the museum after we pick him up which is at least a nice way for him to blow off some steam after school. So 2 or 3 times a week we stay after school and the kids have a great time playing around.
Our museum visits are also increased because of the pick up situation. This also boggles my mind a little. I seem to remember the school bell ringing and everyone just running hog-wild to get out of the building. Now I have to potentially sign in two different places to be able to get my child from school at the end of the day. Because it's a museum and not originally designed as a school, there's not a great drive through area. The parking lot isn't even paved, it's dirt. And if it's a rainy day, you have to go all the way inside to pick up your child. Right, so instead of one kid getting wet, I have to get all four wet... and 4-wheel through the muddy/grassy/weedy parking lot with a stroller. And it's not like I just walk in the door. I have to enter the museum and sign in that I'm going to the school. Then go all the way to the back of the museum into the school area, wait for the tiniest little elevator with every other parent trying to pick up their K-5th grade students, go up to the second floor, and then maneuver my stroller through the tiny and overcrowded upstairs where the classrooms are, where I will again sign out my child and possibly even show ID. Talk about inconvenient. So my question is - is it just like this everywhere now? Is that how the world is? Or is this place as weird as I think it is? Miami is not really known for efficiency or running things in a manner most would deem sensible, but maybe the whole world is getting frisked and finger-printed to get their children from school and I was just oblivious.
Anyhow, overall successful. Not the most convenient - especially since in Miami at 3pm during hurricane season it is apparently raining more often than not. But having to get everyone out of the car go in and pick him up all the time means we're already in there so they might as well run around and play. And keep the mess out of my house.