Friday, September 9, 2011

Kindergarten


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.

BUT.

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.

14 comments:

Corinne said...

Um, nope. That's not normal. I LOVE that he is going to a school in a museum! Fantastic. We do not, however, have to do all that sign in stuff if it's just the beginning of the school day. And when school's over, people do just leave :)

Also, that is A LOT of homework. A lot. Last year Preston had maybe five or ten minutes total and then we read a book together. The end. If anyone had wanted more out of him than that I would've said No Thank You, he is going to play with toys now :)

Jess said...

Not normal! At my daughter's school just outside of Milwaukee, the kindergarteners line up against the wall outside. They do try to make sure they see the parent before they release them from the wall...
Now, in 1st grade, she comes running to me the second she sees me and her teacher may acknowledge me.
She barely ever had homework in kindergarten and right now in 1st grade her homework has been a worksheet a night.
It breaks my heart how hard they have these kids working at such young ages. What is so awful about letting them be kids and play? Isn't that what their job is at this age?!?

AnnaMarie said...

Wow, that school sounds fun, and different! I completely agree about the school stuff, how it's ridiculous that you have to buy dry erase markers and hand sanitizer for the classroom to use. I don't know when that happened. My SIL spent over $50 on stuff. For one child. Good luck with the homework situation, yikes. But nice that you get to enjoy the museum with your kids, and hopefully Cash will love his year there!

A lot of moms put their kids in preschool at age 2 here, and it makes me crazy! And also sort of nervous that I'm not sending Katie, much less Jane! They're stay at home moms! Why do they need to send their kids away so early? Katie won't go to Kingergarten until she's almost 6 (Oct birthday), and I might not send her to preschool next year either! It's all so crazy. You just have to do what you feel is right for you and for your kids.

Jenilee said...

We had all day Kindergarten here as well, and thankfully we did not have that much homework. That is a crazy amount for 5 year olds to do. When do kids get to be just kids. Savannah was expected to read a book everyday and that was it. We will see how first grade goes this year. Hopefully not too much homework.
Savannah usually rides the bus home, but if I want to pick her up so she doesn't have to sit on the bus for 1 hour and 20 min everyday, then I have to go in and show picture id, sign a paper, pick up a card with her name on it, and wait for her in the cafeteria, then hand in the card as we leave the cafeteria. If I didn't have to take everyone into the school to pick her up, I would do it more often. School gets out at 3 and she doesn't get home until 4:20. I do not like it at all. Way too long. I like my child to be home in my care instead of in someone else's care most of the day.

Safire said...

So awesome that he goes to school in a museum! That is really interesting. But the pick up sounds awful. I picked up my kinder kid last year (hauling my twins through snow, ice, rain, etc.) and it DOES eventually get easier. Or you get used to it. It took me until after Christmas to be okay with it though. Sorry.

This year she rides the bus and it's SO much easier.

Also, I would tell his teacher NO to homework. I would let her know that you will be doing 1-2 worksheets a night and 10 minutes of reading and that is it. Kindergarten is not really required by law to take, so they shouldn't insist.

Our school is previewing the new (maybe) national curriculum for the second year. Last year, we had NO homework for our K. This year, one worksheet a night, and 10 minutes of reading out loud. I find it very reasonable.

Angie said...

The school supplies thing seems pretty universal these days. When I was little in Utah, everything was supplied, but when we moved to Va, my mom had to start buying supplies. Just wait until you're buying multiple lists of supplies for different classes, different schools and then they go to school and there are always a couple of last minute items they need on top of everything else. School supply shopping is the bane of my July. I love all day kindergarten. It allows my kids to get used to the schoolness of school (lunch, PE, music etc) while it is still kinder so that when it's first grade and more academically challenging, they have one less thing to worry about. But my kids are exceedingly slow to transition. Kinder around here requires a parent or authorized person to retrieve from school, but there isn't a sign out and older sibs can retrieve, so my 5th grader gets my kinder student but I did my fair share of dragging the half sleeping toddler draped over the stroller where the baby sibling while pregnant in 110+ heat (year round school) to retrieve the older siblings and waiting for this day to come. It sounds like you are smack dab in the middle of crazy parent land where they are trying so hard not to be part of the failing school culture that they panic and over burden the kids for fear they will fall behind. Oh the joys of school--it will get more interesting from here, trust me!

Angela said...

Yeah, kindergarten is intense these days. It kind of makes me sad. The charter school Beth just started going to (first grade) does full-day kindergarten too, which makes me really nervous for Josh next year. The kid still takes afternoon naps every day right now. And the homework- it does all seem like a little too much.

And that sounds like a pain in the neck to haul 3 kids in to get him at the end of the day through the rain. We just pull up to a curb to get Beth. I have been known from time to time to leave the younger 2 boys in the idling car while I dash in for 2 minutes. (I have been yelled at at the post office by a concerned woman once before--another story). But you probably couldn't pull that off with a 15 minute ordeal of going inside to get Cash.

Gavin and Shawna said...

Yeah for a cool school...that's something he can brag about when you're done there.
Boo for the crazy amounts of money I/we spend on supplies for school...and boo for so much homework...and reading...what!?!! That's crazy business!!

Geoff and Bets said...

ha hahaha im laughing because my children arent in school yet. no more comments from me about how non efficient and nutso miami can be- how come no one calls you out on that stuff but i say one little thing in 2.5 years of living here and i get hung! can i move yet?

Chadlee said...

That is so silly saying they're going green, but they still want you to print off the homework. Man, I wish the logistics were better for you with the picking up and the parking lot and everything. It's so hard with all those kids. Good luck and hopefully you guys will move to a more comfortable place soon where things are more "normal". Though we are in the best school district in OR and the cost of living in our little city is pretty high, so I assumed the schools would be flush with money. BUT Stella's school doesn't have air conditioning or a bus service and in the welcome packet they sent home the first day, they had a large envelope asking for a suggested donation of $750 for the school. Ugh.

Lindsey said...

I was laughing out loud about the F rated school and Ryan not knowing his alphabet and going green. Yeah, and "school" for 2 year olds (or 3 month olds) is definitely a euphemism for day care. I totally support you in putting your foot down on the reading log past bedtime.

Allysha said...

If you think it's too much homework, tell the teacher you won't do it all. As long as Cash is keeping up, she shouldn't have a problem with it. And seriously, don't be afraid to be involved in your child's education. You are the parent and you have a right to have a say in what goes on, especially at home.
{he. I may have strong feelings about this. :) }

Melanie said...

Not Normal. You are going to love love love moving anywhere else other than Miami. Most parents stop at the school doors and let their kids out and then wait in a car line to pick them up here in WI.
And that whole thing about being green - who are they kidding!
But it sounds like Cash is taking it all in stride. Good for you guys for forging ahead. Any school after this is going to be cake!

Tania said...

Pretty normal in New York (or now Connecticut.)
I've been dumping buckets of money on school supplies since Rebekah started kindergarten in 1998. At least now (for the past few years here) you can order pre-packaged supplies - you do it online & everything they need it waiting in a neat pile on their desk the first day of school. Really beats the crazy running around finding random or sold out items.
Pick up process is about the same here too - signing them out, etc. When we were in Utah last year it boggled my mind to see all the kids walk out of school - I asked my sister "They just open the doors and let them GO???" Maybe it's just big metropolitan areas. Or areas afraid of litigation :)