Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lunch at 1300 hours

I'm not the mom that worries about her kid adjusting to new things. Heaven knows, Sam's done beautifully adjusting to so many changes in his short life that I marvel at how he could possibly be MY child (I don't do change well). I'm also not the mom to get all emotional about "my baby" growing up. In fact, I tend to inwardly cringe when I hear other mothers refer to their child in such a fashion. I mean, really...cut the cord already.

So you can imagine my surprise at finding myself ranting and raving to my husband yesterday upon his return from Kindergarten orientation. Now first, I was a bit miffed because I did not get to attend said orientation because it was scheduled at 2pm and someone had to stay home with Sam because it was "for parents only," and we do not have a local babysitter. And yes...I am also irritated that I am taking tomorrow off of work to accommodate their scheduling his meet the teacher time at 10am on a Wednesday...as if parents just don't have work schedules. But I digress.

Steve came home from orientation and gave me his impressions of the kindergarten teacher. His description? "Not exactly warm and fuzzy." In fact, "She seems to have a lot of rules." In kindergarten? OK...I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. After all, I'm not a kindergarten teacher. She SOUNDED really nice in the little letter she sent home, specifically addressed to Sam. How bad could it really be?

But then Steve said, "And do you want to hear something truly absurd?" And that is when all bets were off. Let me try to calmly tell you about the absurdity...

Recess is fifteen minutes before lunch. If the class goes outside, everyone goes outside...no exceptions. Upon returning from recess, the class will go directly to the cafeteria where they will eat their lunch...there is no returning to the classroom between recess and lunch. Now, this poses two problems for me and my son. First, what if he brings his lunch? How exactly does it get from the classroom to the cafeteria? Teleportation? And second...and this is the one that sent me on a rant of epic proportions...

We live in an area called THE SNOW BELT. All children are to wear appropriate snow gear...coats, hats, mittens, snowpants, boots. They are going to spend fifteen minutes out in the snow...and then head directly to the cafeteria where they are expected to eat their lunches IN THEIR SNOW CLOTHES. Forget the discomfort of overheating while you eat. Forget the fact that I'm sure more than one kindergarten student will promptly throw up their lunch when they finally do return to the classroom and remove their layers. Let's focus on my child for a second. My child who suffers from Reactive Airway Disorder. My child who suffers asthma-like symptoms when faced with extreme temperature changes. My child, who is not allowed to dispense his own inhaler/medication, but must ask the teacher to send him to the nurse (provided it's not on Friday because the nurse doesn't work on Friday).

Am I the only one who sees a problem with this plan? Really, what would it take to allow the kids to return to the classroom to remove their snow clothes before heading to the cafeteria to eat? Would it take up too much precious finger-painting time? I mean, it's just KINDERGARTEN!

So now I have gone from laid-back-mom-who-doesn't-worry, to a complete and total freak. I know other moms who already have their first day of kindergarten stories to tell. For the most part, they seem to be relatively pleasant. There is one mom whose son was allowed to take his stuffed animal to the first day (Sam is allowed NO TOYS at kindergarten) and it really got me to thinking my baby is not going to do well if this kindergarten teacher is more like a drill sergeant than a kindergarten teacher. He IS a sensitive kid, despite what he may have been through during the past three years. He DOES need love and attention more than cold rules and strict routine. How do I send him off to the care of a stranger and just hope that she understands him? How do I send him off to the care of a stranger who seems less than interested in trying to understand him?

I know these questions and worries are not unique. I know mothers have faced them since the beginning of the public school system. I know that my child will be ok, one way or another. If I have to step in and talk to the teacher, I will certainly do that. If she won't listen, I will not hesitate to go over her head. I don't want an adversarial relationship and I hope it won't be necessary.

I guess I'm just sad that it is starting this way. "Be all you can be" is a nice slogan for the military...I'm just not sure it has a place in kindergarten. I'm sad that we don't seem to have anyone on "our side," who is as interested in guiding our boy as we are...with love. I want Sam to love school and I'm terribly afraid this is going to produce just the opposite reaction in him.


DD said...

First a rather simplistic view: is there another school you could look at for Sam?

Now the complicated: you definitely need to go in and talk to both the teacher and the administrator about your concerns. Do they really have to eat in their coats and hats or are they allowed to deposit them in a heap by the table (like I've seen at our school)? Logistically it makes no sense.

And will Sam have to wear a warming mask while outside or will a nurse be at his table, inhaler in hand, to respond if necessary?

When did schools get to be so militant?

Catherine said...

There are other schools...but of the available choices, this one has the best educational reputation.

They are apparently allowed to remove their hats and mittens...and unzip, but not remove, their coats, etc. My husband asked, "Won't the children complain about being hot while they eat?" The teacher's response? "Probably for the first few days, but they'll get over it."

Holley said...

I wish there were better options in this area.

The schools in our area ditched art and music --umm kids this age learn best through play.

For this reason the ones Cathy described and a few others, we went with a private school. That was a tough choice for me because I never thought I would send my kid to a private school.

Cathy-you should talk to Sam's doctor. The son of a GAL I know has the same disorder. After some conversations with the school and some letter writing, her son stays inside when the weather is bad for him.

Bon said...

i don't have much that's helpful to offer, but i will say, i'm completely with you. yes, kindergarten is school, and schools are built on a military model (oh yes, that's the history on which the system was built, i teach M.A. in education classes and unpeeling that onion always blows my teachers' minds), but these are still five year olds, and the goal is to help them learn and love to learn. the school probably needs rules in order to function, but the teacher also needs to remember that her role is to support the kids in this transition to school, not to draw a hard line in the sand for them to trip over.

yikes. i eagerly await the rest of your take on the situation after tomorrow's session.

Carole said...

That just totally stinks. No adult would want to eat with their jacket on...they shouldn't make kids either. :(

Jelly-Filled said...

I believe you need to talk to the teacher and an administrator. Go with doctor's orders in hand. They can try to tell you there are no exceptions to the rule, but there ARE exceptions, and Sam's case is one of them.

Sheesh. This is kindergarten. Where's their humanity? And their common sense?

kate said...

They have to eat in their coats??? Bizarre...

Shinny said...

Is your school large enough to have more then one Kindergarten class? If you do see if it would be possible to meet another teacher and see if they are a bit more realistic in regards to kindergarten. Also, it is kindergarten and if you truely feel that being with this teacher is going to turn Sam off on school, possibly trying a different school for a year or two and then switch back if this school really does have the best educational options when he is older.
From what I found with moving and Alex having to change schools in 2nd grade, the real differences in schools educational abilities doesn't come til the later grades. At least here in Wisconsin, the public elementary schools have to follow the same cirriculum.(sp?)
I would be more concerned, if it was me, with getting Sam established in liking school. He is going to encounter enough kids, that have older siblings, with the "I hate school" attitude as it is, he doesn't need to develop that himself due to a drill sargent teacher. I got lucky with Alex, he didn't get that bad school attitude until 4th grade and that was due to the teacher from h*ll.
Sorry about all my spelling errors, but I think you can figure out what I am trying to say. ;) Good luck.

Lori said...

Eating with their coats on???? That is hands down the weirdest thing I have heard today (okay, it's still early, but it's still weird). I say this as a parent, and as a former school teacher. I could have NEVER made my students eat with their coats on. It would have made ME hot!

And why do they have recess before they eat anyhow? That is completely backward to any school I have ever encountered. Most schools have the kids go to lunch (carrying their coats if they will need them), and then recess follows. Doesn't that make more sense? (Sorry... I'm only adding fuel to your fire).

I have observed that because most children attend preschool these days, Kindergarten has become a VERY different environment. Kindergarten used to be the starting point for every child, and was therefore much more basic, and frankly, nurturing. Now, since the majority of kids enter Kindergarten more "school ready" it has allowed teachers and schools to create a far more academic, structured environment. The problem is that some kids will do fine with that, and some still need more transition time.

I am going to be pulling for Sam that in spite of the silly rules, he still finds school to be a wonderful, exciting place!

Mrs. Fun said...

Kate, they have a lunch tub that an aide takes to the lunch room and they get their lunch boxes there. If its too cold or hot they have indoor activities.
Those are the rules but for the safety of children they have to switch it up on hot or cold days.
Also a note from the dr. and keeping communication open will solve all your worries, i promise.
I would email the teacher or other staff and voice your concerns. I am sure there are loopholes to these rules. There are here but its for heat ;)

this is Mrs. Fun, no idea who i am logged in as though. I am thinking JJ *giggle*