Monday, September 09, 2013

Anxiety dreams brought on by entering the public school system

I took my middle child, who turns six in November to kindergarten last Wednesday. Leaving him in that classroom was incredibly hard. You may be thinking to yourself "why?". The answer is simple and complex all at once.

Let me take you back to some of my first and youngest memories. I remember playing house at preschool, which was probably around age 3 or 4. Thanks to growing up as an only child my memory from very early childhood is spotty, I don't have older siblings to help me fill in the gaps. Which brings me to kindergarten. I remember there being one of those oval shaped multi-colored braided rugs that were in vogue back in the early 1980's. I remember sunshine filtering in through one of the many windows our portable had. There was art time and circle time. We might even have had nap time for all I can recall. The overall feeling of the place was happy, joyful, welcoming and colorful. And laughter, cheerful voices not too much quiet time.

Last week I walked into my son's classroom and I felt claustrophobia sweeping over me. I saw incredibly boring stark white walls and way too many tables. There is barely any play area and there are only two windows in the whole room. It didn't feel welcoming or happy in there. The sensation of conformity slapped me across the face as I saw assigned seating and little lanyards with the kids names on them.

After my son's first day he asked me when he got to stop going to school. I said well you are supposed to go through twelfth grade. And he said " that's too many, why can't I stop after first?" My heart fell at the comment. I know that going to school is a huge adjustment for just about every kid.  I also know that it can take about a month to settle in. After the second day of school my son asked how many days left he had until summer. When I said somewhere around 187 or so he said that was just too many. Also on that second day of school my son  barely ate any of his lunch which is so out of character for him. As a parent you can become heartsick for your children when helping them is somewhat out of your control. It doesn't help much either when the teacher barely says anything to the adults in the class let alone the students.

When my eldest went off to preschool through the public school system it was a bit different. For one it was a special needs class and two it was incredibly welcoming. The transition for her between preschool and kindergarten was not difficult because she just had to go into the next room. Again this classroom with it's teachers and staff is so warm and open it is just how you imagine it should be.(the busing situation however is rather frustrating but I digress)

My son needs to get out of the house, he needs activities that stimulate his growing and curious mind. Homeschooling would most definitely backfire on us. This nonconformist mother is having a very hard time watching her overly verbal son come home sullen and withdrawn. His behavior issues which I have written about in past blogs are a bit amplified thanks to his siting at a desk for six hours a day with not enough exercise thrown in. Not to mention he's trying so hard at school to be "good" , that by the time we see him again he's absolutely exhausted which can make simple, easy fix problems explode at us parents.

Now we've started week two of the 2013-2014 school year and I am exhausted and running on fumes. My husband has no shreds of patience to be seen. And we're expected to be smiling team players of this whole K-12 grade education thing that was brought on by the industrial revolution. Where big companies saw that if they taught kids at an early age to sit and conform that later when they came to work in factories there would be less "trouble" from the workers. (I kid you not go search for the little video from Seth Godin. It is eye opening!)

Looks like I am not alone: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114527/self-regulation-american-schools-are-failing-nonconformist-kids


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