I have been preoccupied. I have been debating myself on how exactly to pen this post. so here I go … It’s a rather long post, so please bear with me 🙂
Last year around this time, the start of spring I was busy looking for a good school program for the kids. The public school where we live does not have a preK program and they were out growing their day care program. When I started looking around, there were way too many options, private Pre-K and Kindergarten programs seems to be a very good business. Every program was unique and promising in its own way. It just added to my confusion. I knew that my little boys who had then just turned 4 were very shy kids who needed time to adjust and get used to a new place. I evaluated every program available in my neighborhood and zeroed down on a school which had a part time program. I knew that my parents would be coming to spend the winter with us, so I knew I had backup at home for the hours when I would be working. I did not want the kids to be over stressed with studies this early and the school looked nice and comfortable to me. The classes were bright and colorful; the teachers came with a 20 year experience. “They must have seen it all” said D. I geared up for the initial struggle that I knew was coming. Pulling the boys out of the day care was going to be a big challenge, since the boys loved that place.
The first day went fairly well, the boys were a little afraid of the big building. This was a big school which went on till 8th grade. I remember how D and I had discussed that as the boys get adjusted, Kindergarten would be a cake walk.
As the days went the teachers opened their box of complaints. Every day after the school ended, I was asked to stay back till every parent had left after picking their kids up. I waited every day to listen how my boys refused to make a necklace out of beads or use scissors to cut simple shapes. I was surprised, because these are the things that they had already done in their preschool program. This was definitely not the first time my boys were going to a school. I came back frustrated not knowing how to deal with this problem. I knew that the boys would cry at drop off, that I was ready for. I was not ready for performance complains from teachers. A part of me was concerned wondering what was going on and the other was confused. The first thing I did when I got home was to give the boys some beads and asked them to make a necklace. I had no issues in making them do the tasks. That confused me further. Lack of skills was definitely not the issue.
Days passed but the complaints did not go away, the teachers were clearly not happy with the boys. Now they started saying that my boys lacked social skills. Now this was something that really told me that something was wrong, terribly wrong in the judgment. My boys can be everything, but the one thing that defines them is how extremely social they are. BB is known for being a chatterbox and junior for being able to adjust to every age group. But I did not want to be that parent who lived in denial. I started talking with my pediatrician; he saw nothing missing in my boys. “Give them time” he said. The same thing I have been telling the teachers. I reached out to the principle of the school. How can I help my boys ? What can you do to help my boys? These were the only two things I wanted to know. I know that my boys were ex-preemies, if they are having trouble adjusting or if there is something that needs to be done, I would rather do it now and get it sorted out. Sadly, no one could give me any answer. Months went by; the teachers started hinting at me that I have to repeat pre-K for the boys. I was still not convinced. Not that I did not want to hold them back, I was not convinced that they needed to be held back. I still am not convinced.
Nothing at school has changed in the last 7 month, except for the fact that my boys have a special dislike for school now. I am still asking the teachers how I can help my boys come up and do whatever the teachers expect them to do. At 5, my boys can recognize all alphabets, they know about 60 sight words, and they can write all alphabets. They have their group of friends and they talk nonstop. They play T-ball. Yes, they are still a little shy with strangers, but they do warm up pretty fast.
I made a mistake in not pulling them out, but I thought at that time that shifting them to a new school might send a wrong message to the boys and they would take more time settling down at the new place too. I have asked the teacher several times how she can help my boys get adjusted, but I never got a response. May be they needed some extra help, may be some kind of additional push. I can’t say exactly what. I can’t be at the class to do what I do with them at home. Whatever the boys have learnt so far, they have learnt at home. I cannot go back in time to change what happened; I guess I will have to live with this regret.
I have talked with many parents, and from what I understand the problem is, is that the teacher expects all children to behave alike, react alike or at least in a similar fashion. We were extremely fortunate to have had a pre-school teacher who was very involved with my boys. When they were younger and with Miss J, I never heard the word “they cannot…” from her. She was always positive and full of ideas. They need to do this project, here is what we can do to help them learn. In this school, I have heard a lot of things but what I have not heard is “here is what we can do to see if that helps”.
Last 7 months I have trained myself by going to websites on how to teach the boys handwriting, every day after office hours, I sat with them trying to teach them things they were supposed to learn at school. They were 4! It is not like they need to know the encyclopedia. Learning should be fun, at least that is how I look at it. If they get weary of school at the beginning, what kind of academic life are we looking at? I am not a teacher or someone skilled at evaluating children, and that is why I guess we have educational institutes and teachers. The school my boys go to is till the 8th grade, they have experienced teacher. If they can not answer one simple question that “what should I do to help my boys” who will ?