I have so many things I need to blog about (including our INCREDIBLE new house that we can’t wait to move into) But as usual, I seem to only come to the blog when I hit an issue I need input on or need to write down to process. Today will be all about my Monkey and school.
When we were in California, Monkey attended a neighborhood cooperative pre-school. He started there when he was just shy of 3 years old and was there until we moved in late January (just past his 5th bday). He loved school, and everyone there loved him. We were very involved (coop and all – DW worked there one day a week), and knew his teacher and all of the other parents really well. It was a close-knit, safe, welcoming, warm community. We knew we’d never replace it when we moved and we all mourned the loss and wish we could have finished out the school year. But life happens.
We began touring pre-schools in NC pretty much as soon as our feet hit the ground. Still, it took over a month to find one that 1) had an opening and 2) seemed like a decent fit for us. Monkey started at a Montessori school a couple of weeks ago. During his first week, we kept getting feedback from the teacher that indicated he is behind where they would expect him to be. He doesn’t write his name or hold a pencil properly. He has trouble using scissors. None of this is new information to us – Monkey is all about being outside and active and the coop was play-based and focused on building social skills and character, which we fully support. The coop offered daily activities that incorporated writing, drawing, cutting, etc., but Monkey has always been more of an athletic type. He’d much prefer to be outside running wild to sitting at a table coloring (much to our chagrin on occasion).
Last year, I wondered if we should pull him out of the coop and put him in a more academic prep environment for his third year of preschool (December b-day led to an extra year). We toured a few places and found that they weren’t much different from our beloved coop (and they cost quite a bit more), so we stayed put. We also enrolled him in a weekly Kindergarten prep course that many of the coop kids attend. He did very well in those classes and we got nothing but positive feedback from the instructor. My mind was put at ease. He could and did do all of it just fine.
On Monday of this week, Monkey insisted that he was not going to school. He refused to get dressed and cried in a very emotional, sad way (not the tantrumy, get-my-way cry). We were frustrated but didn’t force the issue. When asked, he told us he didn’t want to go because, “Their playground isn’t very good.” Hahahahaha! His teacher told us there had been no issue she was aware of, that he played nicely with some of the other kids and seemed to be doing well. Tuesday came and we had a crying boy again. We tried everything – gently asking why, bribery, loss of privileges and still he wouldn’t budge. Yes, we are softies but it’s hard when we turned his life upside down a mere matter of weeks ago, you know? This is all new. Plus we don’t know these people well, so we didn’t want to force him back in case there truly was an issue he wasn’t able to put into words.
He doesn’t have school on Wednesdays (no room for him), so last night I prepped him for today. I had him pick out his school outfit and praised his choice. I told him that he was going to school tomorrow (today), even if we had to take him in his PJs, but that I really hoped he’d get dressed in the awesome outfit he picked out. My sweet boy did it – he got up, ate breakfast, got dressed, and headed to school with DW. So proud of him 🙂 He was a bit clingy when they arrived at school, but in he went.
At pickup, the teacher told DW she wants to have a parent/teacher conference that is probably about how “behind” he is. IMO, they are being very alarmist. I’m left wondering how much (if any) of it is of actual concern, how much of it might just be the Montessori way (we have had no Montessori experience previously), and how much of it might be pressure for him to continue next year in this school. They offer Kindergarten and just today acted like they might boot us out of the program now if we don’t enroll for next year as they didn’t realize our intent was for him to finish the current school year with them and attend our neighborhood school for K.
I know that many (probably even most) other kids write their name prior to K (and then some, for some kids) and use scissors, etc. I also know that my kid is perfectly capable of it and I plan for us to work with him on these things to give him a nice start in Kinder. But honestly they are acting like it’s the end of times that this child isn’t doing these things. Monkey is super bright, good with numbers and letters, loves reading books, asks awesome questions, etc. I have no fears that he’s not ready for Kindergarten. But this school has put a niggling little bit of doubt in the back of my head and I really don’t appreciate it. I’m left wondering if Monkey is feeling this pressure and it is causing him anxiety, making him not want to be there. Y’all, parenting is hard.