Thursday, August 05, 2010

Kindergarten Open House

Today was Open House at Luke's elementary school for all students to come and meet their teachers. Yes, on a Thursday. Yes, from 8AM-2PM. Why yes, that is in the middle of the day when many parents are working! I don't get it, but apparently all of the schools in this particular area have done it this way for years, and it clearly didn't stop lots of people from showing up. We arrived at 8:10, and there were literally about 100 people in line ahead of us. Now, most of those were in groups of 3-4 [parent(s) with kid(s)], so we only had to wait for 25-30 groups to clear, but it still took nearly 45 minutes. It was hot, but better in the 9AM heat than the 2PM heat. We saw a few kids that we knew from daycare, but they are all in higher grades than Luke.

You were not permitted to pass beyond the foyer without showing proof of residency. Thankfully, the head secretary had told me that when I registered him, so we were prepared. And since we had already registered, we were able to proceed directly to the lunch room; those who had not yet registered went to the library. The lunch room had different stations set up: bus routes, after school clubs (Luke is too young for all of them), after school care registration, PTA membership, etc. We were handed a packet of forms as we walked in, but I wasn't sure about some of the extras and whether or not they were recommended for his age group. Enter Julie, one of the PTA co-presidents. I don't know how or why she picked us as her pet project at that moment, but she walked us through every single step personally, what was a good idea to have and what we really didn't need, and made sure we had his teacher assignment before we left. She even gave us the low down on all of the Kindergarten teachers and said that both she and the principle are very concerned that each child be a good match with his or her teacher, so if we didn't feel Mrs. B was a good fit for Luke, we should contact her and she would be happy to walk is through the process of switching. It sounded like his assigned teacher would be very good for Luke, but I wanted to meet her to be sure. Then we headed up the hall to his Kindergarten room. Check out the hall outside of his classroom (all of the halls are this beautifully painted!).

The room is actually smaller than I expected, but she has it very well arranged with a whole lot crammed into a small space. (I'm sure it would feel larger without one wall completely consumed by computer desks, but I am also happy to see computers in there!) Very bright and cheery. She greeted us happily and gave us a quick rundown of things we might need or want to know. I think she is a great balance of nice (but not sticky sweet) and firm (but not gruff). She also cleared up the question of the pencil box without me even having to ask. Whew! There were three other families in there with us, but she juggled us easily, and I still got all of my questions answered.

I can't say I was very happy with some of the answers, but that's not her fault. It's just policy. There is no rest or nap time, which doesn't surprise me. But there is also no snack time. Not in the morning or in the afternoon. Wow, really? They eat lunch at 10:30 (yes, really!), and that's it? Nearly all of these kids get up before 7AM, and some before 6. I can also assure you that the vast majority of them, whether coming from home, Pre-K, or daycare, are accustomed to least one snack a day, possibly two. Combine having no snack and no rest time with having to get up 90 minutes earlier than usual so that he can get on the bus at 6:50 AM (yes, really! I'll be getting him up at 6), and that is a Luke meltdown just waiting to happen.

I explained that Luke gets either very unreasonable or very upset when he gets hungry, so if he starts refusing to follow basic instructions or starts crying over nothing, he probably needs calories. Once he gets upset, it is hard to get and/or keep him calm after without some kind of food. I offered to send some packs of crackers or something, if she was allowed to do that, not for every day, but just in case she needed them for any child. She said that she has packs of crackers and graham crackers on her "teacher wish list" to handle kids when they get like that. She has been teaching Kindergarten for 16 years, so I'm sure it isn't her first time handling the situation, but I did want to warn her that Luke is particularly prone to it (runs in the family, doesn't it little brother? LOL). I know kids have to get used to it at some point, but that is a whole lot of transitioning crammed into Kindergarten, which is (clearly!) stressful enough as it is. There's really no choice but to deal with it, but I don't have to be happy about it.

Overall, I feel like we're pretty ready for the first day. Guess we'll find out on Monday!

Currently feeling: hope we're ready!

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