Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Past and Present: Making Peace with Full-Day Kindergarten

Reliving childhood: one of the best and worst parts about being a parent.

I feel all nostalgic for the times when, as a kid, I would watch Fragle Rock with a bowl of popcorn made from real kernels on a real stove with real vegetable oil.

I remember the not-so-cozy times when I was trying so desperately to fit in with hair that would not perm and not have a clue about how to tight-role my pants.

I think that when raising kids, it’s totally natural to revisit yours.  Some people want to give their kids The. Same. Exact. Childhood.  Others want the direct opposite.  (I, personally, am a health mix of both).

That’s what I see when people get all riled up by Full-Day Kindergarten (which has just been instituted by our school district.  I’ve written it about it here,and  here).

Kindergarten is not the same as it was thirty years ago.  Students are reading, and there is this phenomenon called sight words.  There are also weekly homework packets sent home, as well as projects galore.  It’s not learn a few letters, play for a while, have a snack, and maybe a nap.  Oh, no; they are taking care of business in Kindergarten.

When I talk about this new Full-Day Kindergarten with parents that are upset by this, I am able to infer that it’s because they long for the cozy feeling that they remember from Kindergarten.

But times change.  The world is changing, and so are standards.  I see that people are mad at the teachers for the changes and think that the kids are being pushed too hard.  (Believe me, teachers are not in charge of these changes.  And if you feel that your kids is being pushed too hard, then that teacher is feeling some big-time heat from the administration to come through with all these new standards).  (I have a lot to say about that.  Perhaps a post for another time).

I have to say that I am stuck somewhere in between wanting to curl up with my warm memories of show-and-tell days of Kindergarten and embracing the new Full-Day Kindergarten.  I really do want to fully accept this new way because my number one job as a parent is to make sure that my Babes are ready to be independent and sufficient members of society.  I don’t want them to be behind or hold them back from their full potential because my Kindergarten days were easy breezy and that’s the way it ought to be, damn it!

So I have come to the inevitable conclusion that my thoughts on this new Full-Day Kindergarten are totally and completely irrelevant.  Whether I like it or not, it’s happening.

I mean, it’s not like I don’t have a choice.  I could send Thomas to private school for a half day or enroll him in Pre-K.  (And things could change since he is not quite three yet).

But taking my emotions out of it so I can objectively look at each Babe and figure out what he and she needs: that’s my job.

Easier said than done, right?  Trying to take emotions out of parenting decisions is like taking salt out of the ocean: it’s so entrenched, you forget that they are two separate entities coming together to make one.

But isn’t that what parenting is all about?  Making best choices for our Babes without letting our fears and judgments and preconceived notions color their canvases before they show us who they truly are?

Well, that and having an excuse to watch Fragle Rock again, right?

What parenting decision are you struggling to come to terms with?



Elizabeth - FlourishinProgress said...

Ah, Fragle Rock. You are really bringing me back in time. =)

Currently, I'm really struggling with leaving at Cal at home more. She wants to do it, but I feel very uncomfortable about it.

Maybe when's she 18, I'll be okay with it. Just kidding.

Mommy on the Spot said...

18 is fine. And so is 25. Or never. That's my plan, at least.

Annie said...

Ayyyyy, taking salt out of the ocean. Beeeeeutiful. And true. :)

Mommy on the Spot said...

Awww, thanks Annie! xo