Kindergarten Woes

Child Tracing K in Salt
Photo from Rockabye Butterfly

My son and I were really spoiled by his pre-school experience. He was quite advanced, both cognitively and socially, and his pre-school teacher accommodated his needs perfectly. The pre-school teacher helped me understand that my son would be best served by entering kindergarten early.  After some searching, I found what I thought was the perfect school for him but soon became disillusioned.

While my son was reading at a third-grade level, he had to trace letters with his fingers in sand on his desk to help him "learn" the letters and their sounds.

He had to sit quietly during circle time while the teacher read simple stories about fluffy bunnies and the like to the children (my son was reading about black holes).  He got in trouble all the time because he kept getting up and going to play instead of listening to the story.

After a few months at this school, my son was becoming very, very unhappy. Instead of the happy boy who used to run to greet me when I came to pick him up, he would frown and tell me that he wasn't learning anything new, that the teacher was making him do things he already knew how to do. It was so frustrating to him that he was not just becoming unhappy, he was growing angry.

Even worse than this, though, was what the principal was doing. I didn't know about it at the time, but the following year, another parent told me about it. Had I known, I would have been in that principal's office daily until she stopped it.

When I was looking for a school for my child, I had talked with the principal and her philosophy seemed to match mine perfectly - all children's academic needs should be met, each child should be treated as an individual. There was one problem with her view that I had not been aware of. She saw children either as typical, average children, or children who needed extra help.

She didn't believe any children could be more advanced that other children. She neglected to mention that tidbit of her ideology, even though it had to have been obvious to her when I talked with her that I was looking for a school that would challenge my son appropriately.

So what did she do that was so bad?  She would pull my son out of class so he could play in her office. She believed that he knew how to read and knew about space and science and all the rest he knew because I was "pushing" him and "depriving him of his childhood." Rather than discuss it with me, she opted to take it upon herself to somehow provide him with a childhood that I was cruelly depriving him of. My son never told me about it because first, he wasn't one for providing details of daily activities at school, but second and more importantly, he didn't see it as a negative. It's not that he got a chance to play that he supposedly never got at home. It was that he was relieved of the mind-numbing frustration of sitting in a classroom where his greatest challenge was to draw the letter "k" in the sand on his desk with his finger.

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Read more about my experiences raising my son.

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