Kindergarten Crazy

Kindergarten, agh! A few years ago I remember listening to ladies discuss what kindergarten they would send there children to and thinking they were making a big deal about nothing and now here I am, making a big deal about kindergarten.

Nollie, my oldest is set to attend kindergarten next September. The school I was going to send her to was never really my issue. The local Catholic school was our choice. Small school - good, small class sizes - yep, faith based - sounds alright, many of her friends would be going there - cool, Curtis went there growing up. Easy, done. I was just getting used to the idea of Nollie going away to school three days a week next year, talking myself through it, mulling it around in my head all the time. Then they threw me a curve ball. St. Anthony's School in Drayton Valley would be going to a 5 full day a week kindergarten schedule next year. What!!!!!!! I was NOT OK with that. Five full days, getting up and onto the bus at 7:30am and not getting home until 4:30pm every week day. Spending more time with a teacher and some peers than her own family?!?!

Call me crazy but I actually like being around my kids. I enjoy cuddling with them, reading to them, listening to their crazy stories, watching them draw, colour and craft, baking with them, showing them how to find out about things that they are interested in from the library or on the internet, listening to them play (or fight) in the background, I even enjoy grocery shopping with them (for the most part).

Last night I went to the information/registration night at the school. I felt like I was being given a sales pitch "Teachers love the 5 day a week program....The Alberta government would like all schools to have a mandatory 5 day a week Kindergarten is very important here...this will put your child ahead...this will make for an easier transition to grade one...we do lots of learning ... but its fun...." I don't really like sales pitches, they turn me off, it makes me wonder why they have to sell it to me in the first place? After the presentation my friend asked if it made me feel better, all I could say was "NO". It made me feel even worse. All they told me is that they are going to do all the same things I already do at my house but they will do it and not me. Reading, writing, crafts, playing, letters, numbers, patterns.... yep that's our day every day. Growing plants, taking care of pets, even worm composting, yep, yep, yep. Was the fact that they will be baking with my kid supposed to make me feel better? She's baking at school and in return doesn't have time for baking at home? And after lunch they will have quiet time and centers?? Why not end at lunch and they can have quiet time and centers (aka playing with their toys) at home. I'm not buying it. And don't try to tell win me over by saying that many weeks are not a full five days because there are holidays, pd days etc, it doesn't change a thing for me.

I know kindergarten is not mandatory and I could just keep her home next year but she would hold it against me forever. For nearly a year now she has been talking about turning 5, because then she can go to school. It's not hard to see where she gets the magical idea about school, every adult that we come across asks if she's going to school, are you excited to go to school, school will be so fun, you'll learn to read, school, school, school. I'm guilty of it too, what do I ask a child between the ages of say 3 and 18? Do you go to school yet, what grade are you in, how is school, do you like school, what do you do a school,... really? is that all there is.

People seem to think that I'm just sad that she is growing up and leaving me, "I cried too sending my child off..." "...its normal, you'll get over it." Its more than just being sad to see her go though. Sending her to kindergarten is like subscribing to a system that I just don't agree with. I'm not a fan of sitting in a classroom for 12 years being taught what someone, somewhere decided will be the curriculum. I don't agree with testing and report cards, making some children feel dumb and like they are unable to learn and making others that learn how to take test well think they are smart. I don't agree with learning for the sake of the grade, I don't think children need to be taught. My biggest worry is probably that the education system will stifle or even destroy the creativity, curiosity and the drive to learn that I see in my kids. How many 12 year olds still love to learn, and enjoy school? Sure kindergarten is fun, of course it is, but what happens in a couple years when they have to just sit at a desk and listen, write out their times tables, learn about this now, oh stop the bell rang, now learn about that, no you can't go pee, its not bathroom time, I'm sorry you're hungry we can't eat now. I know we all did and and we survived but it doesn't mean it is the only option.

Its not really my style to just do something because it is what everybody does and its what we have been doing for the last 100 years. Someone is going to have to give me a better reason. I feel like I've read too much and learned too much to just send my kids to school.

So when one of the teachers asked me last night how I felt about the 5 day a week program and all I could say was "not good" there is just a sample of what I meant.
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