Monday, October 19, 2015

The Festival

I had Friday off from work.  We had received multiple flyers touting the school "festival," which was also supposed to function as a fundraiser for field trips.  Of course, they only gave us about a week's notice, and they wanted us to make food.  Not just any food, but rather food that was representative of our heritage.  This amused me.  We are from northern New England.  What is our "heritage" food? Shellfish?  I asked the girls what they wanted to bring, and one said macaroni and cheese, and the other said cake, so that is what we brought.  Hey, it was homemade Mac 'n cheese!

We were also invited to a lunch with SB's class.  There were supposed to be games that you could pay to play, with morning events and afternoon ones.  Anyway, when we got there with our food, I discovered that only two people from Miss M's class had brought anything, and one item was fruit cups from the store.  There were few or any parents there.  sB's class was a bit better--most parents had brought something, but only three or four were actually present.  I began to wonder how the fundraiser was going to work, without parents present to pay for games.  It turned out that there were not any games.  The classes went into several other classrooms for a few minutes, but they did things like read books and watch a video about fall.  It was really disorganized.

Then we got to lunch.  In addition to bringing the food, we had to pay $7 to eat the food with our kids!  I was a little put off.  We were invited to a lunch and asked to bring something for a potluck.  Then, the teacher had our kids' art and photos everywhere, and she expected us to buy everything.  She went so far as to take the photos and approach me when I didn't immediately open my wallet.  I ended up shelling out $25 for the day, which was fine, but there are a lot of low income students at the school.  Our preschool teacher seemed to be driving the whole thing, and I don't know what she was thinking.  She also gave my husband a hard time for not contributing more.

Anyway, it was super disorganized, but it gave me a chance to see SB in school all day.  It was hard to see, but helpful.  She's not herself at all.  Rather, she was sad and anxious all morning, even with me there.  She was terrified that I was going to leave her, even after I had reassured her that I was staying all day.  She was a bit tearful.  In short, she was not my exuberant, happy handful of a child at all.  I quickly could see why.  Her teacher is cruel.  She's not working with her at all--she's beating her down.  At one point early on, SB didn't want to sit on the rug with the other kids, and the teacher told her that if she didn't behave, I was going to leave!  I was completely horrified.

In the afternoon, there were supposed to be more activities, but the teacher put all of the kids down for nap time, and then didn't wake them up for over two hours!!  It's no wonder SB has been up until 9 every night.  T had mentioned to me that the kids have still been napping at 3 a few times when he's gone to pick her up.  The teacher is clearly letting them sleep too long.  It certainly makes her job easier.  But SB hadn't napped in months before starting school, because she was not sleeping at night.

I kept her up at school, since I was there, thinking that the kids would only sleep an hour and we would do afternoon activities as we're on the schedule.  Nope.  The teacher had the kids sleep until 3, then woke them up when it was time to go home.  I would have just taken SB and left, had I known, but I also needed to collect Miss M, and her class was actually doing work.  Instead, SB and I read books and played games.  Finally, it had dragged on too long, and SB started to whine a little.  Her teacher started to lecture her.  I had had enough at that point, and I cut her off.  "She's bored," I said.  The teacher actually seemed surprised.  "Oh.  Well, she can paint."  So, that's what she happily did for the rest of the day.

I don't think I am capturing it well here--the teacher's indifference, her lack of patience, her sanctimonious lecturing of both T and I throughout the day about how she's using positive reinforcement and behavior modification "to great success."  SB is afraid of her.  Period.  There is no warm, nurturing relationship there.  I'm not sure what she is saying and doing when we are not there, but it is not anything a true professional would recognize as "positive reinforcement".  Her teacher, it is clear to me now, is a bully.

After watching the other kids all day, I'm sure my kid is her toughest.  She is VERY high energy (indeed, some of the other kids appeared lethargic in comparison--and this is a class of 3 year olds).  But there are a few other kids who are in the same realm, and it takes a talented, patient soul to harness and channel all of that energy.  Which she is not.  It's not so much, though, that SB is a "bad" kid (and I hate that word--these are three year olds!), as much as she is a busy kid who needs to be engaged.  Without a task, she can be unruly.  The teacher doesn't seem to grasp that.

Anyway, today the kids have no school, because we have parent teacher conferences.  I can hardly wait to hear what SB's teacher has to say.  I am still deciding how to approach it.  I think I am probably going to politely give her a piece of my mind, but I sort of feel like this may be beyond fixing.  The real problem is that it is next to impossible to secure a preschool slot around here, so we are lacking good options.  Plus, I love the PK4 and K teachers, so I wonder if we should ride it out and see what we can do to work with this teacher.  I'll have a better sense later today.

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