HomeUncategorizedKindergarten Blues

The alarm did not go off. Usually I would wake up anyway, but alas, my sleep-loving body still has not adjusted to the Daylight Savings Time Annual Cruel Trick. I woke up ten minutes before McKinley should be in school.

So he’s late, no big deal, right?

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

But he’s just in Kindergarten, right? What could be the problem?

The problem: Attendance policies? A Parent’s Lackadaisical attitude towards Education? Constant colds this winter?

A few weeks ago I got a very pleasant letter from the Yancey County Board of Education threatening me with a Class 3 Misdemeanor if McKinley missed twenty-five days of school. Excused or Unexcused. And he will have to repeat KINDERGARTEN if he misses more than twenty-five days. They tell me, “This is a very serious matter. Contact your principal immediately.”

Rant: Every tardy counts as one third of a day! So whether McKinley is late one minute or two hours, well, that just doesn’t matter. The Policy States That A Tardy Is One Third Of A Day. So though he has only missed twelve days this year, his accumulation of tardies puts him at twenty days (yes, yes, my husband and I one of those perpetually non-punctual persons).

Who cares if he’s one of the top readers in his KINDERGARTEN class? Who cares that it’s just KINDERGARTEN? These kids are on a schedule that stretches all the way to the end of high school. Test preparation begins the day they step through that door. Testing, testing, testing. Learning becomes a job, not a joy. And that infuriates me. Because my son is intelligent and curious, filled with spirit and curiosity. And he was so excited about going to Kindergarten and learning to read. Now he can read, yes, but he already hates school.

This predicament that I’m in, which is not fear of a Class 3 Misdemeanor, which is not trying to get to school on time, which is not the threat of McKinley repeating Kindergarten (if they are stupid enough to do that, then I’ll find some other means of education). No, No, the predicament I’m in is this: if learning is, at age six, a job, a daily activity despised, then what is the underlying message my son is getting? That he is not the author of his own life? That life is a chore? That the test results are the most important thing? That his own genius spark (which I believe every child has) is subordinate to the goals of some entity which decides what is important to learn, and when he’s to learn it. And who cares if the daffodils are blooming, that the Natural world has its own lessons to teach, if he could just immerse himself in it? This is what matters: Get to school on time. Do your homework. Do it even if you hate it. Raise your hand. Stand in line. Sit still.

Your thoughts?


Kindergarten Blues — 3 Comments

  1. It’s all about quotas, performance, bell curves, standardized tests, quantifiable results, compliance . . . isn’t it?

    Sad to say, even if McKinley were in, say, a Montessori school, there would be the same kinds of things – they’re just veiled and couched in different language.

    The process isn’t designed to make him hate school. The process is designed to make him a cog in the machinery of society.

  2. It’s so nice to know that I’m not the only one that thinks this!!! I’ve read a good bit and thought a whole lot about children’s education, and I even homeschooled my teenagers up until last year. That experience is worthy of a book, really, and though it nearly drove me mad, I think it gave my kids things that really aren’t quantifiable, but are certainly precious. Now that they are in “The System” they have something to compare their homeschooling to, and it’s interesting to see their take on things. Well, I’ll start writing the book if I keep on with this subject, but, I’m considering homeschooling McKinley with a friend, whose mother is absolutely one of my most beautiful friends. We both share the belief that children should be outside, outside, outside. Because the Great Mother teaches in Her own way. But it’s such a tremendous undertaking, and I’ve got to have my time better structured than I do now.

    I really don’t want any of my children to be cogs!

    Are you back from London? SO JEALOUS AM I!!

  3. I’d thought about homeschooling Evan, then realized that I’d wind up either hating him or burying the body. He could have been the poster child for “Does not live up to potential.”

    Your kids will be who they will be. You aren’t pushing them into being average by forcing them to participate in all those little things that shape a child – clubs, sports, church groups, youth groups. You don’t set the “cog” example.

    I always said that Evan marched to the beat of a different saxophone. He still does, and he survived a (mostly) public school education.

    Yes, I’m back from London. Tell you what, I’ll trade you one trip for a 10th of your incredible creativity. How’s that?

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