Disclaimer: This post is written by a very hormonal and emotional new (again) mommy. I am sleep deprived, running off caffeine, worn out from tandem nursing, and very upset about this whole school situation.
Last Wednesday was a big day for the Pace family!
It was Lincoln's Kindergarten screening day at our local district public school. We had an appointment set up with the school for 3 pm. According to our paper we received in the mail we would get a tour, see classrooms, see a dentist (!?) and Lincoln would be "screened" to see what he needed to work on this summer in preparation for Kindergarten. We made it a family affair. All five of us went to Lincoln's big day. I wore Marsden in a wrap, and we had Asher in a little umbrella stroller. We walked in and I already started getting misty eyed. Going to his first school is such a big milestone for our oldest son.
In a word the entire experience turned out to be AWFUL. A teacher came to take Lincoln to his screening while Zack and I went into the parents information session. During our session Zack and I were astonished to hear that kindergarten is now a rigorous, hard core grade that focuses on preparing the kids for passing the the state tests and getting everyone to the exact same level. Not once were the words CREATIVITY or IMAGINATION used. They explained that in the past there has been too much play time and craft time and that they had to focus and set rigid goals. The whole time I am sitting here thinking IS THIS MILITARY SCHOOL!? I could not believe that they start this right off the bat in kindergarten with little kids who many have never been to any school in their lives before.
So, after our information session which was about 10-15 minutes long we were taken by a teacher and the school principal into a small room. There they proceeded to tell us about her screening with Lincoln. She explained that he just would not work right with the school this year and they recommended holding him back a year. Basically this was all they said in a nutshell. They told us "he couldn't even hold the pencil or write out his name" and asked if he had any school before this. I was so upset that I was not able to ask more questions at that time, I got up, grabbed Lincoln my awesome special boy and left, crying as I walked out the door.
Why was I crying? What made me so crazy upset? Well first, I think it is insanely unfair to judge a child's development based off a 10-15 minute meeting in which he is sitting in front of a teacher asked to perform tasks, when I am sure he was incredibly intimidated by the situation in the first place. I first felt embarrassed and ashamed that I had not prepared him well enough for kindergarten. Then I got angry. I was furious that this was our option. I was beyond mad that they take away play time and hands- on, fun learning and make school such a strict rigorous program right from the get go. Not all kids learn that way, and not all kids do well at taking tests or performing for teachers.
I want a place for my son that is SPECIAL like he is. I want some place that can nurture his strengths and help me to find the very best way in which he learns things so that I can foster that. I want him to feel empowered about every thing he learns, not feel like he has to catch up to be on par with the test level the school desires so they can get more funding!!! My son is NOT A ROBOT. My son will not fit into this box. He is amazing, smart and talented in so many other ways, who gives a damn about how well he writes his name (which btw he does very well with me at home while I direct him, and can point out the letters and their names, and is very amazing at coloring and staying in the lines)
I am searching for the very best option for Lincoln this fall. I will be starting school as well and Lincoln is such a social child that he was really REALLY looking forward to starting school in a couple months. Back to the drawing board we go. Ive already sending out emails and frantically trying to make sure that my son has a place that he will LOVE and that will love him as well.