Thursday, April 08, 2010

we may not be able to tell an oval from a diamond but at least we're polite

(I do not know WHY this post that I published yesterday was deleted. But it was. And it isn't the first time posts that I've written and published have vanished in to my draft folder only to show up again, partially written with all pictures deleted. And yet the comments are still there? It makes no sense. I think my computer might be haunted.)

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Although we've communicated to my company that we will be moving to Virginia later this year, at the moment there is a lot of uncertainty at our house. So much in fact, that until such time that a moving truck actually arrives and carts us away, I'm not entirely convinced that we're going anywhere.

As such, this morning the children had their kindergarten pre-assessment at the school where we enrolled them last month, and which they would begin in July, if we're still here.

(Carolyn was so excited that she ambushed my makeup drawer and put on lipstick for the big event. I think it compliments the milk from her cereal quite well.)

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Because the school is just down the street from our house, Charlie and I walked while the children joyously skipped ahead and collected flowers. It was a lovely day. Absolutely perfect in every way and I imagined that this is exactly what it would be like once the school year began.

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Once we arrived on the school grounds, Charlie stayed outside with Henry and I took the triplets inside to have their individual assessments which were anticipated to take approximately 15 minutes, each.

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While his sisters played quietly nearby, William went first.

He could easily count to thirty. He recognized all of his numbers except those pesky teens. But once he got started with thirteen, fourteen ... he was able to blaze through the rest. He knew all of his letters, both capital and small and was able to sound them all out. He also was able to sort numbers in ascending order and match the number of objects with the actual value. He recognized his shapes. Well, he recognized a circle. He thought a triangle was a rectangle, a rectangle was a square, a square was an oval and a diamond was a kite.

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While they were working on shapes, William had one weary eye on his teacher and while shaking his finger would ask, "Are you trying to trick me? Are you trying to throw some tricky stuff in here just to mix me up?"

Then it was Carolyn's turn.

She also easily counted to thirty. She recognized her numbers up to 10. She knew all of her letters, except more than half of the lower case. She was able to sort numbers, match objects with values and knew all of her shapes. At least twice, she put her head down on the desk and said, "I've had enough of school. This really isn't very much fun for me."

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Then it was Elizabeth's turn.

Less than two minutes in to her assessment, she put her head down and said, "I don't want to do this anymore." I tried to encourage her that when she was done we'd go home and have lunch. We'd run through the sprinklers. We'd go to the zoo. We'd do whatever she wanted if she'd just ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.

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She very sweetly declined by saying that she was hungry, tired, hot, cold, needed a nap, had something in her shoe, needed to finish her taxes and track down a receipt for dependent care flexible spending, and LOOK there's a boo-boo on her finger!!

The teacher suggested we take a quick break while another student, who had been patiently waiting, complete their pre-assessment. As the new student came in and settled herself down next to the teacher, we ran outside and chased a ball, attempted to do a hulu hoop and then stood in stunned disbelief when a little boy, who was out for recess on the playground, wandered up to us and eyeing Henry said, "I like to think EVIL thoughts and I want to KILL YOUR BABY."

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Charlie dropped down to his eye level and said something about handcuffs and jail and the boy quickly changed the subject to how much he loved potato chips.

I took Elizabeth back inside and resumed the hot seat. She could count to thirteen. She didn't know her shapes. Didn't know any of her lower case letters, except "o" and was unable to quantify any objects.

Meanwhile, imagine me, standing to the side watching all of this, with an alarmed look on my face. Our kids know their numbers and letters and shapes and sounds. We work with them on this stuff ALL THE TIME.

Or so I thought?

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Whatever thoughts I had were totally drowned out by the voice in my head that was shouting, "You have failed your children!! This is a sign of things to come!!"

Oh good heavens. Why did I ever agree to return to work full-time?! Why did I take them out of Montessori?! Why did I think we could do this teaching stuff at home?!

Charlie is absolutely fantastic with the kids, but he does not work with them on school things as much as I do. Or the way I do. He has an altogether different technique - which is wonderful - except for when you're sitting in a classroom and their future teacher is quizzing them.

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Unfortunately, the teacher didn't have a single question about dinosaurs or meteorology or the difference between phaneritic and aphanitic, clay or silt. Because if she had, our children would have nailed it.

There is no doubt in my mind.

After another few minutes passed, the teacher could tell that Elizabeth wasn't engaged - nor would she become engaged - and she asked if I'd be interested to set up another assessment period? I wasn't. Because I feel confident that somewhere, deep down, my daughter knows. And if she doesn't, she'll learn.

This is just kindergarten, after all ... right??

As we were packing up our dignity things to leave, a little boy walked in for his pre-assessment. He was sporting a collared shirt with a big logo from one of the premier preschools in town. As he takes his seat next to the teacher, on his mother's lap, he crosses his arms, sticks out his tongue and scowls, "I don't like YOU. I don't like this PLACE. I'm not doing NUTTIN and YOU CAN'T MAKE ME."

While the teacher gave the boy a forced smile, the mother looked horrified. If it hadn't been totally inappropriate, I might have run over and planted a big kiss on the mother's cheek.

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Sister, you're not alone.

12 comments:

  1. Yes, it's only kindergarten. And yes, you've taught your children well. And yes, once they are in school (whether there or in Virginia) and they get in the swing of things they'll be fine. Of course, they don't want to "perform on demand" it's not been part of their lives before. It's normal; they're normal. I promise. Coming from a mom whose been there; done that.

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  2. Your kids are perfect! They were just behaving age appropriate! I’ll share with you some day my son’s first day of Kindergarten.
    I’m surprised William didn’t continue to engage his teacher to his way of thinking and discuss all those topics you mentioned, (don’t ask me to repeat what ever you said because I couldn’t but I know your kids could!)

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  3. I so feel ya on the pre-assesment. They did one when we went to register for kindergarten and there will be ANOTHER one on "orientation" day. Nadia was completely uninterested and so shy that all she would do was hide her face behind my arm and press her lips together. It's so frustrating! At home she counts, points out numbers, letters, shouts out directions "LEFT! RIGHT!" in the car... but put her in that chair and she's not making a PEEP!

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  4. Wait... we had that same teacher for our pre-assessment this morning... You mean her smile was FAKE? When she said MY boys were GREAT, GREAT, too, she didn't mean it?

    Dang.

    -Debbie

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  5. They sound like they are doing fine to me. If they alraedy knew all that stuff, you wouldn't need to send them to kindergarten AT ALL. That is what they will be learning IN kindergarten. Trust me on this one. I am a year ahead of you and much wiser. LMAO.

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  6. Ohhh man, that is too funny. My first two blazed their way through the pre-kindy assessment and I was basking in the glow of my awesome and proactive and conscientious parenting...and then there was my third. Who refused to speak anything but babytalk gibberish the ENTIRE. TIME. we were at her assessment. She was the one we knew to be the most 'book smart' of the kids so far, too. Go figure. The administrator giving the test was, how shall we say...unimpressed with us? Concerned for our childrens' welfare? A little disgusted at the end of 20 minutes of the same thing? All of the above? Yes, yes, and yes again. Ahh, kids. ;-) At least yours are adorable!!!

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  7. Aunt Grace4/9/10, 9:47 AM

    Well now, these children are EXTREMLY bright, did you show pictures of them swimming?? Did you tell her about the beautiful telephone manners, how about knowing whose shoes are thiers and where things belong in the house...any one can learn numbers and shapes, but look into the charecters of these children. They were just tired, that teacher needs to grow up.

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  8. LOL! I love this post! I felt the same way recently when I took the boys to the doctor...and they were quizzing them.

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  9. I wasn't going to comment, but as a kindergarten teacher myself I want to say just a few things (especially after reading some of the prior comments):

    First, you're right -- kids are funny with what they'll share and when, they usually know a whole lot more than they do share, and of course what they don't know they will learn (especially bright young kids like yours with supportive and caring parents).

    I've always enjoyed your blog posts, especially when you share all the neat thing you expose your kids to, and how learning is just part of what they do each day at your house. I think you're an Amazing Mom, to your Amazing Trips -- and Henry too : )

    I wouldn't give the assessment a second thought, but please keep in mind that good teachers know assessments are only a snapshot of that given moment, that some kids are shy, some kids feel weird in new situations, some kids don't like sharing what they know in that sort of format, or sharing if they feel like they're in the hot seat, etc., etc., Good teachers also know that learning and sharing is a process that takes time (and building positive relationships/building trust with 25(+) 5 and 6 year olds (and their parents) takes time too, and though there is a lot you can tell in 15mn there's a lot you can't either. And finally, there is SO MUCH that teachers are told they have to do (state and national standards), and they have to start somewhere, to kind of get an idea of where the students are at -- with the basics. Most teachers are truly trying their best to get through what they have to, help lots and lots of little kid (and their parents) feel comfortable and hopefully enjoy this required assessment before school even begins. It's a lot for everyone! : )

    LOVE your hubby's comment to the kid on the playground!

    Have a great weekend : )
    Jeremi

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  10. Geez, I can't even believe they do TESTING in Kindergarten!

    I don't think our kids get tested until third grade! haha.

    So...pretty much some parents don't send their kids to school until third grade! HA.

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  11. I have driven by the 'office' in VA many times. right near the 50... Absolutely loved the schools in VA and the people are incredible. (got to live in the right district though). Took me about 2 years for VA's weather not to suck so much (compared to San Diego) but I would move back there in a heartbeat now!
    I'm very excited for you!

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  12. I am conveniently ignoring all references to Virginia.

    That was a funny post, especially Elizabeth's turn. I can almost hear her mind churning "we do this stuff every single day and NOW you want me to perform as well!"

    Oh and the small child terrorist - makes me wonder is he watches too much tv or is learning it from his parents??

    I still remember when we had our nephews visiting, 4 and 2 1/2 at the time. We had bedded them down in their sleeping bags in front of the tv. Yes I know my bad. One of the many versions of Law and Order came on. I quickly jumped to phone my sister "is it OK if they watch this??" "Yes, remember their dad is a police officer?, they hear about this stuff all the time." Oh that's right you and Keith just go back to enjoying your kid free time. : )

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