Posts Tagged With: school

last week of school got me like

Last week of school got me like

Here are my yays and boos for the last week of school.

First the boos.
1. It’s still freaking raining. (Up yours, mother nature.)
2. State Farm SUCKS! (Yes, there is still a hole in our f**king house.)
3. Low barometric pressure headache won’t cut me any slack. (Though you cannot see it, here’s the back of my middle finger.)
4. Elementary school is in full on ‘Lord of the Flies mode’. (Wanted you to know just in case you never hear from me again.)

Now the yays.
1. Headache is not debilitating! (‘Alternative’ medicine FTW!)
2. Thing G passed the Yoda-speak final! (Hot damn!)
3. Girls arrive tomorrow! (OMGEEEE!! Cannot wait to squeeze them!!!!)
4. YBW found and ordered me a brand new ipod classic! (Yaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!)
5. Graduation Thursday! (So! Many! Feels!)
6. Early dismissal Friday! (last day of school)

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shouting from my soapbox

I saw an article this morning on Scary Mommy: Our Kids Don’t Need F@*#ing Pedal Desks, They Need Recess.
A Kentucky kindergarten teacher got a $12,000.00 grant to install ‘pedal desks’ in her classroom for (wait for it…) “when kindergartners get tired of sitting still.”

I BEG YOUR PARDON!?! (or: WHAT THE EVER-LOVING F**K!?!)
Kindergartners are five and six years old! Five and six! Is there ever a time when they DO sit still? They need to move their bodies! Their brain development relies on that!! How can they be expected to learn anything ‘strapped’ to a desk?
Is this simply another example of the misunderstanding about recess? Recess is about social interactions and imaginative play in addition to movement and exercise. Some of the most important social-emotional development happens when children play together freely.
Recess is a time for unstructured play. Children learn to respect and appreciate each other’s feelings by cooperating and taking turns. They understand that there is a natural give and take to play. If play is designed by one child and doesn’t evolve in a way the all the children like, two things can happen. They’ll either walk away which forces the change in play or they will discuss the changes they’d like to see. More often than not, the entire group will work together to create play that pleases everyone. These children practice negotiation and cooperation without even realizing it.
I’ve focused on social and emotional development and completely ignored the benefits of play to gross and fine motor development. But that seems more obvious to me.

Children need to move their bodies fairly regularly! I’m forty four years old and need to move mine often!
A classroom can and should be a place where you can move about and have different kinds of learning centers.
I know it’s hard to “meet each child where s/he is” but it’s easy to create a safe and authentic learning environment where students and teachers can move their bodies to help the teaching and learning process.

I started kindergarten in our country’s bicentennial year. I realize things have changed since then.
I remember my kindergarten class had a housekeeping area, a “writing center”, dress-ups, blocks and interlocking bricks for math. Sometimes we sat in chairs at big tables and other times we sat in a circle “Indian style” on carpet squares. We got read to and we honed our social skills through play. I could already read and write when I started kindergarten, but that’s just me. I remember loving being at school. It was fun and I actually realized I was learning. I was in half-day kindergarten and there was time for learning, snack, AND recess!

Thing 1 and Thing 2 had individual desks and chairs in their kindergarten classes. But they were grouped into fours in the center of the room to make room for the play based learning centers. Interestingly they were similar to the ones I talked about in my kindergarten classroom. There was a math center with big and little blocks and clocks to play with. I loved that! Little and big hands to move around the numbers. There was a writing center with crayons and markers and colored pencils. (Any scribbling is the beginning of writing.) There was a little kitchen and a mirror and babies.
Thing 1 was in kindergarten twenty three years after I was and there was still learning through play in kindergarten classrooms. Her teacher told me: I need them to walk into my classroom and be able to recognize their name and write it in some way that I can read it, even if it’s not right. I need them to be able to recognize number up to twenty. I need them to know their colors. The rest is up to me and the first grade teachers.
Thing 1 could do all those things, even though she wrote her nine letter name in a mix of capital and lower case letters. She was already reading a little. She was the only white girl in a class of nineteen kids. I was thrilled that she was going to experience that much diversity!
(There were 33 countries represented in our elementary school of 500 students.)

From the pedal desk article:

“Our kids need recess, not pedal desks so they can move while they work like little bots. Seriously, is this real life? Why are kindergartners even sitting in one place long enough to need pedal desks? That’s a question we should be asking ourselves.”

I believe in asking that question. But the people answering it are not educators. They don’t know what’s best for children. Here’s a thought: what if we have educators creating curriculum and education policy? Politicians designing this country’s curriculum can’t see past test scores. Gotta keep up with the Chinese and all that rot.
But in Peter Gray’s article, Give childhood back to children: if we want our offspring to have happy, productive and moral lives, we must allow more time for play, not less, he writes:

“Educators in East Asian nations have increasingly been acknowledging the massive failure of their educational systems. According to the scholar and author Yong Zhao, who is an expert on schools in China, a common Chinese term used to refer to the products of their schools is gaofen dineng, which essentially means good at tests but bad at everything else. Because students spend nearly all of their time studying, they have little opportunity to be creative, discover or pursue their own passions, or develop physical and social skills. Moreover, as revealed by a recent large-scale survey conducted by British and Chinese researchers, Chinese schoolchildren suffer from extraordinarily high levels of anxiety, depression and psychosomatic stress disorders, which appear to be linked to academic pressures and lack of play.”

What’s sad is teachers have no real choice. This woman was trying to make the school day better for FIVE and SIX year olds(!!) while accomplishing the unrealistic and inappropriate goal the government set for when these children leave her classroom.
There is something inherently wrong with this country’s education system. How many lives will be negatively impacted before something changes?
Childhood was snatched away from children. They’re forced to learn and do things at ages when their brains aren’t actually developed to do them. This skips natural and necessary building processes in the brain! And they can’t go play!
My heart breaks.
And my hackles go up!

Categories: education, love, me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

cheer up cheerily

It has been a…what’s the word…curious(?) couple of weeks. I have been completely overworked at school, and editing that book, as well as finishing up my school term, not to mention still trying to process my personal feelings about my little friend whose mother died.
But(!) the curiousness is actually the best part!

nest

Robin birds in the spring are a SUPER big deal for me, (Gee, I can’t imagine why.) but since my mom died, I’ve not seen them anywhere near as frequently or in as great of numbers as it seems I always have in the past….and if I have seen one, I’ve been with either Thing 2 or YBW only.
A part of me was relieved I wasn’t seeing them in great big amounts because it was painful, made me miss my Mommie, but a part of me was disappointed, because it is one of my favorite “rites of Spring”. My theory was “God” (by whatever gender or name) kind of knew I wasn’t ready, that was why the sightings were so few and far between, or I was with those particular people.
This year however, I have seen more robin birds than I have been able to count! They’re EVERYWHERE! Even with all this snow, they’re flying and chirping and skibbling all around on the lawns. My joy is immense at hearing their “cheerily cheer up cheer up cheerily”!
It must be time. Either I’m finally healing on own, or Mommie is ‘up there’ pulling strings to make me heal (Of course she would still be trying to boss me around.)

The second ‘wonderful’ aspect of the curious is YBW. I had a total crap day yesterday and he just happened to be home when I came home for lunch, I honestly can’t remember the last time I was that happy to see anyone. He hugged me and I just breathed in his scent and felt so much better straightaway …I was instantly safe and comforted and so very grateful. I was just enough to bolster me to get through the rest of my day.

I went to see the holistic doc and he was worried about my appearance, when I told him I was just worn out, he was worried it was the book. No, my job…the strangest thing…he offered me a job right on the spot! I thought and thought about it…made the pro and con list in my head, talked with Sundance and YBW about it then went to school this morning and met with my director (For three hours!) discussed where my ‘heart is’, made plans for positive changes. I walked into her office completely devoid of hope and walked out three hours later quite full.
Got an email with a new chapter for the book with a note asking me to let him know about the position. I’m going to decline…I know how to run the office because I did it for my doctor before I came here, and it is very seductive to receive all that free healthcare, and there are so many positives, but there are negatives, too…but ultimately, it isn’t where my heart is.
If I am going to leave my school I need to do it in a mindful way, not a reactionary way. I’m not ready yet, my time there isn’t finished.

The robin birds are singing just for me, “cheer up cheerily”.

Oh! P.S. YBW and I are going to the beach the day after tomorrow! Hello, Jewish Mother for breakfast! Yay for YBW and yay for the mini break!

Categories: me | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

a week in the life…may I please have a “do-over”?

So preschool still seems to fit me ill…

This frustrates me to no end! I am struggling to bring structure into the classroom, I’m struggling with two year olds who just haven’t experienced the type of routine and expectations I’m bringing with me.
I met with the director again today to voice my concerns…she pointed out the drastic changes in that room since my arrival…she is willing to provide everything on my “wish list”…she needs me and continues to champion what I bring not only to the classroom, but the twos program at large.
And while this is nice…I honestly know what I’m bringing and I can tell you I bring it like a boss! I learned from some pretty amazing teachers. (I’m not bragging, I’m being honest.)

YBW suggested after an almost 10 year break in teaching two year olds, perhaps that ship has sailed…that maybe, just maybe that’s not where I “am” anymore. That even though my heart loves that age, I may be in a different place and it just might not fit me anymore.
I’ve been considering this…my degree is secondary education…this means middle and high school…perhaps it’s time to embrace the teenagers of the world and leave the two year olds to those more currently equipped?
Perhaps I need to give it a little more time. I can feel it easing up…I’m just not on target…of course school only started three weeks ago. I need to cut myself some slack. They’re going to get it as I teach and model it…I need to remember to be kind to myself.
Preschool will be fun once we get our groove on.

And then:

Thing 2 dropped the biggest baddest bomb on me Thursday. “I’m just so done, Mom!”
This means she has decided to no longer consider me as her mother…she isn’t coming to her home here…she doesn’t want me to contact her…she doesn’t want me to “try and take care of” her.

Tears.
Confusion.
Pain.
Anguish.
Tears.
Anger.
Heartbreak.

She says it’s because she “has spent (her) whole life taking care of (me). That (she) has been responsible for (my) happiness and has never been able to do anything, (she) always had to be too perfect and a good kid to please (me). Because (I) told her she was my favorite person in the world, that put too much pressure on (her) and (she) has decided (she’s) unwilling to do it any more.”

WTF?
So much for 16 years of positive relationship…so much for making sure I’ve spent my entire adult life working to do what was best for her (and her sister) .
I am hurt and confused and want to understand how this came about.

My “sister” Sundance told me her Girlie Thing said, “Is Thing 2 mad Aunt Roby moved to YBW’s house? I think I would be if you did that.”
Sundance asked, “Enough to make you not want me to be your mommy?”
Girlie Thing said, “I that what Thing 2 said? No Mommy, that’s not Thing 2, someone else said that first.”

My friend and mentor said, “For the first time in my life, I am literally speechless.” (If y’all knew her you’d understand the seriousness of that statement.) She agrees with my niece, that Thing 2 is “seeing through someone else’s lenses”.

YBW cried with me and said, “I’m not as sad as you are, but I am so very sad.”
He holds my hand quite a little bit more lately because the sadness comes and goes suddenly and without warning. Today he was snuggling with his own Thing 2 and I had to leave the room because I couldn’t watch it…I was already feeling so sad.

The theory is she’ll sort her shit (pardon my French) and come back to me.
My thinking brain understands and mostly agrees, my feeling brain (heart?) can’t seem to go there.

My friend and mentor says, “You raised her well, she’s going to figure out how to see through her own lenses again and she will come back to you. And there you will be with open arms.”

Yes, my arms will be open…will my broken heart ever be able to trust my baby again?
If wishing makes it so…

Categories: education, loss, love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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