The beginning of my experience on the other side of Public Education. You know, the “Mom” side. Our little Monkey is headed to Kindergarten.
We attended our first ‘Meet the Teacher’ on Friday afternoon. His teacher seemed young…but aren’t they all? I think she’s probably a good match up for the Monkey, though. When she saw him in the hallway goofing around with one of his best buddies from pre-school, she grinned and said “So, are you two going to be my trouble-makers this year?”
Monkey grinned and shrugged, “Yep.” His response was so matter of fact and without hesitation it seemed as if he had been planning it for the entire summer.
In the ‘Parent, please do this’ packet I found some Parent Homework. The worksheet is about “ getting to know your child”. We are supposed to complete and return by the end of this week. It is a three to four page work sheet with ‘hypothetical’ and general statements. You are supposed to read the statement and then rank your child as ‘always-sometimes-never’ by circling numbers one through five that correspond with how the child responds. There is also an essay section for you to provide additional details you think are relevant or where specific skills the child exhibits may be a ‘needs help’ with or are ‘behaviors to understand’, etc.
My initial thought was this is great! I have the opportunity to give them information up front. How cool is that? Do I get parent extra-credit or bonus points?! I started to read through it and I want to answer ‘yes’ to each one. Truthfully, it really is always, sometimes AND never in varying degrees on any given day. There is no prescription to how these things go with a five year old. As I continued reading through the general question/statements printed on the inviting soft lavender colored paper I got to thinking.
This is a scam.
Don’t get me wrong, I realize they have a bunch of kids to deal with and having some up front information MIGHT be helpful. BUT…
Call me idealistic. I REALLY want the teacher to take the time to learn about my child by getting to know him. Learning about what works with him, what motivates him and what doesn’t. Certainly he will have to learn about her, as well. What she tolerates, what she doesn’t, etc.
First of all, I don’t think the three page worksheet will cover it for the very same reason I want to answer ‘yes’ to all the questions. He’s pretty clever so I think even if I provided all the “inside” information, I am doubtful that these statements/questions even touch the surface of what he is all about let alone how he might respond. Sometimes even I am surprised at his responses. Last week while talking to him about something I felt required explanation he interrupted me mid sentence with “Yeah, Mom…blah, blah, blah…I get it.”
This response doesn’t get me too upset even though I would prefer he not talk back OR interrupt me, issues we continue to work on. But, I do recognize that I can be verbose at times. I also recognize that, as the parent, I can appear to talk down to him. He grasps things quickly without having to be given infinite examples. In fact sometimes he will have some of his own fun by letting me go on and on and I look up to see him smiling at me with that big ‘gotcha’ grin. Maybe he understands sarcasm a little too well.
He’s an extremely energetic but yet very focused boy. He says the blessing at dinner and enjoys pretending to be a Clone Officer from the Clone Wars running all over the house yelling “Battle stations, Battle Stations!” and making shooting noises from his imaginary laser blaster weapon. He makes sure that he hugs the family dog, Belle, before leaving for the day. He enjoys standing on the fireplace playing air guitar pretending to be a Rock Star and he loves to gently plink the keys on the piano as he composes his own little sonatas. He can be polite, soft-spoken, sensitive and caring. And there are times when he is demanding, temperamental, sarcastic and rude. After receiving his punishment one afternoon for doing whatever it was he wasn’t supposed to be doing, he dropped into his chair with an “humph!”. Brows furrowed, arms crossed in an indignant tone he states “didn’t see THAT coming”. Trust me, neither did I! Out of the mouths of babes…
The real question for me is how do they use this worksheet? Do they even read the responses? What do they do with this information? Do they take this ambiguous information and pre-dispose a child to certain behavior pattern just because that’s the way the parent answered it?
More importantly, does it really matter? He won’t be the same with his new teacher in a classroom of his peers as he is with me and his Dad sitting at home playing Mario Kart on the Wii, taunting his dad with ”ok, big man…bring it! This will be like taking candy from a baby!”
I expect that my child will have good days and bad days. He will be the star student, the class ham and the trouble-maker, often any of them interchangeably on any given day. He’s a five year old boy.
In spite of the possible motive for this parent homework printed on the inviting soft lavender copy paper, there really isn’t any definitive path to getting to understand him except to give him respect, give him boundaries and teach.
Maybe that’s all I have to write on that worksheet …or write nothing at all. It will all be clear soon enough.