August 31, 2014
Natalie's 1st Week of Kindergarten
I have had a very hard week letting go of my little baby and Natalie too has had a long hard week adjusting to all of the changes made in her life. She is going to my school so I am able to take her to school with me, walk her to class every day, teach her in music class and even check up on her from time to time. This is a privilege that most parents would not have and I am beyond grateful for this opportunity. However, this also means that I am able to see and know a lot more about her, her classmates and classroom than most parents as well.
I chose to put Natalie with a phenomenal kindergarten teacher who has been teaching for 11 years and even won Teacher of the Year for our school last year. Needless to say, SHE IS AMAZING! However, this teacher is on maternity leave for the 1st 2 weeks of school so this made for a very interesting opening week of school. The clientele and overall atmosphere of this school is not at all what I expected and pictured in my mind when I pictured where I would be placing my baby for kindergarten. The school I taught at in Shawnee was a very small and community oriented campus. In fact, it was basically started by rich doctors and lawyers who didn't want their kids in the "public" aspect of school back in the early 1900's. It had a "private" school feeling and was very prestigious in and around Shawnee. This is where I thought of when I dreamed many dreams of Natalie (and Luke too) in kindergarten. My eyes were awakened on Monday as I saw a much different picture.
Not necessarily a worse picture but just different. The kids in her class come from all different walks of life. Some are living with grandparents or other family members and have not seen their real parents in years. Some, on the other hand, have never left mom's side not even for daycare or preschool and this is their very 1st taste of real school. While still others have been in school before, in fact some in this exact school for Pre-K where they had 3-5 different teachers and even more subs throughout the 2013-2014 school year and are starting the year off with yet another sub. Natalie's class has 17 children in it 10 of which are boys. The remaining 7 are girls but 5 of those are "sun-burnt" (African-American) as Natalie told me and are playing really well with each other but are not very inviting to Natalie and the other non-sun burnt girl in her class. Each day this week when I asked Natalie about playing and making new friends she said "they didn't want me or Allison (name has been changed) to play with them". I almost feel as if Natalie is the one being segregated.
On Tuesday as Natalie and I were making our commute back home Natalie told me that she had not made any friends because "the kids in my class are all acting bad and you told me not to play or hang out with the bad ones mommy". This just made me cry and cry (and cry) as this is in fact what I told her to do, knowing the situation at this school, but it still didn't make me feel any better. I cried and cried that evening thinking about changing her classes/ teacher to help get a better start and in hopes that maybe there would be more girls in that class or just a different classroom environment possible. However, after talking with a dear friend and fellow kindergarten teacher I decided to stick it out and give her real teacher a chance when she gets back in Mid-September.
On Wednesday Natalie seemed to have a great day and told me that she was able to play with a girl from her class last year at West Conroe Baptist Dayschool during recess. Unfortuneatly this little girl is not in Natalie's class but is across the hall and Natalie sees her frequently at recess and PE time so I felt better knowing Natliae was not all alone.
On Thursday as the kindergarteners came to SPECIALS time in the gym I was able to really observe how Natalie interacted with the others in her class. On this day she was in the back of the line and had to sit far in the back of the gym. I noticed that as other students got in trouble for not listening or pay attention they were moved to the back near her. Natalie too was beginning to not pay attention and make bad decisions. She was distracted the whole classtime and while she reamined on GREEN the rest of the day I knew I had to talk to her and explain distractions and how to avoid them. I also learned on this day that this class was so far behind because there is a sub and the kids were taking so much of this sub's attention that the learning environment was lacking that the Pre-K classes are already ahead of them and are tracing and writing letters. I have not seen anything of the such come home in Natalie's folder. In fact, I spent the majority of 2 of my own planning times setting up a binder for Natalie to use to practice writing letters while she waits for me after school each day.
On Friday, after the 2 hour long talk and tear session with Natalie on Thursday evening, she was much better in SPECIALS time and completed her 1st week in kindergarten on SOLID GREEN. She even got to go to the treasure box. Her substitute teacher told me that she was very smart and got all of her work done and then went and helped the rest of the class finish theirs. My response to him was "She better be good".
I have cried about this situation every night this week with thoughts ranging from 1. Quit teaching and home school them both to 2. Put her back in the private day school until next year BUT I have prayed and decided to continue to stick it out and wait to see what happens at the end of the 1st grading period at the end of September after the real teacher has returned.
Natalie is a very smart, bright and socially advanced child but this will be a learning experience for us all. Not to mention a "trust issue" for me! Despite this week being emotionally tormenting to me, I have found some peace in knowing that every mom has gone through at least some of what I am going through and this is just part of growing up!
I have always been incredibly close to my late grandfather and I learned today that he would have told me "Pray about it, pray some more and then keep praying". Well Grandpa... That is exactly what I am going to do!
I will update y'all in 5 weeks! I appreciate and covet your prayers!
God is good... ALL the time!