Throwing them in head first

Like everyone else with children ready to start school next year, I was anxiously waiting to see if Eirinn’s school, at which we have already registered, would be selected as one of the 600 schools in Ontario to “offer” full day kindergarten.  It was. 

Am.  Not.  Happy.

While I understand that our situation is unique, my mom being our daycare provider, I’m struggling to see the benefit to all of this.  I mean, I can see that it would work for some people – those who couldn’t afford daycare before and can now find work while their child is at school – but the more I’m reading about it and discussing it with other parents and thinking about it, the more I don’t like this.  Every positive about this plan seems to be a benefit to the parent, not the child, which is who we should be thinking about.

Isn’t the whole point of kindergarten to transition our children into school?  Full day, every day is not a transition; it’s throwing them in head first without a life jacket, just hoping that they’ll swim.  Eirinn has an early birthday (March 7th), but there are many children born in September, October, November and December who will be 3 years old starting kindergarten, all day every day.  Three years old.  They’ll still be babies. 

To put them into a classroom of 26 children (the new class size) with a teacher they’re not familiar with is asking too much, in my opinion.  Too much of the child and also too much of the teacher.  I can barely handle two children for the whole day; I have no idea how one (or two, if they have a teacher’s aide) can handle that many.  I guess that’s why they get paid the big bucks.  Oh, wait.  They don’t.

Eirinn, especially, needed that transition, which used to be every other day.  She’s unique in that she has never been in the care of anyone but family.  Ever.  She’s never been to a daycare in the traditional sense.  Never been to preschool.  She’s never even had a non-family member babysit her in the evenings or on weekends.  The transition would have eased her into the idea that she has to listen and follow instructions from someone else.

I have read that sending them for the full day might be optional.  I question what they’ll be missing when they’re not at school.  Will not sending them all day cause them to fall behind?  If we opt to not send them all day every day, are we choosing to send them half days?  Every other day?  What kind of chaos will that cause for the teachers?  All questions I’ll soon be asking of her school.

Another option would be to send her to a school that was uneffected for kindergarten and switch her back for Grade 1.  But I don’t like the idea of pulling her away from friends she spent two years making and out of a school she will be used to.  Sure, we did it when we were younger, but just because we did it doesn’t mean it was easy.  I’m also not a huge fan of the public school in our area and the proximity to the Catholic elementary school and high school is one of the reasons we bought our house in the first place.  But…it’s another option to think about.

I’m sure she’ll be fine because she’s Eirinn and she always is.  This business about her needing time to adjust is probably just us adults needing time to adjust to her being old enough to be going to school.  Sure, she’ll miss her Baba, but she’ll still see her before and after school.  And I’m pretty sure the frequency of sleepovers will increase.

Another problem will be that it’s going to be a struggle getting her to and from school, given that the kids my mom looks after go to public school, which is bussed at the end of her street, and Eirinn will be going to Catholic school, which isn’t.  And they both start and finish at the same time, while I’m at work.  Luckily I’m close to both her school and my mom’s house, so I’m going to have to use my breaks to drop her off and pick her up everyday.  We’ll figure something out that works.  We have no choice.

I just wish things would have been left alone.  I’m not sure why it wasn’t working before and who it wasn’t working for.  As I saw it, it seemed to be just fine the way it was, but no one ever asked me what I thought about it.

But what do I know?  I’m just a mom with a little girl starting school next year.

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13 thoughts on “Throwing them in head first

  1. I’ve wondered that myself, do they really need to go to school everyday all day long?? Seems that schools are becoming more and more like daycares without the stringent rules attached to them. Now there is junior kindergarten when there never was, all day instead of half days or every other day. Snow days when the school is open anyway for parents that don’t have daycare options. The school becomes mayhem with kindergarten to grade 6’s playing together in the gym, how is that a proper way of running a school. A daycare would be shut down for the same conditions.

    • I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what most parents will view this change as – free daycare. Which…fine. But what about those who don’t need it? I don’t know. Thus far, I am not a fan.

  2. Jennifer – what a great post today! I am in complete agreement with you about the full day every day for Kindergarten.

    Carson – who is in JK right now loves school, and is an April baby, and adjusted just fine to his half days…in fact it was a really easy transition. That being said I am not sure that the same would have been true if he was in school all day every single day. While he loves school, he equally loves coming home and having lunch and playing during the afternoon – or just being able to be at home and relax.

    I agree in your thinking that this seems to have been done in the best interest on the adults not the kids.

    Hannah will be only 3 next year when she enters into JK… she is mature and confident for a 3 year old BUT that being said does she really need to go to school full days when I am at home to take care of her in the afternoons?

    I am guessing that some familes will find this ideal – in a situation where the child is already out of the house all day while the parents work – but not every family is the same.

    Luckily my local school is not one that was picked to be all day.

    I think that you should definatly start asking the questions that you mentioned to your school (about what if anything she will miss if only put in school part-time). Good lunck Jennifer and let me know if you need anything – if only an ear to listen to you vent!!!!

    • I think our school was picked because of the smaller population. I think (but am not sure) that the Catholic schools have fewer kids, so they could accomodate the increase in kids.

      I will definitely take you up on the venting-ear offer!

    • Oh noes! You just reminded me that they have naps at school! Eirinn hasn’t voluntarily taken a nap since 2008. The teacher will DEFINITELY need to slip something into Eirinn’s drink if she expects my kid to sleep. Or even be quiet, for that matter.

  3. Ok, for real… I’m SO glad I’m not the only one wondering what the heck the benefit is for 4 year olds going to school so much. THANKFULLY my daughter’s school is one that isn’t affected yet… but Sept. 2011 I’ll be biting my nails to see what’s going to happen for my son…. he’ll be still only 3 (born Dec. 1st). And then 2013, my other son Ethan will almost for sure be affected. This is just.not.right. I’m looking for different options.

    • I’m absolutely looking into the other options. Hopefully there are some, and not just all or nothing. She’s so excited for school. I wish I could be, too, but there’s just so much to worry about!

  4. Naps at school – whatever…I would think that the vast majority of kids do not voluntarily nap anymore by the time they are 4 years old! I am having a laugh though at picturing them trying to get Eirinn to have a nap!!! I wish them luck (I am basing this on the fact that Eirrinn seems pretty much the same as Hannah).

    I hope that you can find another option!

  5. ok, i’m old enough to remember going to j/k and s/k and taking the little blue mat out of the corner and putting it in the middle of the room to have nap time! We played all day, coloured, painted, had story time. None of this learning nonsense. Kindergarten back then was just daycare, really. We didn’t learn our ABCs until Grade 1.

    My oldest is now in Grade One. She went to both J/K and S/K with the same teacher every other day (M, W and alternate Fridays). The other days she was in daycare.

    Grade one for her obviously is all day every day. It was a hard transition at first for the first two weeks but after that it became routine.

    Lexy had issues going to school at the beginning back in kindergarten, she spent most of the time in the VPs office. This year I thought she was doing great until just this week when she bit a kid’s head and pulled out some of his hair, punched another kid and basically just talking back all week long. She’s been like this since Christmas Break. I think this has more to do with the stress at home with her dad being sick and everything.

    Caity will go to school next year as she only turns 3 in a couple of weeks. Our school, if we stay with it is on the part time full days schedule, no plans to go all day every day yet.

    i agree, they’re too little to go head first.

    I just don’t know what the right answer is.

    • I also remember kindergarten basically being just for fun. I don’t recall specifically, but I’m sure we didn’t have to know the alphabet and how to spell our name and all that before we started.

  6. As a teacher I am against full day JK. I totally agree with you that it should be a transition. Children ages 3-4 are way too small to be so routined, going to school all day, every day! I think a large part of it is that they are looking at it as free babysitting. Yes, it’s great that you can save money on childcare, but at what cost?

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