When I was teaching, I swore that when I had kids I wouldn’t be that mom. Hyper-involved, helicopter-parent mom. The one who thinks her precious spawn is just so-supah smaht and needs more attention.
But here we are.
My daughter really loves structured lessons based on themes. And so, with mixed feelings about the very concept of preschool, I decided to enroll her two days a week for two and a half hours each session.
After the first day of preschool, I noticed they were writing her name on her paper. She knows how to write her name. So I told her next time she could say if she wished, “Thank you for helping me but I would like to write my own name.” And the next session, she came back with her own scrawl on the paper. Good job, kiddo.
Generally, I would prefer to stay out of things and let her work them out with some parental advice and guidance. At the same time, I am also very afraid of her getting bored in school. I got bored in school at a very young age and the results were not pretty.
I got on the horn the other day to request that if they must do dittos in preschool (which I’m not all that fond of to begin with) could my daughter could do dittos more in-line with her skill level.
For example, on her letter ditto, she is supposed to “color in” the letter–but I know she can already write the letter, identify words beginning with the letter, sound out words with that letter in them, etc. Or on another, she had to trace a pre-drawn dotted line connecting an animal with where it lives (right across from the matching animal)…why not have her free-draw a line to match the two? These are things she already does at home.
First, the teacher justified their use of dittos by saying they will have to do dittos in kindergarten.
Ummm…but she’s three. Should I hand my one year old a ditto based on that theory?
Ultimately this issue is besides the point, though, because although I’m not thrilled with dittos, my daughter thinks they are fun…so let her enjoy her dittos…can we just match her level a little more closely.
The answer to this was that they were all reviewing. That some of the kids don’t even know what it means to trace.
I’m sorry but that brought out Mama Bear. I don’t really care what the other kids do or do not know. We’re talking about my kid. Not the other kids.
I replied that as a former classroom teacher, I recognize the challenge of differentiating instruction for different skill levels. HOWEVER, these are DITTOS. Dittos already DONE INDEPENDENTLY. I’m not asking them to change their curriculum. Just PHOTOCOPY ANOTHER WORKSHEET ON THE SAME TOPIC.
I also recognize that I will be beating my head up against a one-size-fits-all system throughout my children’s lives, whatever their ability levels. However this is a private preschool, for which I pay. And I purposely chose a Montessori school because of the emphasis on independent exploration. And they have a mixed class of three to five year olds…so they are presumably already differentiating.
At this point, I feel like the teacher thinks I am pushing academics. And please, believe me when I say I am not. There are no baby flash cards, baby educational videos, or any bionic-super-duper-baby paraphernalia in my house. In fact, I’d rather her go outside and play more, or wriggle her fingers in some playdough, or finger paint, than do any dittos at all. I just don’t want her to get bored doing dittos she already knows how to do.
She assured me that most of their time was spent playing outside or indoors on the mat with the Montessori materials. She promised they would be “evaluating” (shudder … but that’s a whole ‘nother rant) the kids and differentiating soon.
As I hung up the phone, I thought about the absurdity of questioning the pedagogical tactics of teachers who spend a combined total of 5 hours a week with my child, when I spend the other 163 with her.
And I realized that yes, I have become that parent.
I guess, somewhere deep inside, maybe I always knew I was that parent. I just didn’t think the transformation would happen so very quickly.
Photo Credit: Mike Baird