Monday, August 25, 2008

What will the kindergarten teacher do when my child ... ?

Back in January, the superintendent of the local school district came to our house to attend the estate sale before we moved in. Upon learing we were homeschoolers, he and his wife tried to sell me on the merits of the public elementary school. His wife seemed to think I would be interested in how cutely it is decorated* (as if) and he told me who was his best kindergarten teacher, Mrs. P. (sorry for the kids who aren't in her class). He could have gained some valuable market research and may have even been able to help me realize his points better had he asked me a thing, but he did all the talking.

Because I was taught by his type of system not to be bold and assert myself with authority, I just nodded and sold them a decorative oak shelf. Here's what I wish I would have asked the superintendent about his star kindergarten teacher, Mrs. P.:
  • Will Mrs. P. sit down with my daughter on her lap and read her really good stories every day? Will she welcome each question, even if it's right in the middle of the story?
  • When Addy is inspired by an idea, will she drop the day's lesson plan (or the week's or month's!) and dive right into it head first?
  • Will she base the curriculum on what excites Addy and helps her develop as a person, or will she be so worried about meeting state standards in specific areas that the life is drained out of it?
  • Can Dori come to the classroom every day, too, and take a spot right next to Addy so they can love and learn from each other, developing the kind of deep relationship sisters should?
  • Will she clear her classroom from the typical pop culture icons that send the wrong messages to developing young minds?
  • Will children in her classroom value people before things, self-esteem over group acceptance, words over fists? How about on the playground? On the bus? Little children are learning and need loving guidance every time. Will Mrs. P. be there on the bus, in the lunchroom and on the playground to provide it?
  • Will she uphold our family's values?
  • Will she spend all the time Addy needs to learn a concept without ever rushing her, labeling her or sending her off to a special classroom? Is she willing to drop months of lesson plans if Addy is ready to zoom on to something new?
  • Will she promise to never squelch Addy's love of learning by filling her time with busywork? Can she promise not to make her wait to be called on when she is eager with a question or idea?
  • Will she come to my home so she can continue to discuss what they're learning at the dinner table, in the car and at bedtime?
  • What will she say when Addy asks the hard questions, about God, or sex, or dying?

I really do want to know these sorts of things. I am very open to hearing from others, even if (maybe especially if?) they disagree with me.

* I was at the school for a public event. Behind a cute facade and inviting lobby, office and board room, down the hallways I saw cinderblock walls, solid steel doors and cold lockers. Not that I care.


Moxie Mommy said...

Every time I read your blog I smile. I love your outlook and thought processes. Yay for you. :)

Michelle R said...

this is beautiful Sue. thank you so much for writing it. I will bookmark it and if ever I start to doubt myself and my decisions I will return and re-read it.