Sunday, May 31, 2009

The class gift

Placing the twins in separate kindergarten classes was a no brainer for us. One, the outgoing extrovert, we surmised, would only smother the introverted shy one if they shared a class. There is something to be said, though, for having your twins in the same class. One teacher, one set of homework assignments, one class project, and one teacher's gift.

We're nearing the end of the year and the teacher's gift has become the primary topic of conversation. The room parents in my daughter's class had this all worked out at Christmas. They are putting together a scrapbook with a 2-page spread for each kid. It's to include photos, drawings, stickers, anything the child wants, and it should have a completed questionnaire about how the child feels about kindergarten in the child's own handwriting. I am the room parent for my son's class, and we just copied the idea set forth by the parents in my daughter's class. Here's what we made:

We made one for my daughter's class too:

What they wrote about their kindergarten experience made me pause. My daughter (T2) said that her teacher taught her she could do anything. My son (T1) said that his teacher made him happy. Interestingly, he said this after he first said that he couldn't think about anything to say about his teacher.

"What's something nice about him," I said.

"He's not nice," he says. "He's mean." What's mean about a kindergarten teacher? I'm not sure if he's trying to cause me to say in alarm, "Oh, he's not mean" or if he's really had a hard time of it in kindergarten. Ultimately he says:

"... Mr. S. makes me feel happy."

I look at my two very different children with very different personalities and I know that T2 feels she can do anything. Will T1 be happy in school or will teachers be constantly disciplining him?

Friday, May 29, 2009

Why Are You Doing This?

I find myself here at the end of May about to put the cap on a year-long sabbatical, during which I was able to stay home with my kids who are finishing their kindergarten year. This presents me with an odd dilemma. I'm ready to go back to work intellectually; I do miss my students and the collegiality of working with other professors on a college campus, but I'm wondering if the transition will take its toll on my kids. Both have really grown up this year. They're learning social skills that are hard to learn in a home environment, like "why do I have to color a school bus when there's so much fun to be had with my new friends?", and "holding up two fingers to indicate that I have to go to the bathroom? What's up with that?" They're becoming well-versed in the structures of many social institutions including group conversations, school environments, and playground etiquette.

I was here when they had questions about what happened at school. We could work on homework after lunch and still have the afternoon for free playing and extra curricular activities. When I go back to work, will I still be able to give them this level of attention? I've worked full time since they were born. I've had nannies and daycare, which were wonderful in their early childhood development, but school years are different. And this year was different. Time will tell what will happen as I am willing to explore here.