Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Big Brains

Since we don't have anything else to do, we have decided to make ourselves crazy trying to figure out what to do about school for Viva. I think I've mentioned this before, and no doubt I will mention it again.


The preschool years represent a critical window of opportunity that we can't afford to waste."
Maryann O'Sullivan, Founder and Former CEO of Preschool California


Viva enjoys school.  She is reading at a very basic level. She can add and subtract.  She is learning how to tell time and count money.  She is, just as importantly, very social and gets along well with her peers.  That said, she is only 4 years old. Because we have swallowed the whole "first five" shpiel hook, line, and sinker, we are spending an obscene amount of money on preschool.  It would be nice to catch a break and get her into a good public kindergarten. I am putting in an application for her for Fall 2008 for a progressive, constructivist charter school and hoping like hell she gets in.


Sweet Dub's best friend has a daughter that is one year older than Viva. His daughter is also very bright, and she went to a very good preschool up until this fall, when she started public kindergarten. 


"She's bored," Sweet Dub's friend said. "They have kids in her class who don't even know their colors."  He also said that the teacher doesn't have time to teach to these varying levels, so she teaches at pretty much the lowest common denominator.  This is exactly what I was worried about. 


On the other hand, there is one part of my brain that says, "It's just kindergarten. Chill out and supplement school with what you do at home."  What do you think?


P.S. Still no Internet access at home.  Completely unacceptable.

Never miss a thing. Make Yahoo your homepage.


AmericanFamily said...

We are facing the same dilemma. Our almost 5 year old taught herself to read this year and now she is reading chapter books. I don't know what the heck they will do with her in kindergarten next year. I am just hoping she won't be sitting there learning to read C-A-T. I am praying she gets an excellent teacher who can personalize the instruction a little, but I am not betting on it.

Liz said...

I applied to put both of my kids in Community Magnet since the bus stops like five blocks away. We'll see what happens.

I feel torn about pushing the academics too early. On the one hand, Mozart was already composing when he was 4. On the other hand, a lot of studies are showing that kids are getting burnt out by 3rd grade because they're sick of the pressure.

So, this was my 4 year-old's first year of school. He started at the public pre-k when he was 3 and turned 4 in October. He knew colors and how to count when he went in, but that was about it. My eldest had this pre-k as well so I know he'll come out knowing letters, numbers to 20, how to count, how to write his name, etc. But alot of the pre-k is socialization. My eldest got an awesome K teacher and now in 1st grade he's reading on a second grade level so he's doing fine. My main complaint is that there's not much science, art, social studies at the school and the overall culture is not super rigorous. I do ALOT of supplementing at home around that stuff and then do fun literacy and math games with him.

Anyway, it sounds like your friend's daughter might have just gotten a teacher who's lazy and doesn't want to differentiate instruction, or maybe doesn't know how to do so. Everybody says that at most schools, kids are okay K-3, even 4th and 5th grade are alright. It's the middle schools that are to be avoided at any cost.

Sorry to write so much about this but I am thinking about it too!

Lisa Blah Blah said...

AmFam: Yes, exactly my concern. Sweet Dub went to pick her up early at school for a Dr.'s appt. one day, and when he got there, she was just sitting at her little table, waiting patiently, having finished her work while all her classmates were still laboring over their worksheets. I know, she will live, even if she is bored, but it does bug me a bit.

Liz: I have heard good things about Community Magnet and about Accelerated School, but for me the issue is the distance. Because my husband is so paranoid, he always says "what if she gets sick or there's [an earthquake/a domestic terrorist attack/an alien invasion], how would we get to her?" Right now she goes to school within 5 minutes of her retired grandfather, 10 minutes of Sweet Dub's job, and 15 minutes from my job (all by car). This is one of many reasons we won't move to the Valley.

I am trying to get her into Larchmont Charter. If that doesn't work, we can try to move this summer into an area with a good public elementary school, either Ivanhoe in our current area, or 3rd Street or Hancock Park if we move back near our old 'hood. Either of those would be within the flow of work for both of us.

I hear what you're saying about pushing the academics too early - Viva just really seems to like school. One area we have been resistant is in overscheduling because we feel like she should get some unstructured time to just be a kid. So while she could be in, oh, I don't know, soccer and piano and French class after school/on the weekends, she's not. She takes one arts/crafts class through school one day a week, and that's because she asked to. That's also why I want to get her into a more progressive school - she could continue at her current school through 8th grade, but it's very traditional. Hoping to broaden her horizons a little.

Lacey said...

I am far from brilliant, but I remember going in to kindergarten and knowing how to read. In first and second grade I would get punished for "reading ahead". I was so bored that by the time I reached ninth grade, I had tuned out and started failing. Did not really tune back in until college. Four years of highschool, pretty much wasted. I know kids are probably all different..I'm just sayin'

Lisa Blah Blah said...

Lacey, I had the same issue as a kid. In kindergarten I was in a special reading group with of four kids, and we had special time with the teacher. We each got to read a page of the book out loud and then it was the next kid's turn. I remember clearly feeling I would explode with impatience while one of the other kids was sounding out the words on one page.

Fortunately, my first grade teacher realized that I was "gifted" (I hate that term) and I ended up being tracked into different gifted programs throughout elementary school. I give her credit, because I would have been bored out of my skull and may have reacted the same way you did. For the most part, I had a really good educational experience and I want the same for Viva.