Thursday, June 03, 2010

Preschool

"Strange crackers. I liked the milk cookies, milk and water. And I liked the tire swing."

This was Kylie's response on Wednesday when I picked her up from pre-school and asked her about her first day.

I was way more nervous than she as I walked her into her classroom that morning. Kylie is attending a pre-primary summer camp class from 8:30 - 11:30 each day. Her Montessori school campus is gorgeous, the classroom is large and beautifully clean with lots of little areas to explore. Kylie gravitated towards the fish tank of her classroom and I introduced myself and Kylie to the teacher, Ms. Robin.

Ms. Robin asked me to purchase 2 packs of organic crackers and six Elmer's glue sticks and then it was clear that it was time for me to go. I gave Kylie a high five, a hug and a kiss on her cheek and walked with shaky legs back to my car.

I drove to the nearest Starbucks, ordered a tall coffee, and reflected on the adventure we are starting.

I repeated to myself the reasons we are starting Kylie at preschool at 3 instead of at 4 like we had planned.
A. Kylie keeps saying, "I want to go to school. I'm big enough now."
B. She keeps saying, "I want someone else to play with."
C. She has had great behavior in her art classes, Gymboree classes, and other classes.
D. She is disappointed when we don't a class.
E. She seems to be hungry for more stimulus and more social interaction than I can provide. Even with a plate full of classes and tons of playground time, she wants more.

Those are the reasons I think Kylie is ready. Here are the reasons I think I am ready.
F. I am tired of feeling pulled in two directions all the time. Anytime I have to run errands or clean the house, I worry that I'm not devoting enough time to Kylie. That I'm not giving her my full attention enough.
G. I love being her teacher and introducing her to new ways to learn (any of you who have read the blog for a while knows this). But lately I've wanted someone else to take on SOME of that responsibility.
H. Our situation with not finding a good babysitter while in VA has made me a bit tired. Taking care of my darling daughter for the past three years has been a wonderful but very tiring time. I'm ready for a steady, dependable break- like the three hours she's in class each day.

After reassuring myself and taking lots of deep breaths (and drinking the entire cup of coffee), I was off to the Fresh Market to find organic crackers. I was smirking a bit and thinking "I hope I can find what the teacher talking about. We are Saltine and Ritz girls in our house. Organic crackers?"

I stood in the cracker aisle evaluating each cracker brand. Finally, I went with the crackers that had Organic written the largest on the box.

When I returned to get Kylie, I was hoping to have a chat with the teacher to see how she did. But I was told that Kylie would be brought to my car and to not get out of the car. The teacher opened the car door and said, "Good first day of class. No tears." Then she smiled at me and Kylie and walked away.

On one hand, I was thrilled that kiddo looked to be in a good mood. She didn't look like she had been crying at all. But on the other hand, I was rather disappointed to not know more.

Today was the same. They take Kylie from the car in the morning and they put her back at 11:30. No mention of the day's activities.

I asked Kylie about her day today and the most I can get out of her is, "I chased Ian a lot at the playground." I keep asking leading questions like, "Did the teacher read a story? Did you have a letter or number of the day? What did you do first? What was your favorite thing to play with? Did you sing songs? Did you have a lesson?"

You get the idea. The list of questions just goes on and on. And Kylie replies, "I don't know or I don't remember."

Sooooooooo, I'm asking you Moms out there in blogland for your help. What should I expect as far as feedback from the school. In a perfect situation, I would love to have a 15 minute chat with the teacher every day and learn exactly what the class did that day. As a secondary situation, I would love a slip of paper that says what story they were read, or what letter they worked on, or what lesson they learned or any dang thing about the three hours of class.

So if you have had/or currently have a kiddo in preschool or daycare, please let me know what you get for feedback about your child's day.

I'm going a little nuts not knowing.

And the pressure is on because if we want a spot in class this Fall at the school, we need to let them know asap.

By the way, beach time with Kylie is simply awesome!
060310__3

060310__2

060310__1

17 comments:

-C- said...

OK, I'm not yet a parent, but I've worked at daycares and nannied for umpteen years, and I'm sorry, but this Montessori's setup sounds totally not OK with me!! You're paying them to take care of your (very young) child and they don't deign to tell you anything about her day? Uh-uh. I think you'd be COMPLETELY within your rights to demand a slip of paper each day with details! It's their job to keep you informed. That's weird about them walking her to the car. Hmm. I hope you find a place for the Fall that works for your family!

f said...

I've heard that preschools and schools have had to set limits or procedures like this because parents can be so interested that it can add an hour or two onto the end of the day for the teacher. Or parents won't leave the classroom, and then it heightens the tears/drama when they actually do leave. Or parents complain about little things without knowing the situation in the classroom. But it's well within your rights and comfort zone to know SOMETHING that's going on. Even a weekly report would help a bit! Maybe you can call the school and find out their reasons for delivering her to the car without any comment. And that you'd like to know her general activities so you can continue any lessons or see her progress for yourself. I'd definitely find out WHY they're doing it like this, and how you might be able to also get your own concerns addressed. It's a bit weird to not know ANYTHING that's going on... at least until she's a silent pre-teen ;-)

Also -wanted to let you know about those SPF suits. They cover the kid's arms and legs a bit with some SPF fabric and it's so much easier than constantly wondering about ensuring her whole body is slathered in waterproof sunblock.

For the Long Haul said...

I'm sorry, but I disagree with your previous commenter. My son has been in daycare since he was 3 months old, is now just turned 4 and is in a Montessori Preschool. When he was littler, in daycare, we got the notes everyday. But now I get the same as you get and his school is WONDERFUL. This is the norm for kids aged 3-4. They are bigger kids now. My son still doesn't "give up" a whole lot about his day but it is clear he's having a great time and learning a ton. I would recommend you ask to schedule an appt with his teacher for a chat (which I am sure they will do) and ask some questions there. Or ask to sit in on the class for one day to get an idea. Keep in mind there are lots of kids in preschool and for a teacher to take the time to fill out papers for each and every one is time they are NOT spending with your child (presuming it would be sent home with your child that day). We get a note if there was a "boo boo" or a potty accident, but no notes means great day! Sounds like a great school; I wouldn't judge on not getting a daily report. That just isn't the norm for kids that age in my opinion.

Stacey said...

In daycare we got a note. In montessori we don't receive anything but the teacher will tell us something if there was anything interesting that day. I don't like the independence extreme that some montessori teachers practice and like picking my kids up in the classroom. Persoinally I don't think you'll get a long rundown since there are so many parents but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect some information. Kids won't tell you a thing. Riley always says she didn't do anything at school. I would hate the silent drop off routine at the car.

Alayna said...

At Mateo's preschool, they do a little report that has things circled on how he did that day - how he behaved, what he ate, etc - and then a part where they write his favorite activity. Unless you happen to come in early, the teachers are usually much too busy to have a chat about your individual child...but the little report is nice to get. M would never go for the car drop-off routine, although I can see how that would be nice for the school. Also, I know Montessori views play as kids' "work," (in a good way) so it may be that taking them right from the car helps establish a clear separation right away.

One more thing - we know lots of kids in daycare and preschool by this point and every parent I've talked to has said the same thing: it's almost impossible to get the kid to tell you about their day. Sometimes they'll give random details, but mostly it's along the lines of "I don't know" or "we went to the park". I think it must just be the age! I would talk to the teacher about some kind of daily reprt, because if that's important to you (and it is to me) and it's not going to happen, you probably want to consider that before enrolling her for next fall....

E, SS and the Little Man said...

So far, Teo has been in the preschool at the high school where my partner works. The parents pick up and drop off at the door, and the teacher is at the door greeting parents, and perhaps sharing snippets of the day (for example, today they made ice-cream). I don't ask too much because I feel like she will tell me if there is a problem. One thing that helped ease my mind was that she said I could stay at the preschool whenever I wanted to. I chose to stay the first day, to observe what the routine looked like, and to take some pics. That was enough for me.

Teo is hit or miss about telling me what happened that day. Usually he will at least tell me what he ate for lunch, but today he couldn't remember (except for ice-cream). Sometimes he will tell me the actual name of the book they read. You might find that Kylie will have more information as time goes on. It's her first experience away from home/you for a longish time. If you keep asking her, she might get the hint to remember. Or you might prepare her by saying "I'll ask you what you did today later" as you drop her off. :)

I would ask to spend a day there, if possible, but I think a note every day is something more for younger kids.

Cara said...

I have my daughter in a Montessori preschool as well, and she's just three now. I love the break it gives me as a tired SAHM--I totally get that. She loves the socializing. But like you, I have no idea what she does at school.

At the beginning she told me very little--mostly what they ate for snack. And the fact they sang O Canada. I asked all the questions like you. As time went on crazy tid-bits of what must happen at school emerged--like the fact they do the weather in French, songs they sung, etc. She'd just come out with this stuff that I knew I didn't teach her. We were in a book store the other day and she was so familiar with a certain book we've never read--so I asked if she knew it from preschool.

I think it's odd that they pick-up and deliver the child from the car, but it's probably their way of guaranteeing parents don't linger in the classroom, which can be upsetting for some kids. Once one child cries, they all do. We are not supposed to enter the classroom at all, that way the child is not used to the parent in that environment. We wait quietly in the hall for pick-up. I find that's been a nice way to meet the other parents.

As for daily feedback from the teachers, I get as much as you did, or less. Unless she had an accident, I don't hear much. Most communication happens through newsletters and there are two 15-minute teacher/parent interviews per year. Our year is wrapping up mid-June for the summer--only three classes left and they she'll go again next year.

Bethany said...

This would totally not work for me. I used to work at a daycare center that had Preschool. Parents knew our letter/number for the day, etc. It was like an outline of curriculum, plus, it provides "talking points" for at home. I would think they would like for you to reinforce what they are doing. We also had a comment section that we filled out every day, and a place where we circled responses. Like Kylie was...and you circle the happy face, sad face, hyper face, etc. We even recorded snacks on there, and always tried to fill in something in the comment section. My little guy starts preschool in the fall, and his teacher has told me over and over I can visit anytime (which I probably won't, but still the option is there), and we walk them to the classroom and have to come in to pick them up. I don't think you're being unreasonable. They could be doing Chinese water torture in there for 3 hours as far as you know. I would want an outline. :)

em said...

My almost 3 year old goes to preschool 3 days a week. Each day as I pick her up (you have to walk into the school to sign out the kids) I chat with the teachers briefly and ask about her day. There is also a daily calendar posted outside her room that we are encouraged to look at and which helps me ask Jojo questions about her day. I struggled at first not knowing what she was doing EVERY SECOND of the day, but after a few months I have loosened up and just enjoy the things that I can tell she has learned! All of a sudden she will break out into a song that I don't know or tell me about a friend at school and these tidbits satisfy me. But if you feel like you are wanting more, ask!!

kat said...

i know zilch about daycare :) i just wanted to say the beach photos are awesome! i'm up in grey seattle and i wish we had a beach like your's :) i loved the last photo especially with her little kid wedgie haha :)

Beth said...

1st of all, gorgeous photos! =)

Adam has been in his Montessori school for 1.5 years now. When he was in the 1-2 room, we did get daily reports (written and verbal) every day. I'm still friendly with his teacher!

Since he's been in the 2-3 class, there are no written reports. When Adam was "acting up" a bit, his teacher would tell me (not the news I wanted to hear, but important none-the-less). Thank goodness, the tide has turned (knock on wood), and she nows says he's doing "well" or "fine"... I don't get much more out of her than that (I'm not a big fan of the word "fine" either in this situation, but whatever). He is also tired at the end of the day and talks very little about what he did. However, in his cubby there are "worksheets" that show me the letters/numbers they reviewed and little art projects. There is also a monthly calendar up that outlines the day. I've picked him up at random times and he always seems happy & engaged. He'll also state random facts... he mentioned today that birds eat words... he definitely learned that at school.

Long story short... I would gauge Kylie's mood after school. When it comes to Adam & school, as long as he's happy, I'm happy. Kylie is a very bright little girl so I'm sure she is a little sponge in class and will learn a ton of stuff.

I do agree with the recommendation to ask the director if you can have a conference with Kylie's teacher to discuss expectations, curriculum, etc.

Please keep us blog readers posted! =)

Beth said...

Just re-read my comment... meant to say that "birds eat WORMS, not words"... probably would be more interesting, though, if they taught him that!!! =)

Rhiann said...

I only have a second but I wanted to encourage you to seek out a Reggio-Emilia inspired school if you crave a written report.

Do you have an email address I can write to you at? My bachelors is in ECE and I'm working on my masters. I'd love to chat with you about this, if you're interested.

Here's mine:

sparkling gemini at gmail dot com

:-)

And...as always, Kylie is a doll and your photos are breathtaking!

The Moms to Be said...

Hi,

I'm not a parent, but I teach Senior Kindergarten at an IB school with a Montessori background, so I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

I agree with the people who suggested that you try to set up a meeting time with the teacher to discuss what Kylie is doing at school. Did you visit the school or have an orientation before Kylie started? One thing about true Montessori schools is that they are very self-directed, in that the students pick their work during the day, complete it, and put it away. The approach to language and math isn't a "letter and number of the day" type approach. Students work at their own pace and are usually instructed individually by a teacher. In other words, Kylie may be working on learning initial sounds, while another child in the class is using manipulatives to build phonetic words, and another is matching pictures that go together (eg. bird/nest). There are also a lot of "practical life" activities like pouring and spooning. Finally, there are a lot of activities with unusual names, so Kylie may not be able to tell you what she did. For example, the red and blue number rods, the pink tower, the broad stairs, etc.

I do find it surprising that there is little to no communication. Do they send out a weekly or monthly newsletter? Are there parent-teacher interviews? Reports? I don't think that asking to have some information on what is going on is unreasonable. Far from it, actually. Maybe it's something worth speaking to the director of the school about.

At our school parents typically pick up and drop off their children in the playground and then put their lunch things upstairs in our cloakroom. We often chat with them briefly about what's going on in class and how their child is doing behaviourly through the playground fence. If one of us is outside, there is another inside (2 teachers in each class), so if there's a more serious concern, a parent may go inside to have a more private conversation with the other teacher. We used to send monthly paper newsletters, but now send weekly electronic newsletters via our school website that talk about what, as a class, we are learning and any special events going on. We have a white board just inside the classroom with reminders for parents. We have 2-3 formal interviews a year and 2 report cards get sent home.

I hope you're able to at least get an orientation and hopefully find out that there is some communication, even if you haven't been there long enough to experience it yet. (I do think daily written reports are too much to expect.) Anyway, good luck. And it is a good sign that Kylie seems happy there.

-Allison.

M said...

hello, life is quite different in Europe, but my kiddo went a montessory daycare too(with 2years), when normally kids starts here in spain.
1.- the adaptation period is sharing time parents-tachers. I went to school with my son for 3 days, one day 1h,next day 2h, after 3h. after theses days, he was alone, but I talked with teacher everysingle day 5minutes in th morning and at 12h when I picked him up. And we worked together, it was absolutely neccesary for me to be in touch and have a everyday feedback. Just one thing dont ask many questions to kylie, she can feel unsure. It happend to me. Uppsss I think must be hard for you get separated of your daughter and know nothing about what happens (good or bad). IT IS YOUR RIGHT TO KNOW. And the best thing was to go stratight to the class and see how he was feeling in the way to get separated, and how much he changed. until he run away from my hand to teachers hand or his friends. From the car there is not much to see. She will talk to you suddenly, when you really don´t expect to hear, she will tell you everything but until then you need the teachers feedback.

Now my kids are 5 and 3 and still take them to their own class and talk to their teachers everyday. Maybe it is the way it works in spain. but kids are kids here and all around the world,!!!

Shannon said...

Our son isn't in a Montessori school, but he is in nursery school and we don't get a lot of feedback either, unless he's had a bad day, then they'll come and talk to us at pick up time. However, they are readily available if we have any questions or want to know more, and we also get a monthly calendar that tells us what they'll be working on each day. I would think you'd be entitled to some more information than you're getting.

When our son was in daycare, the teachers kept daily journals on each child that including everything from what they ate to when they went to the bathroom to what they liked most that day, and also often had pictures.

TexasTeacher said...

I am a public-school teacher at the elementary level. I love all of my students, but it is true that the ones who are doing really well are the ones who I don't have to worry about after hours; meaning it is the struggling student's parent I am trying to speak with. I am sure that your Kylie is doing extremely well. You have provided her with so many opportunities and she seems to be very well-rounded. I do think the school should have a monthly calendar detailing what the lesson plans are, even if it is only a line or two for each day. Perhaps they just failed to give it to you for this month. My daughter just finished Kindergarten, and I used email to keep in touch with her teacher, who is an awesome teacher. I only heard from her occasionally, unless I initiated the conversation. Just keep up the great work, and I am sure Kylie will continue to thrive.