Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Kindergarten Part 2

Fresh from the kum-ba-yah experience of kindergarten orientation a few weeks ago, I'd been nothing but optimistic about the coming school year.

Then a few gray clouds floated into that sunny sky.

Last week Sean had his kindergarten assessment. I wasn't in the room with him, so my assessment of the assessment is based on the admittedly spotty reportorial skills of the study subject. According to Sean, he had to write his name, count to 20, name some shapes, cut a straight line, and identify letters. And *mumble mumble mumble*.

After much prodding, the most I could get out of Sean was that the teacher asked him a question, he couldn't hear her, but he didn't want to interrupt her.

I'm thinking that this was some type of comprehension or general knowledge evaluation. His preschool teacher conducted a similar test, and Sean did quite well. But now I am concerned that whatever difficulty he encountered here will somehow color the assesser's impression of his cognitive abilities. Parents are supposed to be receiving the results of the assessment at some undefined point; I've been wondering if I should contact the school to explain -- well, I'm not sure what I'd be explaining exactly. That Sean couldn't hear a question? That he isn't really slow in any way, it was all a big hearing mistake?

Can you say "helicopter parent"?

I guess I'll wait till the results come in before I come across as a pain in the neck parent before my son even starts school.

The second concern came to my attention quite serendipitously. At the park last week, I ran into a woman whose acquaintance has been limited entirely to, well, the park. I hadn't seen her since last August, and I asked how her son liked kindergarten at our school this past year.

"Well, we had some problems with the teacher."

(Heart sinking.)

Turns out the teacher was pretty poor. She was uncommunicative about anything happening in the classroom, to such an extent that the parents had no idea what was going on. Eventually they wrote a collective letter to the principal. (What response they received, and whether it made a difference, I don't know.) The teacher apparently didn't make kindergarten fun, she was too strict, blah blah blah.


I realize that at some point my kids will have a subpar teacher; I had just hoped that it wouldn't be in the inaugural schooling year! I fear that having a bad teacher in kindergarten could really tarnish Sean's opinion of school in general.

Nothing is certain, of course. The parent I talked to could have been over-reacting. Even is she was correct, though, there is a chance that this teacher could be reassigned (again -- she'd already been bumped down from a higher grade), or her contract could not be renewed (I don't think she's tenured). Even if she stays where she is, there will also be another section of kindergarten in September (two morning sessions and one afternoon instead of just one of each this past year), giving us a shot at a different teacher.

Tempest in a teapot? Perhaps. Still, I kind of wish the kindergarten forecast hadn't suddenly gone to partly cloudy.