Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Countdown to Kindergarten

Scooter's summer daycare situation is winding down. Class lists are posted soon. Then there's a meet-the-teacher time where he can scope out the classroom and drop off his school supplies.

And then he starts kindergarten.

This week, we've been making use of a guest pass our neighbor gave us for the pool that's near the elementary school. As Scooter and I walk over there, we'll talk about how this is the way we'll walk once school starts and count the days until various kindergarten-related events. Yesterday I asked how he was feeling about kindergarten starting soon and gave him the choices of excited, worried, or excited and worried. He chose excited, and we began to talk about all the different things he would get to do.

I, however, would have chosen excited and worried.

Overall, I am hopeful that kindergarten will be a good experience for Scooter. I suspect that the all-day structure will be good for him. At a couple of the preschool/IEP meetings last year, I pointed out that the brevity of the preschool day (2 1/2 hours, four days a week) probably worked against Scooter's comfort. They tried to go to all of the extras that the other classes do, but this created a very compact schedule with lots of transitions and little chance for Scooter to settle into a rhythm. He was never very excited about school and had multiple meltdowns in those 2 1/2 hours on several occasions. In his summer daycare, where he stays for about 7 hours a day, he has had very few meltdowns and is almost always excited to go. Some of it is probably due to the similarity of their style to his old daycare in Toronto, but I feel pretty sure that he also feels more at ease since activities are given a bit longer. It doesn't hurt that these teachers seem better at letting kids know about imminent transitions before they happen instead of demanding an instant switch to a new activity.

I am also confident that Scooter is ready for the academic kindergarten. He really wants to learn how to read--he doesn't consider the fact that he can recognize some words, sound out others, and spell yet another group to be real reading; he wants to be able to read a whole book. He'll tell you he can count to 20, but with only a little help, he can make it to 100 and can identify numbers much higher than that. He is absolutely ready to soak up whatever knowledge his teacher can impart, and somehow I think that he will be more willing to consider it true learning if it comes from a teacher instead of me or himself.

But that also raises the first of my whispering concerns. I cross my fingers that he will have a teacher who will keep the material interesting and provide enrichment when he's already beyond the curriculum. Given what I've seen of other kids in the community, I have to imagine he's not the only one and the teacher is used to dealing with 5-year-old smarties, so I won't actively worry about this until there's reason.

It also helps that there will be some continuity for Scooter. He'll be working with the same OT and will probably have teachers he's met before for PE, music, and library. He's walked through the building and knows at least the main corridor.

He's not worried about the issue of friends, even though most of the kids he met at daycare, especially the other boys who are odd in the same ways as Scooter, are going to other elementary schools. So far, the one kid I'm sure will be there is one who was on his soccer team, not a kid Scooter or I particularly like. (Hearing this child's name shrieked non-stop by his harried mother turned me off of my favorite boy's name since she was using the shortened version--which was the nickname I would have used.)

He's not concerned about where the bathroom is or having an accident at school (which kindergarten-readiness articles tell me is a common cause of anxiety), but I've noticed that a fresh change of clothes is not included on the supply list. So now I'm anxious for him. Will the teacher have scheduled potty breaks? Will he have a cubby where I can stash clothes for him? Or will I have to convince the teacher to find a place for them? Will the accident(s) he almost certainly will have haunt him for the rest of elementary school? (This reminds me a bit of Aliki's post on sleep issues with L. This is not something I discuss with other parents around here, because who still has a kid at 5 for whom accidents are still a concern? He can make it through most days, but will then slip up a few times in a row. And we still have to frequently remind him to take potty breaks.)

Outside of all this, of course, there are the obligatory motherly exclamations of "How is it time for kindergarten already?" and "What happened to my little baby?" Trillian and I both are likely to cry when he heads into school by himself that first day. Hopefully, when this is all routine in another month or so, my concerns will have been unfounded and we'll be happily discussing what Scooter wants to learn next.


Team Serrins Springfield said...

I can't imagine that Scooter is the only kindergardner who may have accidents. My sister taught kindergarden and first grade years ago and she said that never a day went by without a kid either peeing or throwing up. Surely they've got something in place for the possibility?

Mouse said...

I'll definitely be asking the teacher about this when we go in. I've seen other schools with a change of clothing on the supply list, so I wonder what their plan is at Scooter's school.

Aliki2006 said...

We still send a fresh change of clothes with L. He doesn't have accidents at school, but if his clothes get even the slightest bit wet (from the water fountain, or, god forbid, a drip of pee in the bathroom while using it) he insists on a dry change. I don't know if Scooter has those issues, but I think it's important to always include a change, and I *know* there are probably quite a few other kindergarteners in Scooter's class who might need cleaning up at some point.

Off to kindergarten--what a milestone!

Mouse said...

Will be writing more about this later, but Scooter is in the less-experienced teacher's class with not only the kid from his soccer team, but also another from his preschool class who is destructive. And when in close proximity to either, Scooter imitates them. This could be a long year.