When the school year started (and Peanut entered Kindergarten), we knew that he was going to have a bit of a tough transition. Peanut has been dealt a bit of a disadvantage, compared to his classmates. In our small town, kids like Peanut aren't very common. He's the only kid in his class with a dark skin color. He's the only kid in his class who was adopted. He's the only kid in his class who lost his whole family and his culture...who then had to get used to a new culture, a new country, a new home, and a new family. In the past two years, Peanut has been through a tremendous amount of change. He's making incredible progress and I know that he will continue to do so...but people in his life need to give him the tools he needs (and the chance) to succeed.
Before school started, Z took Peanut in to school to meet his teacher and check out his classroom. During this meeting, Z told the Kindergarten teacher that Peanut was going to need some additional work. He told her that it was important that she be consistent. He told her that it was important that she make it clear to him at the very beginning of the school year what the boundaries were...and what the consequences were for over-stepping those boundaries. Z told her to expect Peanut to do some attention-seeking behaviors...and that these behaviors were related to his past and his difficulties with attachment. Z told her that we expected some difficult days for him and that once he knew what his boundaries (and consequences) were, then we expected he would do just fine. We told her to please let us know right away if he was not behaving appropriately so that we could address the behaviors right away.
We were clear with her.
Yesterday, Peanut had a rough day at school. His "cubby" was red - which means his behavior was bad at school (the first red he's had). So, he lost some privileges at home and had a "talking to" about his behavior. I wrote a note to the teacher letting her know that if there were specific behaviors that she would like us to address at home that she should let us know so that we could help Peanut work on these things.
She wrote a note back letting us know that yesterday's behavior wasn't really different from any other day so far...its just that now she's enforcing the rules because they are a month in to school and the students should be used to school and the rules now. She said Peanut is having a hard time with "Kindergarten-appropriate behaviors". She said she knew we had been recommended to enroll Peanut in the Pre-K program, but that we had opted out of it. She wanted us to know that Pre-K was still an option for Peanut and that she thinks it would be a good option for him. If we want to talk about this option for Peanut, please give her a call.
A month in to school and this is the FIRST TIME we are hearing about his "inappropriate" behaviors.
Why did we bother telling the teacher any of our concerns BEFORE school started? She clearly did not take anything we said seriously. Now, poor Peanut has spent a month at school thinking he was doing just fine...only to learn yesterday that he wasn't. Now he's confused about those boundaries...and the consequences. Now we have to re-teach him how to be a Kindergartener.
Now, I don't want to paint with a broad brush, but I have a feeling that this teacher read Peanut's "Kindergarten Round-up" evaluation and made up her mind about Peanut before she even met him. She's writing him off because he's going to be more work. And I'm concerned that she isn't going to listen to any input that we give her.
She wants us to put him in Pre-K...he'll turn 6 in Pre-K...and then turn 7 in Kindergarten. Am I crazy to think this is a bad idea?
Z and I are determined to make sure that Peanut is not punished for being adopted and for having a background that is "different" than the typical kid in our town. The teachers who have suggested Pre-K for Peanut have all tried to tell us that it is there to "help him". They are worried that "the rigors of Kindergarten" will "damage his spirit" and they think that Pre-K will help him transition better. But none of them want to hear that holding him back (and now removing him from Kindergarten and sending him back to Pre-K) will also "damage his spirit". Peanut has wanted to go to school from the moment he got off the airplane. He was heartbroken when his big brother got to go to school and he didn't. He's SMART. He needs to go to school. When he gets bored, he misbehaves. Somehow, I don't think that Pre-K will engage him enough to keep him busy and keep him from getting bored.
But what do I know?
I'm just his MOM.
My mistake? Taking him to the week-long Kindergarten Round-Up. I really wish I had not taken him, and that I had instead just enrolled him in Kindergarten. Kindergarten Round-Up has only given the teachers an "out". Its given them the chance to pre-judge my little boy and that just stinks. Now we have to work to get the teacher to step outside her box of familiarity and figure out some new strategies that will work for our little boy. He deserves to be in Kindergarten with the rest of the kids his age. He deserves to be given an education and be evaluated fairly. He deserves a chance.