Posted by: angelnorman | January 29, 2010

thoughts on kindergarten, vol. 1

today, ms. j (one of nick’s preschool teachers) came to the door to greet me even though nick was pretty much out the door and halfway down the hall by the time she started talking. “he,” she said, nodding at nicholas after i wrangled him back into my general vicinity, “is a joy to have in class.”

i smiled. should i say thank you? i’m not sure what to do in those sorts of situations because she was looking at me as though i was supposed to say something else but thank you really doesn’t apply because it’s not ME who is a joy to have in class. however, i am somewhat responsible for his good behavior and generally pleasant attitude, so i thanked her for that reason and she went on to tell me that he was one of their best, always polite and always listening. she said if ever her and ms. c ever have to call nick out on anything, they both look at each other like, “wow!” because he almost never misbehaves and needs to be called out.

he has them fooled.

at home, nick is not so angelic. in fact, he’s sassy and bossy and a little bit demanding. he’s moody and downright cranky at times, and he is in this stage where he is negotiating with us over everything. “clean your room,” i say. “after wubbzy goes off, i will clean my room up,” he’ll counter. mike will say, “brush your teeth! it’s bedtime!” and he will say, “how about i just go to bed and then i can just brush them in the morning?”

it’s ridiculous, but it’s my fault because if ever he starts to fuss about not getting his way, i almost always offer another option. he’s using my own strategies on me.

my friend ems and i got together sometime mid-month and she planted a notion in my head that had me thinking about sending nick to kindergarten at our local magnet school. i looked into it when i got home from our playdate and learned that it required testing and evaluations and forms to be printed, filled out, and returned… but nothing was on their website that gave me any piece of mind about the criteria upon which my kid would be judged. mike and i discussed the option of magnet school, with me holding the position that nick was capable of doing whatever we wanted him to do at this point and with mike saying that he wants to wait until nick is old enough to choose a magnet program for himself. michael and i were both accepted to magnet schools when we were entering high school. he ended up going, but i ended up staying in regular public school. hume fogg just wasn’t meant to be for me. but mike graduated from hume fogg after four semi-grueling years of lots of academic pressure. i realized after our discussion that the truth of it was that michael didn’t want nick to have to hate school at such a young age like he himself did once in a magnet school environment, and i just wanted nick to have the opportunities i didn’t have because it was impossible for my parents to transport me to downtown nashville every morning and then back every afternoon. we were both looking at our pasts and using that to determine what was best for nick.

finally i just outright asked him. i basically said, “do you want to go to a school that studies more art or just regular kindergarten?” i wasn’t sure how to explain the entire concept behind a magnet school, or even how to encourage striving for academic excellence really.

“i want to go to regular kindergarten. with regular art.” and that was that.

but today i couldn’t help but ask ms. j what she thought, since she was so keen on praising nick anyways. i asked if he’d be a good candidate and she said she thought he would. when i told her we had decided against it, she reassured me that the school we’re zoned for was a good school with lots of caring teachers and that nick would be okay, no matter where he went, because he was smart and capable of anything he puts his mind towards. she used his reading as an example.

she must’ve noticed the look of shock on my face when she said he was learning to read, because she went on to explain that they are working on sight words and that things in the class are labeled, and he’s sounding words out and remembering words from around the class, etc. at home, he does nothing to really even indicate he wants to read, so i was pretty pumped that he’s doing something towards that at school.

and maybe it’s just the insecure part of me, but after our discussion, i was a little bummed that i didn’t trust my instincts and have him evaluated just to see if he could do the magnet school thing. it’s just something i’ve always been so proud of, something i did that i’ve never failed to share with folks whenever they’d “ooh” and “ahh” about michael’s superb education. “i could’ve gone too!” (i am such a brat, right?) but i was at least accepted to a magnet school and that has always made me feel a little bit proud. someone out there thought i was smart and good enough for a better education than what my normal ol’ public school had to offer. perhaps i felt a little like i was letting nick down after hearing about how much more advanced he is in an educational environment compared to the way he is at home, and i sort of wish that i could turn back the clock and just sign him up. after all, you never know unless you try… which is exactly how i felt when i applied to hume fogg despite the fact that i knew my parents couldn’t support me on it.

but is it better to push your kid to do things, which is what i am prone to do, or to wait and see what he wants to do, which is what mike wants for him? i think that’s a hard call to make at this stage in the game.

none of what i have considered is what nick wants. his idea of “trying” is not always my idea of trying. just like mike’s opinion of how “advanced” nick is differs from ms. j’s or how nick’s behavior at school isn’t the same as his behavior at home. there’s many sides to look at. while it’s a lot to consider, and while my child’s education is super important to me, nick doesn’t care about what school he goes to. and really, i won’t care either as long as the teachers are nice, fair, and decent…. and can teach my boy the things he wants and needs to know. that’s all that matters, right? we’ve already done a lot to ensure he gets a decent chance at a better-than-we-had-it sort of life, education included. after all, we moved out of nashville city schools hoping to give nick the best education we could without having to pay for private school. we also pay every month out the butt to send him to one of the best preschools our area has to offer.

i should just play it by ear for a little bit and relax and enjoy a nice easy school year come this fall, i think. after all, we’re only just beginning this education thing with nick. we have thirteen more years to work it out. why does kindergarten need so much thought…? why should i rack my brain with the what-ifs and the if-onlys? bottom line: if our school sucks, i’ll find a better one. if i can’t find a better one, i’ll homeschool. it’s really no big deal. right? RIGHT?

oh, how i remember the days when i thought finding an affordable and decent preschool was a lot. those days were so much easier. i truly am just beginning.



  1. You are reading my thoughts! Every thing you wrote about Nick and school and magnet school is exactly what I have been thinking – I am worried about pressuring them too much, while at the same time worrying about not challenging them enough. I finally came to the conclusion [after talking about it ALOT to EVERYONE] that i would just sign them up to see if they even got in and then make my decision from there….

    Their current school is a great example of what nicks teacher said – it is full of fantastic teachers that care so much about the kids and that makes a huge difference. I wouldn’t be working there now if I didn’t love it so much. It just gets a bad rap because of the neighborhood it services.

    And Cash and Hayden are so like Nick too – so well-behaved at school and at home? Yea – not so much. I guess I’d rather have it that way then vice versa, right?

    Where is he zoned for? Stewartsboro or Smyrna Primary? I’ve heard nothing but good things about either of those schools!!!!

  2. oh and p.s. i remember we were talking about Lancaster to and I have been meaning to tell you that if you pick up the Rutherford Parent Family Manual I think they list all the private schools and tuitions in there.

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