Saturday, September 22, 2007


We have an interview with a new school on Thursday. It's a well-established Montessori school. I would really like Andy to go there, because the glimpse I had of the facility was really promising, it comes highly recommended from both parents and previous students (who are often the same people), and Montessori does emphasize skills and ideas I would like Andy to have. Self-discipline. Wonder. Interest in learning. Being able to read the map, rather than just know the route to specific destinations.

Andy is three years old. He does not currently possess these skills. We just left a school that seemed to assume kids possessed skills I thought were the goal of preschool- things like sharing, following instructions, self-care. A big worry is the idea that if we go with this school, we are obligated to the full tuition. In other words, if something goes wrong, we're out a lot of money and probably cant afford to try another school. What if the environment turns out to be over-stimulating, so that he can't focus? How common is it for kids to get so interested in new things that they forget the bathroom? I thought it was pretty common, but apparently not. What about the impact on his personality of spending so much of his life in waiting rooms, of having a brother with a disability? The impact of his own weaknesses in sensory integration and communication? What if he melts down? Will they throw him out? Do other kids sometimes melt down in school? What if he becomes aggressive with his frustration? Will they help, or just tell me to come get him? Are these "normal" problems to have?

Having Andy tossed from preschool (well, technically, I pulled him out, but he was clearly unwelcome) has been a real shock. He is so very ready, and yet he has issues. I thought all kids had issues. Now I'm not so sure. What if his issues are considered unacceptable?


AnneC said...

Good grief! Yes, every child has issues. Please don't let the attitude expressed by Andy's old school make you think that it's wrong for Andy to be developing at his own pace. I don't know if you've ever read, "A Wrinkle In Time", but sometimes I seriously wonder if we're heading toward Camazotz.

(excerpt from "Wrinkle" follows)

Below them the town was laid out in harsh angular patterns. The houses in the outskirts were all exactly alike, small square boxes painted gray. Each had a small, rectangular plot of lawn in front, with a straight line of dull-looking flowers edging to the frnt path of the door. Meg had a feeling that if she could count the flowers there would be exactly the same number for each house. In front of all the houses children were playing. Some were skipping rope, some were bouncing balls. Meg felt vaguely that something was wrong with their play. It seemed exactly like children playing around any housing development at home, and yet there was something different about it. She looked at Calvin, and saw that he, too, was puzzled.
"Look!" Charles Wallace said suddenly. "They're skipping and bouncing exactly in rhythm! Everyone's doing it at exactly the same moment."

This was so. As the skipping rope hit the pavement, so did the ball. As the rope curved over the head of the jumping child, the child with the ball caught the ball. Down came the ropes. Down came the balls. Over and over again. Up. Down. All in rhythm. All identical. Like the houses. Like the paths. Like the flowers.

Then the doors of all the houses opened simultaneously, and out came women like a row of paper dolls. The print of their dresses was different, but they all gave the appearance of being the same. Each woman stood on the steps of her house. Each clapped. Each child with the ball caught the ball. Each child with the skipping rope folded the rope. Each child turned and walked into the house. The doors clicked shut behind them.


Then, all at once, they saw the same thing, and stopped to watch. In front of one of the houses stood a little boy with a ball, and he was bouncing it. But he bounced it rather badly and with no particular rhythm, sometimes dropping it and running after it with awkward, furtive leaps, sometimes throwing it up into the air and trying to catch it. The door of his house opened and out ran one of the mother figures. She looked wildly up and down the street, saw the children and put her hand to her mouth as though to stifle a scream, grabbed the little boy and rushed indoors with him. The ball dropped from his fingers and rolled out into the street.


Then Charles Wallace saw a bell, and this he rang. They could hear the bell buzzing in the house, and the sound of it echoed down the street. After a moment the mother figure opened the door. All up and down the street other doors opened, but only a crack, and eyes peered toward the three children and the woman looking fearfully out of the door at them.


"I think your little boy dropped his ball," Charles Wallaca said, holding it out.
The woman pushed the ball away. "Oh no! The children in our section never drop balls! They're all perfectly trained. We haven't had an Aberration for three years."

All up and down the block, heads nodded in agreement.

VAB said...

Only having one, and that one having had an issue or two, I can't tell you what is normal. If I were in your shoes, I think I would be very frank with the school and ask them what they have on offer. After all, you are shopping for a service that they are in the business of providing. Tell them what it is you are looking for -- what you expect out of the service and where the difficulties are. They should be able to tell you if that is the kind of service they are good a providing. What I wouldn't want to do is just hope that they've got what I need without asking.

Casdok said...

We all have issues!!!
Im sure he will be fine.

little.birdy said...

What helped me as a sib of a disabled child was going to a workshop with other kids with brothers like mine. I didn't have the opportunity to do that when I was younger because it took a while to pin down what was going on with my brother, but it might be nice for Andy to have that support. There are also books written for and by children with disabled siblings. I think we're a pretty cool bunch. :)

abfh said...

I believe there are enough of us fighting back so that we won't end up in Camazotz, but yeah, the worship of "normality" these days is seriously scary.

If this Montessori school doesn't let you have a trial period before paying the full year's tuition, that's a huge red flag, IMHO. Preschools shouldn't demand that you pay a lot of money before you even know if the school is a good fit for your kid.

I'm glad you enjoyed my blogging meme!

Stimey said...

Hi there! I'm so sorry to hear about your problems with Andy's school. Rest assured, your child is exhibiting very normal potty training behavior--behavior that a preschool should really be able to deal with. It's not Andy, it's the school.

Definitely ask all your questions to the school. If they are forthcoming with their answers, and if they are comforting, it might be the right place.

I'm incredibly lucky with my preschool. None of the kids are required to be potty trained. Even four year olds. Because some of them just aren't there yet, and it's not okay to leave them out for very normal behavior. It seems unreasonable to force a three-year-old who is new to school to be able to deal with all that without any help. Really? Not even VERBAL prompts?

Good luck to you. I hope you find the right place!