Kelly Starts Kindergarten

Kelly had her kindergarten orientation this morning, while the older classes had their first day of school, and Peter and I are still ambivalent about sending her off.

There was a lot to look forward to with being at a neighborhood school instead of at the science magnet where Neil went. The school is only half a block from our home, and its as much a community draw as much as a school. Neil’s met and played with many a friend there, and we were particularly thrilled to find out the son of some neighborhood friends (whom we’ve known since Neil was 9 months old) was going to be in Kelly’s class. And our fellow parents all looked nervous and eager to help their child succeed.

Against that however, was the fact that we adored Neil’s kindergarten teacher, and she was at the school Kelly didn’t get into. The teacher I had requested had been reassigned to teach 3rd grade over the summer, so Kelly had someone I knew nothing about. The parents were ushered into the cafeteria to get information on the school routine and policies, and also got to meet the PTA and volunteer. Sadly, the same policies I hated at Neil’s school (no homemade treats in class, mandatory fingerprinting of volunteers) were in effect. And Peter thought the orientation was rather condescending, both in person and in print. So we have to be told to turn the TV off at dinnertime, and that we have a public library in our neighborhood? Why not remind us that children need to be fed nutritiously, have a bedtime, and that we shouldn’t beat them, too..

The other surprise was finding out how well supplied the neighborhood school was in contract to Neil’s magnet school. Every year, we had a long list of supplies that needed to be brought in; here, Kelly would have what she needed, though it wouldn’t hurt to give her an extra glue stick or two during the year to have on hand. At the magnet school, most field trips required parents to volunteer their time, vehicle and gasoline; here, there’d be a bus, though volunteer chaperones would likely have to follow the bus in their own car.

It’ll be good for Kelly to have peers to play and work with, since even among the homeschoolers she hasn’t made any fast friends. On the other hand, I’ve had so much success schooling her, as casually as I do, that I worry how well she’ll fit in. On our walk home, she was unusually crabby when we asked her what she’d done, and though she happily talked about her “circle time” later, I hope school doesn’t have a detrimental effect on her.

Nevertheless, I called the district to see if her place on the waitlist had changed considerably: she’s still 47th in line, which most likely means there’s no chance she’ll get into the magnet, much less get Neil’s wonderful kindergarten teacher.

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