Tuesday, November 20, 2012

PreK crap

I need advice.

I've had issues with the local preK program here that Dolly is required by the State to attend. For example, I got a nasty note sent home awhile back saying I was required to have her do her homework in crayon or pencil - marker was not allowed. (Yes...homework in preK. Barf!)

I followed up that note with my own letter siting what is developmentally appropriate for children like my daughter. I copied this article and referenced the section that specifically deals with this topic.

Since that time Dolly has stopped receiving homework. In fact, I no longer get a daily note from the teacher letting me know what kind of a day Dolly had. (She always had "green" days before so I'm not too worried.) Until today, I was thrilled. I always had Dolly finish the worksheets. They just didn't get done every day. I had her do them at times that was convenient for our family. Because honestly, Dolly is behind developmentally. I need her in a stable home environment where she can just be a kid. It's more important for her to process her trauma and deal with that on a daily basis than it is for her to trace the letter M twenty-four times.

Today Dolly brought home a bunch of finished work today and one of the items has a note on top "Homework! Done in class!"  --- Yikes! Does this mean that Dolly is being expected to do the stupid homework worksheets she used to get on top of all the other "work" she's supposed to do each day at school?

Do I need to say anything to the teacher?

Dolly seems to enjoy school. She tells me this daily. She looks forward to the bus coming. So the fact that she is being given extra work to do AT school doesn't seem to be a problem.

Though, she did come home from school crying last Friday because she had a lot of work to do.

Dolly can't answer questions. She really can't. If I was to ask her about the work she does at school it's likely that she would freeze up and not say anything. Abstract questions are nearly impossible for her to answer. The fact that I got anything out of her last Friday when she was upset was a miracle. And even then all I could get her to say was, "I'm crying 'cause my teacher said I have a lot of work to do". She couldn't elaborate at all. She might have just been having an off day and didn't want to do the crap they assign her every single day. Or, she might have been upset because the teacher is truly expecting too much out of her daily.

MY problem though is, I HATE confrontation. I do not want to get into things with Dolly's teacher. It just doesn't seem worth it. And since it is very likely that Dolly will be moving to Dallas in January, is it worth it for me to do anything now?

Now let's play the "what if" game....
What IF (if if if if if if if if if if)....What IF Dolly gets to stay in January? What IF we are granted PMC? Do I keep Dolly in public school? Or do I pull her home to homeschool? 'Cause let's be honest here, I don't think I'm capable of homeschooling four or five kids. But the public school SUCKS. I pulled my three forever kids for so many reasons and none of them was because I had a burning desire to homeschool. Dolly is behind developmentally. She's going to need help catching up. Can I provide that at home?

Enough of the WHAT IF game. Just thought I'd give y'all another peek into my level of crazy.

Anyway...what would you do if Dolly was your kid and you were required to send her to a crappy school with crappy teachers that don't know or understand a thing about trauma?!


shellyx6 said...

I personally don't think children should be doing worksheets in pre-k. I understand the need for "kindergarten readiness" but there are many other ways to accomplish those goals. Bless her heart, she's so young and already upset about school? :( Are you required to send her to that particular school? Have you had a sit down with the teacher and explained (within limits of course) that Dolly isn't up to par developmentally as some of her peers and as such should perhaps have her "work" modified? If it were my own child I would have a conference with the teacher and perhaps the administration. I would feel the same way with a foster child.
I must say to you....I found your blog when I was visiting another foster blog. You and I shared some back and forth (not in agreement) and I thought you did well in defending your position! ;)You didn't come off as confrontational at all - just defending your position. Approach this teacher in the same manner, state the problem and try to work out a solution. I find it disturbing that you are no longer receiving daily/weekly notes. To me, that sounds passive aggressive on the teachers part.
By the way, I enjoy your blog and have admiration for the way you nurture your loves.

Anonymous said...

I understand your dilemma. I agree that worksheets in pre k are stupid. And homework? Even in K my kids only had a packet for homework that needed to be done by the end of the week. All that said, why not just wait until January and see what happens? Either way, at that time, you'll probably need to see the teacher to discuss transitions (whether Dolly leaving or Dolly staying) and if you need to keep her in pre-k then, you can discuss it if it's still a problem. January isn't too many school weeks away.

Rhonda said...

I've raised 2 kids in a crappy public school system and have a grandson in pre-K (private daycare setting) I would immediately talk to the teacher so that your precious Dolly won't be stressed out by too much work at school right now. January doesn't not seem like a long time away to us...But, it is a long time to a little kid. As long as it is approached from the standpoint of what's best for Dolly, surely the teacher will be cooperative. (Am I too naïve?) Anyway, I encourage you to discuss this with her as soon as you can. I hate for little Dolly to have one minute of anxiety over anything! (I've read your blog for a while now and admire all you do for your cherubs!) Just one Nana's opinion, for what its worth :)

shellyx6 said...

This is laying on my heart, sorry to comment twice. Are you allowed to homeschool her? I only ask because I think you mentioned she is required to attend Prek. I pulled my own kids out to homeschool them, then went the cyber route and eventually placed them back in school. There had been a bunch of changes so I felt comfortable sending them back (this was over a 2 year span). Homeschooling is tough, as I'm sure you are aware.Does she qualify for any special svces in school? It really sends a bad message when the teacher stops sending the daily notes home when you tried to point something out that is important. *sigh* Good luck!

CherubMamma said...

@Shelllyx6 - I remember our "conversation". :) I'm glad you didn't see me as being confrontational.

I'd love to be able to dialog with the public school where we are at. Unfortunately, they aren't open to much dialog there. I worked as closely with the administration as I could over the past two years. My forever children attended school there up until this past fall and Pumpkin went there too. It's just an environment that isn't in line with what I believe early childhood should look like. Texas schools are different. I've had kids in school in Iowa, Missouri, Utah, central Texas and here in the Valley. Texas schools are different! And schools on the border of Mexico where we are at now are some of the worst!

And in general, Dolly loves school. Since August there was just that one isolated event this past Friday. I know that Dolly's teacher isn't too fond of me. Because the bio family visits are during the day, Dolly misses school each Wednesday. Her teacher wanted me to switch Dolly from afternoon class to morning PreK on Wednesdays only so she wouldn't miss any school and I shot that down immediately. Dolly has permission to miss school and I'm going to take them up on it. I don't like her in a five day program. QUALITY preK has its place. My mom was one of the country's best preschool teachers. But the schools available down here pretty much all stink!

No, Dolly isn't required to attend "that" school. But the waiting list for Head Start is too long and because of that I was told I had to put her in public PreK. I suppose I could seek out a different elementary school. But all of the public schools down here are subject to the Texas education rules so I doubt I'd find anything different anywhere else.

I have tried to explain - ever so briefly - Dolly's situation to her teacher. And the note I sent along with that article that I linked to in the blog post made reference to Dolly being "behind" and the reasons for it. I was completely blown off though. The teacher never responded to my note.

I flip between Peaceliving's response and what Rhonda said. Do I say something now because there are four and 1/2 weeks of school left before court? Or...because there are only 4 1/2 weeks of school until court...do I just wait and see what happens? It seems like such a short amount of time and I know I'm likely to be blown off. I don't want to make things worse for Dolly at school either.

I know if a miracle happens and the kids stay with us yet again I WILL have to talk to Dolly's teacher for sure.

I'm probably going to chicken out with confrontation until January tough. Your argument Nana Rhonda is quite strong. And if Dolly EVER shows stress about school again I promise I will say something. But unless someone else convinces me, I'm probably going to wait until January.

CherubMamma said...

@Shelly - comment all you want. I value dialog greatly! I love to hear other points of view!!

But no, I'm not allowed to homeschool. Texas only allows homeschooling of foster children in very rare circumstances and I think it has to be approved by a judge.

In a way I got extremely lucky!! Every foster child in Texas is required to be school by age three. Even though I've had these kids for 17 months now, they didn't have to start school until just this past fall. Last year Dolly remained on the waiting list at Head Start until January. When an opening came up her worker let me pass because...Dolly was "supposed" to go to Dallas to be with Grandma in February. And even though Dude turned three in December last year, they didn't make me put him on the waiting list because everyone was convinced the kids were leaving us anyway. The fact I had them at home with me as long as I did is something I'm very grateful for.

I think I might send a quick note to the teacher and ask why her daily little check mark sheet isn't coming home. Even if I don't address the "homework" issue, I should get an answer to this part of the problem right away. I suppose I shouldn't have blown it off really.

I'm not sure if Dolly would qualify for services at school anymore. She was in private speech therapy for quite awhile but I ended up having to pull her due to some stupid new Medicaid rules here in the Valley that made it impossible for me to continue services. Her therapist at the time was close to graduating Dolly from services though so neither of us were too concerned.

Thank you for the concern. If nothing else it's nice to know that I'm not alone in thinking this is all out of whack. :)

chicks3 said...

I am a fairly recxently retired elementary teacher. I never received any training on working with children who were in foster care or from traumatic backgrounds. I have learned so much from reading blogs. Anyhow this teacher probably has had little to no training or experience. This does not excuse her from discontinuing the notes and blowing you off. You might need to set sup a conference with the principal, the teacher, and any support personnel but wait until January. By the way assigning homework is usually a school decision and not the individual teacher's.

CherubMamma said...

@Chicks3 -- A lot of people that I would think should know more about trauma don't get any training on the subject. Not only do teachers get included in that group - but doctors and nurses often do too. It shakes me up just a bit.

And yes, the homework being assigned is a school thing....or, in the case of Texas...probably a State thing. Every school I've seen here in the Valley offers up homework starting in preschool. Even Dude (age 3) gets it at Head Start. I was just able to talk some reason with his teacher. He has permission to not do it. She sees the value in play! (Especially play with the kinds of high quality toys we have in our home. ie: lacing cards, small manipulatives for fine motor skills, a swing set for gross motor play and oh so much more.)

I don't fault the teacher completely. But then again, I heard a parent in Dude's class actually ask for the teacher to send MORE homework. Despite Dude's teacher telling me she's not in favor of homework, she caved. Sure enough, the next time a homework folder was sent home it had seven worksheets in it. (To be done over the course of 3 days -- or in our case, not at all. LOL)

It's hard to convince most folks that worksheets just aren't appropriate for preschool or kindergarten. I realize that I'm in the minority. I can't help myself though. My mom has taught me so much about what a QUALITY program looks like. Early childhood education can be a wonderful thing filled with tons of enriching activities that promote a lifetime of learning. I just don't see that level of education available at all where I live.

One caveat though -- I must mention that there are GOOD teachers lost in a bad system here in Texas. Both TT and Bart had the same WONDERFUL teacher for 1st grade. She was so understanding. She was compassionate, calm and helpful when TT struggled with emotional battles. And for Bart, she was a saint. He's an incredibly bright child and she kept him engaged and busy all year long. Now that I'm homeschooling I can see the wonderful things that she did for each of my boys. I don't mean to bash on every teacher here in the Valley. I just haven't had experiences with enough of them for me to subject my forever children to brick and mortar schooling here again!

Rhonda said...

Just wondering if you ever hear from Pumpkin's family. I hope they have all adjusted and are doing okay.

sheldonanddenise said...

oh my... that's just nuts!!! My little guy was very delayed when he came to us through foster care. He had been a product of daycare, pre-school, etc. because the kiddos were treated like "cattle", he just followed the crowd and never had real one on one teaching he became even further behind and started having other problems manifest. We sent him to day care one day a week because we thought we had to "socialize" him. WRONG!!! He became soooo stressed out and was "written up" EVERY week for 2 years. I felt like I was going to the principles office every time I went to pick him up. When we decided to quit daycare/preschool and keep him home with us, he grew and grew and grew in so many areas. The teachers didn't understand his situation, despite my talking to them until I had nothing more to say. He still had bio-visits to deal with and it was just too much. He needed to be in one place with the same people as much as possible. It's crazy homeschooling lots of littles but so worth it. Don't put the pressure on yourself to have school look a certain way. I hope and pray you get to keep your babes. No little person should have the work load of a school-ager. Their job is learning how to be a loved, secure, contributing member of the family ~ super hard thing when you're a foster kid. We learned first hand, that when his heart started healing, everything else started falling in place and on his time schedule, milestones were met. Our journey is still a long hard one, but God has not asked us to build an ark in the middle of the desert. We need to love them, love them, love them and enjoy doing life with them. You're an amazing Mama and God has hand picked you for your littles at this point in their lives!!! May He bless you amazingly as you continue to serve Him! Denise

Jennifer said...

I would say you should contact the teacher, but in an information seeking way. That way, if nothing changes and/or Dolly continues to complain, you have grounds to make a bigger deal out of it. Maybe inquire if the teacher has changed the way that she keeps in touch with parents because you have noticed that she no longer sends a not home each day. Make it seem like you want to help... "is there a better way that I can keep in touch with you so that we can work together to keep Dolly on track?" or something like that. Also, just mention Dolly's comment about school and the workload, but try very hard to make it seem like you support the teacher as in "you know better what is going on in the class than me. has anything changed with Dolly in the classroom to make her say this? is there anything I can do at home to help her?". start by trying to support to teacher and see what happens. then if you do get to keep them and nothing has changed in a month or so, you could guilt free bring it up to the principle since you have already tried to work with the teacher.

Loosey said...

Skip the teacher and the principal. Go to the school board with your article. Find out who the Curriculum Specialist and Supervisor are for your school. Meet with them and ask how they are assuring a developmentally appropriate curriculum, and show them the sheaves of worksheets. Request they help you find an appropriate placement for your kids.