Baby geniuses

24Jan07

Last weekend, Makenna and I drove around our side of town in a fury to find a preschool. For some reason, the preschools around here have open houses and enrollment the exact same day and time in January. For next fall. It is so strange.

So I was all caught up the the mayhem, trying to find a spot for Makenna amid a few scant openings.

I typically shrug-off preschool for three-year-olds. But in this area, you have to get your child in somewhere so you have priority the following year for a Pre-K spot. These schools fill up so fast, you really can’t miss out. It’s all so exhausting.

I won’t bore you with the minutia of detail about the entire goose chase. But I have to talk about the first place we visited — it took the cake.

We visited XYZ School (Pre-K thru 8th grade). It was an ominous structure that looked like the Monticello in white stucco. I felt like I was walking Makenna into boarding school. Bye sweetie, see you at Thanksgiving break! The principal greeted us at the door, gave Makenna a juice box while I juggled the informational baggie and a slice of pound cake with my frightened daughter in my arms. We walked down the hallway as the principal talked about the founder of the school — she was once a first grade teacher, and was sickened by the poor academic performance of children emerging from kindergarten. She founded the school and is still head of curriculum. I was starting to feel uneasy.

We stopped to look at the three-year-old artwork. They don’t stress creativity in their art program as much as they align art with the science curriculum. They learn about trucks, they learn to draw rectangles and circles. Hmmm. All three-year-olds learn to write their name by the end of the year. Okay. They learn consonant blends. MmmHmm. By the time they enter the Pre-K program at four, they will be able to count to 1oo forward and backward and count by 2’s, 5’s and 10’s.

HUH? “I didn’t do that until 3rd grade!” I exclaimed. “Exactly, that is what this school is all about,” Miss Principal explained. “Children under the age of six are capable of so much. If you don’t teach them now, their brains will shrivel. All hope is lost by the time they are in 2nd grade.” Okay, she didn’t say that exactly, but it sure was close!

She spoke on about daily spelling drills, how they don’t believe in rewarding student achievement, how putting my daughter in the three day/half-day program won’t give her the full benefit of the curriculum, and that each child is expected to write a report about the life affirmation of Natasha Rostova in Tolstoy’s War and Peace before moving onto the four-year-old class. My mind was entirely fogged over. I was scared.

We finally made it to one of the rooms, which was cute. Makenna jumped into the colored shapes on the floor and yelled out “red circle! yellow square!” I already knew this wasn’t the right place. The facility was nice, the teachers seemed great, but the curriculum! The attitude! The brain shriveling!

While sitting in the parking lot of the next school, I leafed through the application for scary XYZ School. To apply, the parent must initial this “recital”:

I acknowledge that XYZ School is not a daycare, but rather a private school with rigorous academic requirements; that other private schools are available in this area, but that I choose to enroll my child in XYZ School because of the curriculum, values, teaching techniques, and behavior management that reinforce my family’s commitment to academic studies.
I understand that there are many academically aggressive schools out there. As a teacher myself, I fully respect their place in this crappy public education system. Maybe these schools are excellent for older, more academically gifted children. But yikes! These are THREE-YEAR-OLDS!
Anyhoo, we found a great place and Makenna is all signed up. For next fall. It’s so silly, but that’s what it takes. I chose a place that has good curriculum, but lets kids be kids while they learn some good stuff along the way. Afterall, I don’t want anybody harshing on my sweet Makenna if she can’t memorize her times tables.
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2 Responses to “Baby geniuses”

  1. 1 little e

    awe, poor little one. So much expectation! Way to put it to ’em and not sign up. šŸ˜›

  2. 2 KT

    Thank you for not making Makenna attend Stepford Academy


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