I have come away from The Kid's first visit to school so shocked and traumatised that I don't even think I should be writing about it. Five minutes ago (when both kids were happily playing in the living room) I actually went in the laundry room, shut the door and sobbed for several minutes, before wiping away the tears and coming back in the living room, and telling myself to just breathe.
How it's even possible that:
a) I've missed it in all the research I've done and all the people I've talked to, and that
b) anyone would want to put their 5-year-old into such a learning environment, and that
c) there is going to be a good end to this, I know - I know! - there is going to be a good end to this. But... how?
I have researched and prepared for this transition to school for over a year. I have done extensive googling, I have read through all Education Review Office reports, I have talked to various support people from Ministry of Education, I have met with the school - several times. I have spent time in the classroom, on the playground. I keep an eye out, on an almost daily basis, for various educational research and just think - think! - and talk - talk! - with The Man on what we want from the school for our kids.
And yet today I walked into the classroom with The Kid, sat down on the mat to spend our first lesson with them, and within about half an hour I was thinking, oh my God, IS THIS WHAT THEY DO ON A DAILY BASIS!? WITH FIVE-YEAR-OLDS!?
There is a puddle of tears on the table in front of the laptop. Seriously, as I am typing this, I have tears rolling down off my cheeks and gathering into a puddle on the table.
What I saw today in that classroom goes so much against the grain of what I feel and think about early childhood education that I am sick to my stomach just thinking about the amount of googling I am going to do this weekend trying to figure out, on what planet this makes sense.
Accelerated Learning. I am going to google the heck out of what they call Accelerated Learning and I am going to track down who exactly thinks that this is good for children, and why they think it.
And whilst I would want to type here for another two hours explaining to you what I saw this morning, I won't, because I actually have two kids in the living room who want my attention, so I am going to go and be a mom. I am going to wipe away the tears, wipe away the little puddle on the table, I am going to breathe in, and out, and breathe in, and out, and trust that in the end, it'll work out.
Everything always does. In the end, everything always does.
But jesus do I feel like I've been hit in the stomach right now and struggling to breathe through the shock of HOW DOES THIS MAKE SENSE and HOW DID I MISS IT.
Edited to add: if I were living somewhere where we had some sort of a familial / social support system in place, grandparents maybe or good friends who were not at work at 1 pm on a Friday, I would call someone right now and say, please, please can you come to my home and just chill out in the living room for an hour whilst my kids take an afternoon nap so I can go for a walk and just breathe.
As much as I am trying to do some googling at the moment so I can get my head around what the hell is happening in the FIRST YEAR of this Invercargill central city primary school, I am not having much success. One, it's hard to read through tears. Two, I am feeling such a deep-seated revolt against what looked like a racelike, competition-based system of fast repetition that I really am not in a headspace to do unbiased research.
Kids under seven can learn numbers and letters and reading - of course they do - but if they do it through repetition and sight recognition rather than a systematic understanding of what reading is, and developing skills for learning (and mostly through play!!!), then from what I know it doesn't actually manifest itself in any benefit later in life. All it does is achieve kids who recognise letters and numbers better at 5 years old, but who are no better readers or mathematicians by age 10.
I'm sorry, but this is so f*cked up.
Edited to add 2: Do you know that feeling when you've sobbed for several hours and finally stop because you're all "sobbed out" and just so tired that the tears stay back from tiredness and what feels like inflammation of the tear ducts? Face puffy but mouth finally quiet?
That. I've got that now.
And it also means that I am now spending time talking to people on the phone because I am "talkable" again, rather than trying to gasp for breaths between sobs.
I struggle to believe that this is happening, but I am actually making arrangements to meet with another school Monday morning. I am thoroughly embarrassed and incredulous that this is even happening, but I cannot change the past so I can only look towards the future now and ask - again, and again, and again - what is important, and what's more important than other important stuff, and then we are going to, yet again, find some sort of a middle ground in all this.
F*ck this is so f*cked up.
And, man!, do I need people to talk to right now. Friends, family, education workers - anyone who's willing to discuss and share, maybe wait out a sob or two on my end, without trying to sell me some sort of an agenda.
I need to figure out if what was happening in this class this Friday morning was some sort of a "special" Friday morning where they were repeating the heck out of material they've covered earlier in the week and if it was, maybe, meant to be some sort of a "intensive" hour and a half of solidifying at a great pace which - at least to me - looked like something which was leaving several children way behind because they were simply not capable of working in such a manner.
Because if it was not - if this is what they do every day and how this teacher, in general, approaches 5- and 6-year-olds in her class...
F*ck, sorry, but this is just...