This summer is going to be a big one for us. We will be moving into a new house – a new neighbourhood – and we will be crossing the bridge between preschool into real, not-even-kidding elementary school.
Kindergarten is happening, and shit is getting real, people. Full-day Kindergarten, with full-sized backpacks, with full-sized water bottles, and full-sized anxiety clutching my heart.
Our little Lila is going to be our first babe to cross the threshold from nestling to a kid who spends the majority of her day learning, and playing, and being her very own person. Without me .
And despite all of the normal (or so I’m told?) worries that I have about adjusting… about making friends… and about having recess with the “big kids” on the playground… I also worry about the academic part of Kindergarten. I want to make sure that she walks in with a solid foundation.
And this is where I’m going to sound like a headcase, so come along with me on this ride o’ Tiger Mother.
I’ve always felt that doing creative things at home was worth encouraging – even insisting upon. Come on, girls, let’s paint! Let’s colour/bake/hunt for bugs/try to sew with paper plates…
But when it comes to sitting down with pencil and paper, I wonder: Am I helping? Or hindering?
Is this pressure? Or is this giving my kid a leg-up?
Our preschool offers enrichment reading and writing classes for preschoolers. My mother has told me that I was reading by the time I entered kindergarten (but not as well as my other three sisters were when THEY entered school). I just read a post where people were having an excited dialogue in the comments because a mother wrote about how she read her five year old’s diary. Readers debated whether a five year old was warranted privacy… should her mother have read her diary??!
I, instead, let my mouth hang open. “Your FIVE YEAR OLD is writing in a diary!? You’re kidding me with this, right!?”
So should I be doing something about this?
Is it worthwhile to sit down and do some tracing of letters? To practice phonics? Maybe count out a few beans before she flatly refuses to eat them and they were scraped off of her plate?
I’m not going to lie to you guys. I went out and bought some exercise books. And some fancy pencils, scissors, an electric pencil sharpener and some Pink Pearl erasers. If I was going to be starting Mama’s Little Homeschool, I was at least going to look the part.
I sat down, got the timer, set it for 10 minutes… and we were off. Here we go, kiddo. We’re going to learn to read.
But I sometimes falter when Lila says things like, “Mooo-ooom…. this is hard. I don’t KNOW these sounds.”
She gives me a face that I recognize; it’s the one I had seen on some of my past students – teenaged students who had spent years practicing this phrase until it slipped out of their mouths almost without them realizing: “I don’t know.”
I know that there are so many ways to make learning fun and involving colour and kinesthetics and craft supplies. I’ve read the SuperMom blogs. I’ve seen what Pinterest has to offer.
And sometimes Lila happily plops down next to me and diligently writes out her letters and words and rhyming sounds. And other times, she wrinkles her nose and moans.
Lucy usually haphazardly traces a few letters in her books and then wanders off. Just you wait, child. Your Kindy-orientation is only a year away!
When there are 20 kids in a class to one teacher, and when I see Kindergarten as the beginning of a long journey through years of schooling, I have to wonder: aside from packing her backpack with indoor shoes and lunch kits… should I be packing her brain, too?
I know I’m not yet a Tiger Mother. Lila and Lucy aren’t playing sonatas on the violin or taking six dance classes a week, but I might be slipping into something just slightly less competitive: perhaps Mama Bear Mother? For the most part, I’m content to let the cubs play… but tell me that another cub is writing in a flipping diary and/or reading Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and I’ll be marching my butt over to the Bear Teacher Store and buying some supplies.
Call me stubborn or overzealous, but I just can’t help myself.
And I’m thinking about getting my kid a diary.