Friday, September 16, 2011

Random musings after volunteering in the kindergarten classroom

On Back to School Night I signed up to be a classroom volunteer in J's kindergarten class. Since I'm home during the day I figured this would be a good way to get involved. (I did not, however, consider how unbelievably dumb I was to sign up to be a class mom on days after I work. Get off at 8am, go to sleep by 8:30, wake up 3.5 HOURS LATER to get to the class by 12:30pm. Like I said, dumb.)

Wednesday was my first afternoon in the class. It was very eye-opening, a little sociology study right in front of me. I know these are generalizations and even stereotypes but I made a few interesting observations:

  • Boys are waaaaay more fidgety than girls. Something I suspected but only having boys I wasn't sure. My mother has told me this many times after visiting with my kids, that my sisters and I did not jump/run/move around as much as my kids. It was interesting to watch all the kids sitting on a circular rug together in the middle of the room, you could really see how the girls were sitting "criss-cross applesauce" as instructed, talking and giggling but not moving around much; while the boys wiggled, rolled around, pushed/poked each other, kept getting up & down, etc. It was distracting. J was no better than the rest, at one point he must have forgotten I was there because he started crawling around under the chairs.

  • Girls have waaaaay better handwriting than boys. Across the board. Again I suspected this but as we worked on writing exercises it was astounding just how much better the girls' letters/words were. Straight lines. Even spacing. Cute little curlicues or "tails" on some letters. The boys handwriting was.....yeah. Illegible? Chicken scratch? What's the PC word here? Not being an educator of small children, I don't know if it's the difference in motor school development, a difference in attention span (see above), or some Y-chromosome thing I wasn't aware of. Either way, it was noticeable.

  • Boys cry just as much as girls. Maybe more. Actually I think I saved this little factoid to share with my husband more than anyone else. For future arguments.

  • When allowed to pick their own "center" activity, the kids drifted into gender-specific play seemingly subconsciously. All of the girls, ALL of them, headed toward the play house/kitchen/babies area. None of them opted to use the adding magnets, geometric puzzles, or cars. Most of the boys immediately chose cars or airplanes or other vehicles to play with. A few (including J) went for the science/math type stuff. But none of the girls. That made me a little sad.

  • Girls have way more fashion and clothes choices than boys. I didn't realize how much I've been missing out on with 2 sons. Glitter/sparkles. Skirts. Skorts. Dresses. Leggings under skirts/skorts/dresses. Costume jewelry. Bows and headbands and barettes. Braids. Mary Janes. Floral print, lace, and ruffles. Pink and purple in general. Rainbow stripes and heart motifs.

  • Well, on second thought...I'm glad to be missing out on pink and purple.

Other random thoughts on my Volunteer Day:

  • The teacher is a ROCK STAR. There are too many kids. A few of them have learning/developmental disabilities but are mainstreaming (which I really like). Some of them cry alot. Some (like my little shnookums) are, uh, very active. Some are just...the opposite of well-behaved. Some (J) can read the newspaper while others have obviously and sadly never been exposed to reading/writing of any kind until now. And she handles them all beautifully, with that perfect kindergarten teacher authoritative-but-still-really-nice voice. "We don't do that." "Let's work on sharing and being polite." "My para-professional will now take over while I sip a vodka & Red Bull in the closet." (JUST KIDDING. Maybe.)

  • While I was there they had a special Spirit Day or something where the kids from the local high school came over in their school colors, with the marching band and cheerleaders and football players in jerseys (maybe it was homecoming?), and the little kids stood outside while they had a kind of mini parade. It was weird, disconcerting. The high school kids looked huge yet impossibly young, and it suddenly didn't seem that far away for J and Jr. I had that sense that the next 12 years are going to FLY by. I wished kindergarten could last forever.

  • Another teacher stopped by with a birthday gift for J's teacher, whose birthday was the Sunday before. As in, September 11. Unthinkingly, I was all, "Your birthday is on 9/11? That must be weird." She just looked at me. I lost my gold star for that day.

  • So far, this school district and school have been impressive. I don't know if we could have done better with private school or a charter. J is doing well. He likes his teacher and she's been able to give him what he needs academically. The building is not new but the classrooms are beautiful and they seem to have decent resources. The class is very diverse without trying to be very diverse. The school feels safe and happy and modern in its thinking but traditional enough that it's not really that different from when I was in kindergarten 30 years ago. Which is a good thing. J has friends. He's happy.

  • I am 100% most definitely in the right profession, dealing with wild animals all day instead of wild children. One word: leashes.


LauraC said...

OMG... leashes. That killed me.

I have many of the same observations. Can't talk much on my blog about kindergarten since some people in the neighborhood read my blog. Have to word everything carefully.

Lindsay said...

Ditto on all but the fashion choices (hello, cutie cutie plaid uniforms!). I helped two little girls with a craft involving glue and beans... SO EASY. The boys were nuts. Beans everywhere. Glue everywhere. The boys finished quickly, while the girls were more meticulous.

Love the leashes comment! I just could NOT deal with the chaos!

Karen said...

Having a boy and a girl has opened my eyes to the lack of fashion choices for boys. I bet a creative person could make a killing designing more interesting choices for boys. Sounds like you had a nice time!

Julie said...

Um, yes there are a ridiculous amount of cute clothing options for girls. My name is Julie and I have an addiction to buying clothes for my girls. Seriously, their closets are embarrassing. And I always look like a jeans and T shirt kind of gal, but my girls are sparkly and fashionable!

After volunteering in the classroom, I am always overwhelmed and overstimulated. I have often thought, there must be a little somethin somethin in that water bottle on the teachers desk. How could she cope otherwise?

Beth said...

LOVE your observations Desi. Hysterical. And I totally agree on the fashion choices. I want someone to come up with a line of clothes for boys where every single shirt would match every single pair of pants or shorts. And not plain, boring stuff. And not stupid sayings on the clothes, either. Nice graphics, nice colors. I'm dreaming, right?