Sunday, June 3, 2012

Kindergarten: The preview

So our district does something called Countdown to Kindergarten, in which the kiddies get an hourlong tour of the school and the classrooms, get to ride a school bus (the first week) and get to have a peanut-free snack with the kindergarten kids (the second week). This seemed like a good thing, so I signed kiddo up.

Incidentally: I am totally in favor of kids with peanut allergies not dying, but planning lunches and snacks around said allergies can be frustrating. In that kiddo is supposed to be getting more protein, and nuts and peanut butter are among the few types of protein he'll willingly eat. If I could get the kid to like a turkey and Swiss on whole wheat, it would be less of a pain. Also (said the school nurse at orientation) you can't bring cupcakes or cookies or whatever to the school unless you can vouch for every single ingredient in them, and you're supposed to call ahead 48 hours before you're planning on bringing in the whatever so that they can pull the allergy records for the class and see what you need to watch for. Lemon ice is always fine, apparently.

If it seems like parents are more neurotic than they were a generation ago, it's because most parents a generation ago could give their kids PBnJs for lunch -- or bring in cupcakes for the kid's birthday -- without worrying about accidentally killing another kid. Just saying.

The night before Countdown, I lay awake and worried. Because of the school bus. Kiddo has had a tendency to run in front of vehicles lately. I imagined him getting away from the coordinator, running circles around the bus, the driver not noticing ...

He was of course thrilled to be going to the big school, and while we were waiting in the office with his usual security-blanket Matchbox car, another little boy came in with his mom, and while the other mom (nice) and I chatted, the two of them instantly bonded over the car, rolling back and forth to each other across the floor (until they started to throw it to each other and then I had to step in).

The coordinator turned out to be a PTA member who's been doing this program for years. I quietly explained to her that I knew parents weren't supposed to stick around, but that my son has ADHD and is liable to run, especially around buses. She said no problem, we'll keep an eye on him. And then promptly made him the line leader, so he would stay right in front and they'd know exactly where he was. Smart. He was delighted to be line leader, even if he didn't know what it meant.

They all trooped off, I ran errands for an hour, I came back, he was fine. The coordinator explained to me that her teenage son has it too, so she knew how to handle it. The more I talk to people, the more ADHD kids I find. Just never kiddo's age, I guess.

Week #2 was less dramatic. I packed an apple and a yogurt smoothie and sent him off. He was line leader again, and he had a good time. 

So at least we know he can handle kindergarten for an hour at a time, right?

They also did kindergarten screenings last week -- apparently this is new. They use the Brigance program to see if kids are gifted or have learning disabilities, or anything else they should worry about, and then the results help them determine the makeup of the classes as well as whether any kids are going to need extra help in anything in September. It seems like a good idea to me, but then we already know our kid needs help (and I remind every school official I meet that he's already approved for a 504. Because I am that mom). I'm genuinely curious to see what the test comes up with. The parents had to wait in the lobby while the kids were tested, so I can't say what they were doing, but the survey we were asked to fill out had questions like, "Does your child know his first and last name? Can he stand on one foot? Can he count to 10? 20? 30? Can he play well with other children?" That sort of thing. Basic knowledge, basic social skills. They'll send us the results. The official running the testing did say he'd done well, and seemed to find him quite charming, as many adults do.

Of course, he's always charming when he's meeting new people or something interesting is going on. Less so when he's bored, upset or being asked to do schoolwork.

I think the next thing we're supposed to worry about is buying all the supplies on the checklist, but I am so waiting until August on that one.

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