I’m starting to feel better about M not going back to her school after winter break. She is not excited about going… in fact, this morning she told me several times that she didn’t want to go, she was too tired, it wasn’t fun, etc. When I picked her up and asked her several times what she did at school today, she quietly replied, “What the teachers told me to.”
Ouch. That statement just hits me right in the gut. It’s a new school year, and instead of the very family-like classroom of 14 students and two teachers they now have 22 kids and three teachers (one is for the ISD children). It’s chaotic and I imagine that instead of playing and exploring together like last year, they are mostly enforcing rules there right now. I went in to pick up M after lunch but the message I had given hadn’t been delivered to the lead teacher, and they’d taken her back to the class for quiet time. I went into the class and stood there for a few minutes… neither of the two teachers in there noticed me. I went to M’s cot across the room and sat by her, and told her we were going, and only then did another kid tell a teacher that a grown up had entered the room! No wonder she doesn’t want to go now… she’s just a number, an object on a conveyor belt, in that situation.
Maybe it seems like I’m being too harsh on the teachers, but the fact of the matter is that the lead teacher is wonderful and nurturing and yet completely stuck in a system that does not support that kind of environment. Too many children, not enough teachers, too little space. Children do not get to develop autonomy, nor do they benefit from close relationships and connections with the teachers. Instead of cooperating because they feel respected and connected, they behave poorly because they don’t feel seen or heard.
Instead of leaving M happy and excited to play with her friends and teachers, I walked away feeling guilty that I took her there at all. It’s not ok, for our family anyway, to institutionalize her like that if she doesn’t want it. So… I think her last day of school there may be less bittersweet than I thought.