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#1 of 26 Old 03-18-2006, 10:29 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi, I'd like to start out saying that I'm really looking for some positive input and advise about what to about my son regarding his montessori school. I am open to critisism but please keep it to the [I]creative[I] kind.

My son is almost 3 1/2. He has been going to a Montessori school here since Jan. He goes from 9 to 12. Based on who my son is, I really felt like this would be a positive thing for him. He is very social and enjoys the company of other kids alot. We just moved to a new town last Oct. so I thought this would be a perfect way for him to get to know some new kids. Basically, he hates it. Every day still, he says he doesn't want to go. It has gotten better as far as now he doesn't cry when I leave him there. The teacher no longer has to tear him out of my arm while he's screaming for me not to leave him. But other things have happened that are sort of red flags to me. There was an incident where he wanted to show me a painting he had done that day but was still in the drying rack and I think I pissed off the teacher when he dragged me over to see it (most of the kids were leaving at this point and I didn't think it was a problem) and she told him it wasn;t dry and it really was...not a huge deal. The other day he told me he had bright orange gold fish for snack. I'm blown away that they are serving gold fish cracker (and the ones w/ dyes even!) Then last week they had an antique toy show from the museum come and parents were welcome (I was only 1 of 2 parents that did come) and there was a little girl who requested to use the bathroom 2 times and then on the third the director said to the helper who was going to take her "It's not humanly possible for her to have to go again" and wouldn't let her go. This was especially disturbing for me because I had bladder problems growing up and had I been in that girls shoes (actually I have been in her shoes), I would have peed my pants. I have a parent teacher conference coming up in 2 weeks and plan on talking w/ the teacher.

Basically this could be a really great school but I really don't think it's working for me or my son. So many people have raved about this school and so I can't figure out why it isn't working. I don't plan on enrolling him in the fall but I don't know what to do about the current session. My dp thinks it not a big deal to have him keep going (he's also not keen on loosing the $250 deposit) but I'm feeling torn. Am I damaging him by forcing him to go there everyday when I know he doesn't want to? The times I've talked to the teacher about his unhappiness she responds w/ and almost generic "oh, he's doing just great, stops crying right after you leave" or some such thing. But it doesn't set right in my heart. I'm feeling bad that maybe I've pushed him to early to do something he wasn't ready for but now don't know how to undo it. Or if undoing it is the right thing. I'm pregnant right now and feeling so emotional and just really want to do the right thing for him. So any thoughtful, wise words would be sooo greatly appreciated right now.
Thanks mama's (sorry so long)
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#2 of 26 Old 03-18-2006, 11:35 PM
 
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Mama. I'm sorry your son is having a rough time. School should be a fun and enjoyable place. I think you need to follow your heart. I'm not understanding why his teacher wouldn't let him show you his painting, seems odd to me. As for the goldfish crackers, do the parents bring snack? I understand you not wanting him to eat them but the M school my dd went to last yr also allowed them for a snack. It was truly a wonderful school and honestly I didn't have any issues with that as a snack... but I can see why you may. I think it's horrible that the little girl wasn't allowed to use the restroom, who's to say whether or not she needed to go besides her? That is a huge problem I have with many schools. I think it's bizarre to have to ask permission to use the bathroom and even worse to be denied a bodily function like that. Luckily my dd's school the children were free to use the bathroom anytime they needed, not sure how they would handle it on field trips but I agree with you, it's not okay! I would definitely bring up your concerns at the conference or sooner if you are considering taking him out. Hope it all gets better. Is there any other M schools in your area? I'm sure you've realized that M schools vary as do M teachers (as well as any school for that matter) so maybe you can find something that's a better fit. And I truly believe that everything happens for a reason. I loved, loved, loved my dd's Montessori school but sadly we were unable to afford it for more than one year and I've since fallen in love with the idea of homeschooling and while I'd still love Montessori for my children I feel this may just be what was meant to be.

Good luck Mama

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#3 of 26 Old 03-19-2006, 12:53 AM
 
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Sorry I don't have many wise words to offer, just my opinion but I'd definitely go with my gut here... A red flag for me would also be the teacher's vague/generic responses about how your son is doing after you leave. Being a preschool teacher myself, I would've offered more concrete examples of how he is "fine" and provide a worried mother documentation (in the form of pictures and scripts of dialogues he engages in) to show his comfort level during his time there.

You say you're unsure if "undoing it is the right thing". It sounds to me like your son is asking you to undo it the only way he knows how. Trust him.

(And this may or may not apply to your situation but for what it's worth, I've had a montessori teacher tell me that a montessori classroom is often not the best match for boys and her dream was an all-girls mont.preschool.)
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#4 of 26 Old 03-19-2006, 01:47 AM
 
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mama, I think you know what the right thing to do is...listening to your son. I would go with what your gut reaction and his gut reaction is telling you.

Oh, and NHMomof2 - that is just so wrong, about no boys and all girls. Have issues much with boy energy? That is so, so horrible. At our child's school, they balance the sexes equally through the admissions process, and I think it's a better school/classroom for it. Her last school only had one or two boys in the classroom, and it became quite vicious...
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#5 of 26 Old 03-19-2006, 03:56 AM
 
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I totally agree that the little girl should have been able to use the bthroom based on her perceived need to go. In my class, it is not an issue since the bathrooms are in the room, the child can use it at will. You did not mention what happened next (was the little girl ok with not going again?) Where are the bathrooms located?
In our class, the children make bread or muffins, wash and cut celery, carrots, apples, etc for their snack table. Hopefully the children are assisting some way in the setup and cleanup...
I also disagree with the directress "tearing him out of your arms" to get him to come into the room. While I have had to gently insist that certain children stay put once the parent has left, s/he should be able to walk into the room on his own two feet from the beginning. However, it sounds like you have gotten over this aspect since he is now walking in on his own.
Can you set up an appointment for an observation? this way you can see for yourself what is going on after you leave! I have had a few children for whom this is also true (tears when saying goodbye mostly in the beginning of the school year but once the child finds something to do, s/he is happy at work for the rest of the morning.
At the conference, discuss your child's individual interests, this may help the directress make a better connection with him.
Also, how about getting together with a child or two from the class on the weekend?
On the subject of boys, I wish you could see the happy, peaceful and busy little boys in our class. They love to help fold laundry, sweep the floors as well as work with the other manipulatives. We have had a great experience having both genders in this environment.

My sweetie and I have a lovely little lady 07/02 and 3 cats
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#6 of 26 Old 03-19-2006, 03:58 AM
 
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I totally agree that the little girl should have been able to use the bathroom based on her perceived need to go. In my class, it is not an issue since the bathrooms are in the room, the child can use it at will. You did not mention what happened next (was the little girl ok with not going again?) Where are the bathrooms located? Maybe this is a repeat scenario.
In our class, the children make bread or muffins, wash and cut celery, carrots, apples, etc for their snack table. Hopefully the children are assisting some way in the setup and cleanup...
I also disagree with the directress "tearing him out of your arms" to get him to come into the room. While I have had to gently insist that certain children stay put once the parent has left, s/he should be able to walk into the room on his own two feet from the beginning. However, it sounds like you have gotten over this aspect since he is now walking in on his own.
Can you set up an appointment for an observation? this way you can see for yourself what is going on after you leave! I have had a few children for whom this is also true (tears when saying goodbye mostly in the beginning of the school year but once the child finds something to do, s/he is happy at work for the rest of the morning).
At the conference, discuss your child's individual interests, this may help the directress make a better connection with him.
Also, how about getting together with a child or two from the class on the weekend?
On the subject of boys, I wish you could see the happy, peaceful and busy little boys in our class. They love to help fold laundry, sweep the floors as well as work with the other manipulatives. We have had a great experience having both genders in this environment.

My sweetie and I have a lovely little lady 07/02 and 3 cats
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#7 of 26 Old 03-19-2006, 05:10 AM
 
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It's so important to follow our gut. If you can, I would suggest sitting in for a day and observing the classroom. It is hard to watch a parent leave when their child is having a hard time transitioning. It is, of course not uncommon and so often they orient themselves very quickly after mom has left. I know we always encourage our parents to empower their children when they leave. Be very positive, "you are going to have a great day, I am so glad you are here, I love you, can't wait for you to tell me about all the great things you do today," Leave with a smile of absolute certainty. You must convey to your child with absolute certainty that all is well.
Give them the courage. Listen to their concerns of course, but not at the door of the classroom. If you are bringing them to school, be certain yourself, that it is a safe place for them. If you can't observe with your child present, arrange a time to observe the classroom when he is not there. At the door of the classroom empower your child, and leave. Some of our parents arrange to call in a few minutes to see how things went. It helps some of our children if an assistant engages them quickly, by inviting them to feed the fish or help with the hamster. Some children just need to come in slowly at their own pace. I always found with my own child, he needed to engage with an assistant or the teacher before he could transition, and I asked if they could help me with this. It helped mine to make my goodbye brief, positive and leave immediately. I used to have a good cry all the way home. It's hard to leave your child when they are so upset. In our classroom the children who struggle with transitions do better with brief goodbyes. If parents linger with worry, and concern, they feel it, and respond accordingly. Those that have a hard time transitioning do well to come on time, or a little early. I know how you feel, the bathroom situation would give me pause too, and then again, there may be more to the story. Follow your heart, and check it out, find a place that you feel safe, where you trust the teachers. I have found over the years that my overall love and trust of the teacher and the assistant made room for errors judgement on their part as well as mine. Each child is a journey for all of us on their path. I wish you the best, hang in there, you will find your right place.
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#8 of 26 Old 03-19-2006, 09:54 AM
 
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If you and he think he needs out then take him out. Sending him to a bad thing just because you paid for it is like eating rotten food, then you get sick and "waste" more than if you had just thrown it out.

Is he just to young at 3.5? Try it again next year.

is it the wrong time of day for him? I was a wreck in preschool AM class then my mom changed me to afternoon and I loved it. I am not a morning person and never have been.

Can you stay during the class a few days? Its only three hours. I would say with a 3 year old they should let parents sit in once in a while. If they make you leave I would leave with my kid!!! See how your son interacts with other kids and how things are handled. Take some healthy snacks with you.

A friend has a 3 year old daughter did not want mom to leave her at daycare. So mom worked it out with the school to just bring her in for some special times like story time and a music program. Mom stayed with her during these. Daughter got to loving it and now begs to go more.
Is it possible for him to get a different teacher? sounds like it may be the teacher and not the school. Do different ages, times of day have different teachers?
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#9 of 26 Old 03-19-2006, 11:52 AM
 
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First off, I want to say that I know it's hard to leave a crying child. My DD did the same thing at the beginning of the year. I had made my decision, was confident that this is a good, safe place for her, and wanted to convey to her that I was confident in the decision. So I kept the goodbyes short and sweet and soon (like your son) she was going in without tears. It is a period of adjustment. Of course there are still days when she says she doesn't want to go. Once she is there however, she enjoys her time.
Maybe you could schedule an observation so you can see for yourself what he is doing after you leave!
About the little girl who had to use the bathroom, I feel that she should have been able to go based on her perceived need. In our school, the bathrooms are in the class so the child is free to go at will. Is the bathroom out of the room? Maybe this is a repeat occurrence. Was she ok with not going?
About the goldfish, my problem with that is that there is no cycle of activity involved (no process) In our class, the children bake bread and muffins, wash and slice apples, carrots, celery etc. for their snack table. I do personally feel (like you) that children should be given more natural foods without food coloring, you can discuss this at the conference. Also, discuss your child's interests with the directress, this may help her to make a better connection with him.
I feel that if you pull him out at this time, you may be setting yourself up for a repeat if you try to put him in a different program. KWIM?
Do you think it would help to try a few get togethers on the weekends with another child or two from the class?
I hope this is helpful, let us know how things are going!

My sweetie and I have a lovely little lady 07/02 and 3 cats
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#10 of 26 Old 03-19-2006, 03:44 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Drummers wife, I guess the frustrating part has been that there are quite a few M schools in my area and 3 that were driving distance. One was full, and of the other 2 that I observed this one was the best. My first impressions were great. As far as the painting deal, she seemed annoyed and then when my ds told her it was dry and wanted to take it home she told him it wasn't dry (we had both felt it and it was dry) and it seemed weird to me that she just assumed he was wrong. He looked fully confused when she said this. Then when he asked for a piece of tape so he could roll it up like they usually do, she said no. It really wasn't the biggest deal in the world but all these 'little' deals are starting to add up, yk?
The kids usually go to the bathroom when ever they want but since we were in a different part of the building (for the toy show) they had to have someone go w/ them. I was just appalled that the teacher said that loud enough for pretty much every one to here. I guess if I loved the school, I could deal w/ the gold fish. The parents do bring the snacks and I guess I *naively* thought that anyone who does M would be somewhat aware of not putting crap into kids bodies. I do have him on the wait list for a slightly different type of school that has some M influence but other influences as well but he probably won't get in til the fall.

I guess it just seems also that after this long he should actually want to go instead of putting up a fight every single day.

It's reassuring that you all aren't telling me I'm being over reactive about this. NOw I just have to convince dp of that!
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#11 of 26 Old 03-19-2006, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by NHmomOF2
Sorry I don't have many wise words to offer, just my opinion but I'd definitely go with my gut here... A red flag for me would also be the teacher's vague/generic responses about how your son is doing after you leave. Being a preschool teacher myself, I would've offered more concrete examples of how he is "fine" and provide a worried mother documentation (in the form of pictures and scripts of dialogues he engages in) to show his comfort level during his time there.
Ya, this is very weird to me. I eventually came to talk to her after school and finally got some real seeming responses (I was there cuz my ds kept coming home and telling me kids were calling him stupid baby and other names) but she never has offered me concrete example of why he specifically is fine. She then lent me a copy of Positive Discipline for Preschoolers.
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#12 of 26 Old 03-20-2006, 04:11 AM
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Can you observe the class without your son knowing? In the school I looked at, once the child is dropped off, parents can watch through a one-way-mirror at any point to check up on their child. It seems like direct observation would be the best way to see how your son is doing. The school I looked at also allows parents to send their own snack rather then using the one provided. All schools seem to be different though.

Just my opinion but for a small one, fall is a long time away. I know $250 can be a lot of money but you could consider it a savings in therapy bills later.
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#13 of 26 Old 03-20-2006, 09:19 PM
 
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I have to apologize for the multiple posts, I was having technical difficulty yesterday!

My sweetie and I have a lovely little lady 07/02 and 3 cats
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#14 of 26 Old 03-20-2006, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Somehow I missed seeing a bunch of the posts til just now. Thanks for all of the encouragement mama's. Of course, today was the best day so far... I guess I'm still undecided, still going to do some thinking before the meeting.
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#15 of 26 Old 03-20-2006, 10:36 PM
 
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If you reread your original post, it seems like you should pull him out.

If YOU were really 100% sure that 1) it was the absolute best place in the world for him, and 2) he was ready, then I don't think you'd be thinking about pulling him out. My dd1 had some similar adjustment issues in full day kindergarten (which I am normally against - full day for 5 year olds - but our alternative elementary doesn't offer half day) but I didn't really consider pulling her out as I just KNEW it was the best place and they were loving with her and she was ready, just needing to adjust to the longer day, every day.

It sounds like even though others have raved about it, it isn't the right place for you or your son. I know that different states have different cutoffs, and that M often starts at 2 1/2, but where I live, he wouldn't even start his first year of preschool until September '06. Does he go five days a week? Three hours a day five days a week may be too much for him at only three years old.

I wouldn't let the deposit stop you from pulling him if it is what you think is best. I also wouldn't want his first school experience to be negative. I know M has the coolest toys of all the preschools and I like how they do things for themselves (like pour water from pitchers) that we often do for them, but when I looked at all my choices for preschool, M wasn't a good fit for my kids. My only goals for preschool are 1) that the child learns to LOVE school (I want them to wake up and ask if they "get" to go to school, not do they "have" to go to school), 2) get comfortable with the school format/environment as practice for elementary, and 3) make friends. Anything else I can do at home.

You said "it doesn't set right in my heart". You really don't need to go any further than that. That is the bottom line.

I also think that even though he has stopped crying when you leave him, it may get worse as your pregnancy progresses and/or baby is born. At this point in the school year, I'd just pull him out (well, give him the option) and start right away researching all your options for next year. I would find something fun (mom and me swim lessons or gymnastics?) that the two of you can do together so the focus isn't on pulling him from the preschool but more on something new and positive.

Good luck getting it worked out. I think if you follow your gut (like all the other posters are saying), you really can't go wrong. It was really interesting for me to learn that preschools that my friends LOVED didn't work for me/my kids and maybe ones I loved weren't best for all kids. It is really individual to each child.
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#16 of 26 Old 03-21-2006, 03:38 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Okay, I've realized that I'm having a hard time deciding because I know dp isn't going to agree w/ me. We talked last night and well, I was right. He fully thinks pulling him out will reinforce that complaining will get you what you want. And he thinks that we've made the commitment so now we have to stick w/ it and that lots of kids don't like school. I totally don't agree w/ this. Arg, this is so frustrating. So I guess, the battle begins...*sigh* I guess I've just got to think about the best way to go about all of this. Thanks mama's.
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#17 of 26 Old 03-21-2006, 06:23 PM
 
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: I think it's bizarre to have to ask permission to use the bathroom and even worse to be denied a bodily function like that.
It's a joke in my family - we've always told our son that the mark of a decent school is that you can use the bathroom without anyone's permission. It isn't supposed to be a friggin' prison. (You may be expected to *tell* the teacher where you are going; and you might be asked to try to restrain yourself at certain times, possibly, like during a performance or somebody's reading their poetry, lOl - but you shouldn't have to *ask* anyone and you shouldn't have to go through bureaucratic nonsense like signing in or out or carrying a "pass" or some other "marker" that tells everyone in the hall that you have "permission" to go relieve yourself!

We told our kid early on he wouldn't go to a school where he had to ask anyone's permission to use the bathroom.
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#18 of 26 Old 03-21-2006, 10:15 PM
 
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"He fully thinks pulling him out will reinforce that complaining will get you what you want."

Aack!! Try suggesting that pulling him out will reinforce the trust he has in his parents to honor and respect his feelings. Now is not the time to "teach him a lesson". He's only 3 and a five mornings/week program is a LOT of preschool for his age...

Your dp's parenting philosophy reminded me of a part of Alfie Kohn's book, Unconditional Parenting, where he explains the "wrongness" in assuming the worst in children. Your dp interpretation is that pulling him out of preschool will reinforce the "if you complain you get what you want" lesson. Kohn states that doing so "reflects an awfully sour view of children- and, by extension, of human nature. It assumes that, given half a chance, kids will take advantage of us. Give 'em an inch, they'll take a mile."

Instead, suggest to dp that the goal of your son's behavior is not to manipulate him and the situation. He's trying to tell you the only way he knows how that something is wrong. "This approach offers a vote of confidence in children, a challenge to the assumption that they'll derive the wrong lesson."

I don't even know where to begin with the whole "lots of kids hate school" mentality!! Oy!

Anyway, I'm sorry you're struggling with this. I hope things work out for everyone!!
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#19 of 26 Old 03-21-2006, 10:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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NHmomOF2, Wow, thanks so much for those few quotes! I really couldn't think of a good way to put it but I think that will really help. Seems like the older ds gets the easier it is for dp (and me even!) to revert back to "the old thought process" that we were both raised w/.
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#20 of 26 Old 03-21-2006, 11:02 PM
 
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yeah I agree with Jessica, it's not teaching him that complaining will get what you want. Not when it's something to do with education. He's still really young, school and learning should be enjoyable. Best of luck with this, maybe it will get better for him and he can stay and finish the school year but you know in your heart what's best for him.

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#21 of 26 Old 03-27-2006, 04:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just want to give you all an update! I talked to dp again and really tried to find my voice. I quoted Alfie Kohn (Thank you NHmomOF2!) and he now agrees w/ me!! So this is ds's last week of school! We still have the meeting with the teacher this week but I'm decided and it feel so good. So thank you all soo much for helping me with this!!!
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#22 of 26 Old 03-27-2006, 04:50 PM
 
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yay! Glad you came to a decison and are feeling better about it! I think the meeting is still important just so those issues can be addressed with the teacher.

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#23 of 26 Old 03-27-2006, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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yay! Glad you came to a decison and are feeling better about it! I think the meeting is still important just so those issues can be addressed with the teacher.
ITA
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#24 of 26 Old 03-27-2006, 05:01 PM
 
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so are you finding another school or homeschooling? Just curous

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#25 of 26 Old 03-27-2006, 05:27 PM
 
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Sarita-
Yay, a happy ending... Glad I (and Alfie) could help! Now that you've made the decision and still feel good about it you know it was the right thing for your family.
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#26 of 26 Old 03-29-2006, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drummer's Wife
so are you finding another school or homeschooling? Just curous
I'm somewhat undecided about this. I am on the wait list for a 'family home day care' that incorporates different aspects of many schooling styles. I absolutely loved it when I visited and it's not a requirement to go 5 days a week (when I first put my ds in school I really thought the 5 day theory was a good idea and maybe it is for some kids, just not mine) It's also a 2 block walk away from my house! But it may be awhile before he gets in so in the mean time I think I am going to do some sort of homeschooling or at least have a little more stucture to our day. The spanish teacher at his school is part of a playgroup I belong to and teaches once a week to them as well so I'm glad he will still get that because he's picking it up so quickly and I think he really enjoys it. Ultimately, I don't know if I'll homeschool. Mostly because I'm a slacker and don't know that I would do him that good by doing it. But who knows, seems like my ideas about things are ever evolving.
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