• Attendance

    May 2012
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  • The “Class”

    Avery, Naim, Aaron

  • Subjects

  • Portfolio

The Goddard School

Avery’s School. I will try to get some photos INSIDE of the classroom soon.

Avery’s classroom is the second door from the corner on the left-hand side of the building. If you look at how close the doors are to each other, you can tell a bit about the size of the classrooms. The depth of the classrooms is the length of the first three windows you see on the right-hand wall. Avery’s playground is directly outside of his door. They keep the prison–I mean age populations separate through a series of fences.

So after years of saying I would never go there because they overcharge and all it is is a big sales pitch about “preparing for the future,” I walked my Avery over for his first day at Goddard. I spent the day with him there, and as I suspected, it is just a plain ol’ daycare. Nothing special here at all. It will serve its purpose for right now. My goals are the following:

  1. To get a break from Avery since he and I are with each other 24/7…in which
  2. He will be forced to communicate with other adults and children who will not know what he needs by intuition so much as I do, thus giving him more opportunities to be frustrated and motivated to communicate
  3. To give him a stimulating and yet routine oriented place to spend his time a few hours a week that is entirely on his level as he is so much shuffled around as a third wheel to the big kids stuff.
  4. To be a stopgap between us getting kicked out of Head Start and possibly qualifying for ECSPED when he turns three.
  5. To give big kids a set time of day without toddler interruptions to do their schoolwork, Bonus that it is in the morning and so we will get it done when brains are fresh and then have the afternoon for more fun stuff.

So, 1,4,and 5 are happening. The jury is still out on 2 and 3. He did well there and it went fine. I am writing this after he has been there twice, even though it will be dated the fourth. The second day, when I just dropped him off, he did not seem to have any problems and I was told he did well. Here is my observations about Goddard so far:

  • I like the teacher. She is down to earth and I can tell she likes the kids, although I can also tell she is just getting through the day with her 10 2 year olds. The assistant is nice as well.
  • I do not worry about his safety there. It is incredibly organized and they have a lot of safety measures and procedures. I have no worries that he will be dead or injured when I go to pick him up.
  • It is a program that is at his level, however it is not as creative or stimulating as Head Start.
  • The room is nice and clean, but it is incredibly small. It is about the size of my living/dining area plus a small bathroom. There is also a small outdoors area. It is fine for him for a few hours, but the idea that most of those kids spend up to 12 hours a day in that room (or ones just like it for up to 5 or 6 years is absolutely horrifying. The toys are obviously on the well-used and not often rotated side. (Although kids are assembly lined through each classroom every year or less, so I assume there are different toys and books in each.)
  • They hand you a list of things your kid did all day that was for the most part, obviously pre-written before the day. On the day I was there, they did absolutely NONE of the things that was written in the daily report. It wasn’t that what they DID do was so bad, but it was mostly free play and some circle time. Centers were a joke and NOTHING on the paper was even offered. It could have been a bad/unusual day, but who would even know? I’ll wait a month or six weeks and spend another day with him and see.
  • A kid who was new that week cried off and on the whole time. I could tell that there was not much that they could do, he was just getting used to the 12 hour schedule in that room. But mostly, he was just left to cry. I bet his parents have no idea that he has spent the week crying. He will eventually stop because no one responds, and probably because he will get more used to it, but how sad to be ignored like that for so long. I’m not even blaming the teachers, because still with a ratio of 5:1, you just can’t coddle a kid all day for a week.
  • Most of what the teachers do is manage the toddler cattle. The bathroom routine is ridiculous. They changed Avery’s diapers 4 TIMES!!! In that amount of time, I would have only changed him once. In general, I change him once every 4-6 hours, unless he poops, which I change right away. I don’t know if this is some crazy regulation, but the amount of my diapers they are using up is such a WASTE! I’m going to talk to them about that tomorrow and see if we can get it down. The transition times are at public school levels but worse because they are so young. There is a lot of pain and suffering around transitions and delay.
  • I don’t mean to sound like it is awful there. It isn’t and he will be fine and probably will like it there a lot. Unlike Naim, he likes a lot going on around him. Naim would have gone mad at that age, though. It is just a big difference between whether I would put him there for a few hours a week or full-time.

So, lets talk about full-time. I don’t want to say anything that would make a parent who puts their kid in that type of child care feel guilty, that is not my intent. But I would NEVER, EVER put my kid in a that kind of child care full-time. I would consider a relative or a in-home child care situation, because that mimics home. It allows for strong relationships to develop and it gives the child much more freedom of movement and activity. And usually the ratios are lower as well. That type of place is simply benevolent warehousing. It is toddler prison. I feel really awful for families that don’t have a choice. There is really something wrong with this whole thing where so many children are being forced to spend the majority of early childhood in that environment. I DO NOT say this to make working parents (especially moms) feel like they are bad or wrong and should stay and home and bake cookies. I only say it because there has just GOT to be a better way for parents to work and earn enough money to live and still spend time with their children without warehousing them. Especially with the costs of those places and the rules, etc. It just can’t be worth it. Here is that study that came out recently that talks about this. To me this is a no brainer. What doesn’t work in public schools is even worse on the very young child. No one says anything because no one wants to make parents feel guilty or be on that Christian Right train wreck that says that mothers should stay home. I am NOT saying that. I’m just saying that we should be able to talk about this in neutral terms and look for solutions that do not disproportionately punish mothers for working or for staying home.

I came into parenting rather naively, thinking that I would work and put my kids in childcare. That may have been a possibility had I not had twins. Thankfully, I did and that put childcare in the “impossible” category. When I think back and the sheer wealth and multitude of experiences that Aaron and Naim and I had together the first 5 years of their life and contrast it with a life they may have had had I gone back to work and put them in Goddard, I shudder. The difference in quality of life is drastic. If I would have had a “Jo” (my childhood in-home babysitter that became like a relative to me) I may have gone for that if I could have afforded it and that may have worked out well. (My mom sure was lucky!) But thankfully, I was forced to stay home with my kids. And the sheer boredom of it and the just “OK, if I’m going to be a SAHM, what is the best way to do this right?” type of thinking that woke me up to a whole world of possibilities for them that would never have happened had they been warehoused at Goddard. Really, for all of us as a family. We’ve just bonded so much and have done SO MUCH STUFF together, all over the city, and even North America.

I will keep an eye on Avery over the summer. I think the 12 hours a week he spends there will be an ok balance between being institutionalized and having some stimulating play-time away from mom and big brother activities. If it seems to be detrimental, I’ll pull him out. In December, I will check out ECSPED and compare programs. Until then, we’ll see how it goes and how he evolves about it. I still have him Tuesday and Thursday mornings when kids are at Village where we have just me and him time. And then all the other hours of the week as a family.

*In searching for a link to recent articles on daycare studies I read, I found this book, whose title made ma chuckle. Doing Time: What Really Happens in Daycare.

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