Posts Tagged ‘daycare’

FedKids Recognition Day

June 17, 2010

A few videos and photos from today’s recognition day for the whole school. CAUTION: The videos haven’t been edited, but none of them are longer than 5 minutes.

Charlie recognition day

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When you pretend to kill someone, please use gentle hands

May 17, 2010

This morning, Charlie wanted me to tell his friend Matt about our bubble gun. It’s a gun; it blows bubbles.

There was a time, not too long ago, when Charlie had no idea what a gun was, or even how to hold one. Yes, we let him watch TV, but it’s always monitored. There is a specific selection of kids shows on PBS or Nick, Jr. on demand, which means no commercials and no violence. He’s also into old movies and YouTube, but again, monitored.

But this year his school friends are older. They know all about killing and guns and squashing bugs. Charlie has come home slashing a pretend sword and making his sticks cut down dandelions. Lately, when he gets angry he sometimes says he wants to cut my head off. (I swear, he’s well-balanced! I can be aggravating at times.)

I was worried about the aggressive talk until I started doing some reading. If kids can’t hit or kick or throw temper tantrums, they need to channel their aggression somewhere–like into words (I am so angry I feel like cutting your head off…you know, for example) or into game play, such as pretending to cut down dandelions or shoot each other with bubble guns.

So tentatively, and mixed with a lot of outdoor running around, we’ve allowed the violent play–as long as it is not rude or physically hurtful. In other words, you can pretend to kill someone, as long as you use gentle hands.

But today, when I told Matt about the gun, he said, “Oh! We’re not supposed to use that word.”

I thought back over what I’d said, thinking maybe he’d heard “sh*t” when I’d said “shoot.” “What word?” I asked.

“Gun.”

I was dumbfounded. “Gun? Really?”

I called the teacher over. “They can’t say gun?”

And she explained how the kids had been pretending to use guns and saying they were killing each other. The aggressive language and pretend play was disturbing to the adults, so they’d called a teacher meeting and decided the kids couldn’t use the word ‘gun’ in class.

My first thought was that making guns into something secretive and subversive would only increase their appeal.

My second thought was that this was the exact opposite of all that I’d read. Granted, I’m not an expert in childhood development and supposedly these teachers are. But I explained how we handle it at home, and told her about what I’d read. I said that pretend play–as long as no one was actually getting hurt–seemed to be the safest way to act out aggression and figure out problem-solving techniques. She said the teachers just wanted to promote peace in the classroom, which is understandable with 18 kids.

So now I’m not sure what to think. What about cowboys and Indians? What about robots vs. aliens? What about all those other boy games that I don’t know much about? Are all of these verboten?

I’m thinking of going to the head teacher with my printed-out articles and requesting some sort of compromise. Maybe pretending with guns and swords can be okay when they are outside on the playground?

But what if I’m wrong? What if it isn’t okay for kids to pretend to kill each other? What if that does lead to real-life aggression?

Am I blowing this out of proportion? (I do live one neighborhood away from Park Slope, after all.) Is it a case of, if you imagine it, you’ll do it? Or, is pretend play really what I think it is: an essential tool for helping boys–and girls, too–learn to express and work through their aggression without actually hurting anyone?

At the Mother’s Day party

May 17, 2010

mother's day party

This is Charlie in the middle of eating our Mother’s Day party lunch. My action shots leave much to be desired.

Charlie’s class had a Mother’s Day luncheon for us moms in early May. They sang us songs, ate lunch with us and made us presents.

Fedkids daycare on local CBS news

October 7, 2009

Charlie’s daycare was on our local CBS station last night in a discussion of daycares “going green.” The video clip is here.

Fedkids is pretty good about being eco-friendly, though I do remember that when we first got there, the parents had to beg and plead for organic milk. And don’t be fooled by the mention of organic snacks. The kids still mostly ask for Cheerios.

The video features the indoor playspace and Charlie’s BFF Maryn with her mom Kristen and brother Newie.

Charlie’s 3rd birthday

October 3, 2009

Absolutely pathetic. It has taken me six months to get these photos uploaded, Flickerized and put on to this blog. Ugh. In any case, click on smiling Charlie to see the March 2009 birthday fun. (And if you compare six-months-ago Charlie to the Charlie in the apple pictures, the difference is amazing. He’s grown at least two inches since then.)

There are more than a hundred photos–fair warning–and four videos. You can tell the videos by the little arrow in the lower left corner.

Charlie in the tent

A zoo field trip

July 24, 2009

At the zoo

at the zoo 2

Today, Sunflowers had their class field trip to the zoo. Jesse had a summer Friday, so he got to go with the monkeys, I mean, kids, to check out the animals. I wanted more pix, but he said the kids were running around crazily and it was hard to follow them and take pictures.

Also, Charlie knows the zoo by heart, so he acted as guide: “Guys, here’s the goat. Let’s see the monkeys! What about the meerkats?”

School schedules

June 30, 2009

Before we left on summer vacation (pictures to come, sometime), Jesse and I finally got the application in for our first-choice school. (Yes, we’re early. The application was for Fall 2010 early decision.) I was excited and relieved that it was done; it was the only private school I really connected to, and I do hope he gets in. It’s philosophy (and price) fit our family. Honestly, I wish I could go there.

However, I recently saw their schedule for next year. In addition to school holidays (a Christmas break, a winter break, a spring break and a summer break), the first week of school starts in mid-September, with a few days that end at 11 am. Every first Friday the kids get out at 11 am for a teacher work day. On the days of parent-teacher conferences, the school is closed. And, of course, the school day ends at 3:15 pm.

For all those breaks and after school, there are some options–camps, classes, paying for a grandma to fly up and play with Charlie, maybe drop-in care at his current school for the first year. But what about all those half days, and weeks when camps aren’t open? What about when he ages out of his current daycare or they don’t have space for drop-in? How do working parents acquire appropriate child care for all of those random times?

I have some vacation, and some flexibility with my part-time schedule, and still the amount of off-time seems daunting. Here’s hoping not all the families in the small school have a stay at home parent; maybe they’ve figured out some tricks to make it all work.

Who knew that daycare, with its 9-6 hours and only-closed-on-major-holidays schedule was so luxurious? I guess I’ve been spoiled and didn’t even know it.

Parent-teacher conference

June 30, 2009

Yesterday we had a meeting with Charlie’s daycare teachers, who are amazing. They have a great chemistry in the room, and manage to keep twelve three-year-olds running on schedule while having fun.

Logically, I know it shouldn’t matter one whit whether Charlie is “good in school.” Not everyone is, and the pressure of school was always really stressful for me. There is more to everyone than academics, or even good relationships with teachers.

BUT…

When his teachers talked about finding him lovable and entertaining, how he is the life of the party and always ready to sing, how he cares deeply about his friends’ feelings and well-being, how his vocabulary is taking off, how he can now pedal a tricycle and is usually consistent with using words instead of screaming or crying (at least at school where they have an organized and predictable schedule)…well, it did make me proud.

And a little bashful for feeling so proud. After all, he’s doing all the growing and learning, I’m just helping him along.

Schooling

February 9, 2009

I remember when we first moved to Brooklyn. I was volunteering at the library toy sale, and the ladies there couldn’t stop talking about neighborhood schools.

Where are you zoned?

When is the application deadline?

Are you thinking about private school?

What about pre-K?

Have you thought about ANY of this, they asked?

Um. Charlie is only one.

They looked at me like I was crazy.

Well, now I know why.

As the deadline for pre-K neared, (Charlie is almost three, and pre-K starts at four) I began to consider our options. Keep him at Fedkids? Look for a public school pre-K? Move him into a private program so we could secure a spot there for elementary school?

Last week, I went to a meeting held by a very informative school consultant, Joyce Szuflita. I learned that for us, public pre-K was better left undone. (No guaranteed seats, only a half-day program because we’d only be eligible–most likely–for our zoned school, which doesn’t do full-day.) Fedkids has a good pre-K program. Done deal.

But for kindergarten…

The process isn’t too complicated, really. Just apply at any school you like, with the hope that you might get in to the one you want.

Our zoned school is safe, and I’ve heard good things about their program. But I’ve also heard the kids watch Hannah Montana instead of doing PE during cold weather because they don’t have a gym, and the principle is opposed to parent involvement in the classroom.

So, we’ll just find another school, I thought.

But a friend, a public school teacher, said, “Oh, all the public schools have the kids watch TV. Monsters, Inc. The Lion King. During lunch, as crowd control.”

This isn’t just a special movie for holidays or parties or to help the kids visualize the stories they’ve been reading. There is no discussion of commercialization, merchandising, or even what went on in the movie. This is every day, TV babysitting. When did school become screen-zombie time? Can’t they play board games at PE, or just freakin’ socialize at lunch?

That was when I realized I was not as laissez-fair about this education thing as I had once thought. (Quote from me, pre-Charlie: “Public school was good enough for me. I turned out fine. Public school it will be.”)

Math and reading are all well and good, but what about the other aspects of learning that make a well-rounded person? Art? Music? Physical education and games? Creativity and critical thinking? Getting outside and exploring the world, both man-made and natural? (Honestly, my fondest memory of elementary school is me picking honeysuckle from the bushes in the forest just down the drainage ditch from our playground. We’d drink the nectar and smell the flowers. To this day, the smell of honeysuckle does something to me.)

Okay, I thought. Maybe we’ll go the private route. We’re already paying out the wazoo for daycare. We’ll just take that money and funnel it into a private school. And boy do they have cool schools in Brooklyn. Campuses with fields and pools. Curricula that include hands-on science, field trips, art, music, drama. Except…

The cheaper end of private is still almost TEN THOUSAND dollars more per year than we’re already paying. And that doesn’t include the price we’ll have to pay for fall, winter and spring week-long camps, after-school programs that last until we get off work, and a summer program or summer nanny for July and August.

So back to public school searches. There are a few that sound really promising. But they are all in Manhattan, in zones filled with multi-million-dollar townhouses and tiny apartments running thousands per month.

At that point my stomach was starting to hurt, and I was glad I had begun to consider this nearly TWO YEARS in advance.

I’ll need that much time to either: 1) Make an appointment with Joyce, talk to all of my teacher friends, tour every public school I like, find an apartment in our preferred school zone that doesn’t bankrupt us and move there before January 2011, or 2) Research, develop and found a working co-op home school with other like-minded parents who think that NYC has too much to offer to keep a kid chained to a desk all day, watching TV.

Besting New York City Education = my new hobby

Exceeding requirements

January 22, 2009

Recently, I learned that our daycare center is even better than I had realized.

The NY State Department of Health says that a center only needs 30 square feet per child (have they never seen a running two-year-old?), down from a previous level of 35 square feet in 2007. Our center has 50 square feet per child, not including enclosed outdoor space.

The DOH says that 5-, 4-, and 3-year-old classrooms can have up to 25 kids and only need 2 teachers. (Are there any parents on the boards making these regulations?) Our center has 12-15 kids in the older classes and 10-12 in the 3-year-old class, with two and sometimes three teachers in each.

And this is just the physical space in our center. We have a good one. I wish all children had one as good as ours.