Monday, April 11, 2011

The Kindergarten Chronicles - Part 2

By mid-winter, it was rare to have a conversation with an adult that did not revolve around the kindergarten application process. There was the gifted and talented exam. The “Meet the Principal Nights.” The open houses at the charter schools. My schedule was booked.

The Renaissance open house was a nightmare. The line to get in wrapped around the block. It was freezing rain. So many of the parents I met on the line did not even seem interested in the concept of a progressive education. I stood wedged between two families, each of whom were hoping for financial aid to a Catholic school, but Renaissance was their second choice. Ummm. Their first choice is the most structured, conservative possibility, and their second choice was the school where the kids call the teachers by their first names and pursue a broad, liberal arts education in an environment of loosely controlled chaos? K-12 is a huge plus.

Fell in love with the principal of Growing up Green. Constant student assessment, and classroom activities based on student interests. An onsite garden. Ecology theme. Lots of field trips. I feel like Liana is really drawn to the natural sciences. A great option for her. K-5.

Our World Neighborhood is more structured. Social studies theme. Each month they focus on a part of the world, and a value. Values include kindness and honesty and citizenship. The walls of the school are covered with student projects. Student writing is evaluated, not graded. A hallway was transformed into our solar system, with black walls spotted with stars, and balls transformed into planets hung from the walls. A parent asked if it was a permanent exhibit. The principal said no. The hallway would be transformed into a rainforest the following month. K-8.

Academy of the City hasn’t opened yet. They don’t even have a building. But also a real progressive education.

Neighborhood public schools were in the process of redistricting, and there was great confusion about where the district lines fall now. I don’t like PS 212, my districted school. It is across the street. So easy. Beautiful building. Crowded classrooms. Traditional instruction. They watch videos for recess. It is a “magnet school” for “literacy and technology.” Whatever that means. I know wonderful parents who love the place. I don’t. Kids districted for PS 69 can also apply to some other schools, including a bilingual program for K-2.

One thing was for sure. The wonderful community of friends who play together at Travers Park, who have attended pre-k together, would not stay together. They would be scattered to the wind.