Thursday, March 29, 2012

Third World Green Daddy 31: Getting to know the preschool

Last weekend Sam's preschool had another parent workshop. My mother thinks they have an awful lot of workshops; she doesn't remember anything like that from my preschool years. I don't know if times are different, or if this particular school is rare in holding such events.

At any rate, this workshop was much more interesting than the first. Instead of hearing discourses from the director and then talking in our groups, we got a sampling of the different activities our kids go through every week. First there was a puppet show, then a theater class, then a workshop of corporal expression or something, then circus stunts where the kids go on swings and trapezes and stuff (with aid from the designated circus professor). The indigenous teacher talked about music as a universal language (and it continued to annoy me that he speaks of the Andes as if they stopped in southern Colombia, and only the Quechua-speakers are truly Andean). Finally there was a guy doing singalongs with a guitar.

I was really impressed with everything, though I preferred to watch from the sidelines as opposed to directly participating in all the touchy-feely stuff. Caro and Sam didn't catch the puppet show, because the workshop started early and Caro didn't want to go. But once I saw how fun everything was, I told them they should come by, and they did. Sam was initially nervous and tearful (he hadn't been to school for a week because they were worried he had pinkeye), but he gradually loosened up. That said, for most of the activities he didn't seem too involved. He maintained his typical, stern face, and usually fixated on something totally unrelated to the programmed activity, like a nearby woman's earring or a window in the wall high above us. I understood this--when I was a kid I also marched to my own drummer, and though I took in everything, I didn't necessarily ascribe the same importance as everyone else to what was supposedly the main event in a given setting. I did wonder though if Sam was enjoying these activities, both that day and in his normal school routine. Was he totally indifferent? Would he prefer to be in a corner by himself seeing how wheels work? I asked his teacher if Sam actually participated and interacted during these group activities, and she said that he was an enthusiastic participant, especially when the circus people wrapped him in a bundle and swung him around. This made me happy--I understand if Sam's natural tendency is to draw inward and think about things and play on his own, but it's important to expose him to group settings, other activities, social coexistence and interaction, etc. I think the school does a good job of that.

Anyway, all in all I was very happy to get to know what my boy does when he's at school, what he's learning and playing at. It was also nice to see that, beside all the artsy stimulation and post-modern sensibilities of the school, by the last few sessions of the morning the kids had left their parents and were playing in the patio, mainly zooming big wheel trikes and crashing into each other. That's an important thing for preschoolers, too.

Sam is now back to school fulltime after his weeklong hiatus, and he's adjusting better than ever. I think the time away made him appreciate it more, and the Saturday workshop was a good reintroduction. My son's teachers say he participates, he plays, he kisses his classmates, he eats well, and he doesn't even cry that much now when we drop him off. Back at home he's got more energy (though he sleeps through the night), and he is hardly drinking bottles anymore. It's amazing to see the changes wrought by a month at preschool.

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