My son is starting Kindergarten in September. Earlier this month we attended a “Welcome to Kindergarten” event at our local school. All the children who will potentially be in class with my little boy were in attendance (there will be two kindergarten classes). As all the children excitedly took their places, the parents looked on from the back of the room. This wasn’t my first time doing this, as my daughter will be in grade three next year. However, there was something different for me this time around. I noticed that, in my mind, I was trying to assess the size and composition of the incoming kindergarten class…and I felt ashamed of myself for doing it.
After all we hear about the state of public education in B.C., there is one thing that I think is not being addressed: how impressions around class size and, in particular, composition affects how parents and children feel about their school and classmates. As I observed the orientation, I could find myself trying to count how many children might possibly be ESL or developmentally challenged. What could the composition of my child’s class potentially look like?
What an awful way to look around a room of excited, innocent children. Our struggling public education system has done this to us. Just as lack of funding and support is not fair to the children who need extra/added assistance in the classroom, it is also unfair to “typical” learners who are not getting the one-on-one attention that every child needs, craves, and thrives with. I am ashamed to admit that I was essentially “profiling” a group of five and six year olds. After everything I have heard in the media, from teachers and from other parents, I have become so frustrated and even paranoid about how much my children’s educational experience will be affected by the lack of adequate funding for our system.
I wish it wasn’t like this. I wish I could attend my son’s kindergarten orientation and see a wonderfully diverse group of students and know that each of them would be given the very best start possible. I wish each child who speaks English as a second language would have resources available to help them learn the primary language spoken in their country. I wish every developmentally challenged child who has the capacity to learn within an integrated system had the proper supports to allow them to do this. I wish gifted children were able to be challenged in the classroom by their teachers…not once in a while…but every, single day. Finally, I wish “typical” learners could have the attention they, too, need and deserve.
What is in place right now is simply not enough…and it makes it difficult for me to even get excited about my kid starting school. That, in itself, is a real shame.
Have you, too become more acutely aware of your child’s class size and composition in light of the recent events in BC Education? What are your impressions?