|Note the plethora of books in the butterfly net. He's ready.|
"Do I get to go back to school today?"
When EZ was around two and a half, we started making the rounds to various preschools in the area. We were less worried about getting him on the baby-genius track, and more concerned with giving him a few mornings a week to interact with his peers while mama got a few hours to regain her sanity. If he happened to learn anything while there, even better.
We're lucky to live in an area saturated with schools - private, public, charter - you name it, we've got it. Almost every educational philosophy is represented, and the choices really are limitless (as long as your bank account is limitless as well...).
I started off by checking out one preschool in particular, intrigued by what they seemed to offer. EZ is a January baby, making him just short of that supposedly magic 2.9-by-September cutoff that many preschools adhere to. Perhaps it was my mistake to look at schools who abide by that rule, but there we were, meeting with the director of the program anyway.
She watched as EZ played with some toys that were left out as she described the program to me. Then, she pulled me aside and said that while she'd love to have EZ attend, they are pretty strict with their age minimum.
Had the conversation ended there, I probably wouldn't have thought twice and possibly would have even sent him there the following year.
"And it's good anyway. That way, he'll be even older when he starts next year, making him on track with the other kids in the class, especially the girls."
Of course, I asked her to clarify.
She talked about how boys are naturally slower learners, how if he started this year he'd be behind and frustrated and wouldn't enjoy himself.
If I knew how to arch my eyebrow in that awesomely pointed way, I totally would have. Instead, I thanked her for her time, scooped up EZ, and left.
While I'm sure this director must have met students who fell into that description, she hadn't met EZ yet. Not really. She didn't know what he could or couldn't do, but because he's a boy, she already had a preconceived notion of what he was capable of.
And that totally sucked.
Now granted, I know that all of our kids are special snowflakes and when they do something it's the bestest thing ever and better than any other little kid doing the same exact thing. No, seriously, when EZ pooped in the potty for the 1st time, I almost held a parade
But, for me, this is beyond being fiercely protective of my son because he's mine, and more about this general idea that boy are intellectually slower than girls that has seeped into our society (and by extension - school systems).
I'm not suggesting that there aren't biological differences between boys and girls. I know there are. Books have been written about these difference suggesting they begin as early as the womb, and studies are always looking at the differences between male and female brains. However, regardless of the biological differences between the sexes, acting upon these theories in a way that could potentially affect them negatively in an educational setting makes me bristle.
I want a teacher to look at my child and see his potential, and not rely on the generality that boys are slower learners - that already puts him at a disadvantage. It could be as subtle as not starting to work on reading or math sooner, or over compensating with over the top attention when he manages to do something correctly.
In the end, we chose a school that happened to be a perfect fit. EZ's teachers look at him as an eager kid, full of questions and potential. They don't teach towards his gender, and in fact, in the two years that he's been there, not one teacher has made a comment about the supposed slow pace at which boys learn, or how he learns "as a boy." We've had discussions about his struggles with fine motor skills and his accomplishments in reading. Neither time were those skills, or lack thereof, connected to the fact that EZ is a boy. They were simply presented as "this is how your child is doing."
This Friday, EZ finally goes back to school. He's beyond happy, and I'm thrilled knowing he'll be walking into a classroom that views him as an individual, rather than a sum of his parts.
|EZ at his birthday celebration (blowing out the "sun") at school last year|