Thursday, February 18, 2010

When Daycare Becomes A Nightmare

They say that educated parents have the social cache to make sure that their kids don't get caught up in the BS that keeps some children from navigating school successfully. That maybe so, but it doesn't mean you don't have to do your due diligence to avoid said BS. Given the recent deterioration of our respect for Lil Man's daycare, here's five clear signs that it's time to yank your child from a bad situation.

If you're confident in your teaching and how you're handling my child, then it shouldn't be a problem when I go from the relaxed sweats and T-shirt look to the more serious khakis and button-down look and ask to observe class for a while.

4. TEACHER THINKS 3 yr-olds CAN BEHAVE WITH THE DISCIPLINE OF THE MARINE CORPS. Guess what? It might be somewhat difficult for a child to sit "Criss-cross-applesauce" for more than twenty-minutes. It's also not a given that a toddler is going to clean up just because you said it's time for recess. Finally, just because a child might speak like a young Barack or Michelle doesn't negate the fact that they're still just a kid.

3. EVERYTIME YOU GET A COMMUNICATION (E-MAIL, NOTE) FROM SCHOOL. YOUR CHILD IS CHARACTERIZED AS THE NEXT DENNIS THE MENACE. I know my child is not an angel. I remember all too well, what I was like at 7, so I can only imagine that what I'm seeing from Lil Man at 3 is vintage Carroll. Nevertheless I pay big money for my child to be taught, so in addition to hearing about what we need to work on at home, I should be hearing about how Lil Man can spell, identify colors, and count in English and Spanish. I shouldn't get that info from other parents who happen to visit the classroom.

Note to any preschool director or teacher, if you call me at work or at home to tell me that Lil Man ate glue, ran into a tree, or God forbid laid hands on someone, be prepared to give me the whole story. It's one thing to deal with your child when he hits someone for no reason it's a whole different ball of wax when he hits someone because a kid snatched a toy from him and then teased him about it.

1. WHEN ANYBODY ON CAMPUS WHO POSSESSES LESS THAN A Ph.D or ED.D in CHILD PSYCH OR DEVELOPMENT TRIES TO "DIAGNOSE" A 3 yr-old. Plain and simple, unless you've spent years studying cognitive psychology, I don't want to hear your armchair "evaluation" of my child based on one behavior incident when everything else about his demeanor indicates he's on a normal developmental path. What happens the next time? Ritalin prescription? As soon as this happens, just pack up your child's things and say goodbye.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Black History Month = Building Bridges For the Future

When February 1 rolls around every year, I have to chuckle at the clockwork-like precision with which the Black History-themed commercials and PSAs get rolled out by every network to make sure they have satisfied their "duty" to recognize the contributions that Black men and women have made to this country. While imperative to continue recognizing the contributions of all ethnic groups to the fabric of our culture, what is even more important is to promote the continued CONNECTION of youth to their cultural legacies. As I shook my head about the "missionaries" looking to "save" Haitian children by illegally taking them across the border, I couldn't help but think that we don't truly understand the value of this connection to our cultural legacies. Peep this example:

In sixth grade, my third grade teacher who was put in charge of the annual Black History Month assembly, asked me to portray Martin Luther "the" King by reading one his "Mountaintop" speech to the whole lower school. Given that the private school I attended K-8 was predominantly white, I was one of maybe five candidates for this job, and I can easily see where the skeptic says that selecting me to portray MLK could have soured me on my own identity as Black male. The counterargument being that placing the "burden" of portraying one of the most important leaders of our generation on me could have made me feel self-conscious, and isolated from my predominantly white peers. The opposite was in fact the case, as having to study the words of MLK gave me a greater understanding of the Civil Rights Movement, the man himself, and my connection to the continuring struggle for justice and equality. My outlook on being a Black male was enhanced by participating in the assembly and set a foundation to always cast off attempts to pidgeon-hole me into any type of categorical box. When we have that understanding of the richness of our past, it is then possible to branch out and make bridges with others. This is why not only is Black History month important, but also the contributions of all ethnic groups which call America home. Let each of us find ways to connect youth with a greater understanding of those who have toiled before them.