Monday, September 10, 2007

Preschool Blues

It was too good to last. Or maybe it was never going to live up to its billing. Either way, we're done with Making Friends Preschool. We'd been considering this move for awhile, since each day of preschool left Elise out of control, not herself, and all of us exhausted. After our trip to Montana, I was pretty well convinced it was time to give our thirty days' notice and find a better situation.

We returned on the first school day of September to find that the new families Clara had promised had indeed arrived. Yay! More kids! More potential friends! Clara had been billing this as a positive thing for about a month, and I was pretty excited. Until I realized that not a one of them spoke English.

This might not have been a big deal, since when we originally joined the school there were kids who had a number of different native languages. However, English was the only common one among them so it seemed like a good way to get Elise exposed to different languages and a diverse environment. As the summer progressed, however, the balance changed. Instead of diverse languages, the students of the school were speaking primarily Hebrew. This meant that as time went on, there were fewer and fewer reasons for other kids to try to include Elise because they could of course converse with one another just fine.

I was frustrated by this shift of balance back in July, but Clara assured me it was temporary and that Elise wouldn't be the odd one out forever as new children would be joining soon.

Imagine my surprise just after Labor Day when I arrived to find several new children all chattering happily in Hebrew. Lest anyone stumbling on this blog by accident think I'm some sort of crazy anti-semite, it wouldn't matter what language all of the other kids were speaking in my estimation. I didn't sign my kid up for a foreign language school experience, and here it was without any notice and apparently some subterfuge to boot. Why didn't this teacher tell me that the situation about which I'd already expressed concern was going to be getting more so? Hmm?!!! I dunno, but it annoyed me to no end.

Suddenly, Elise's withdrawal and unmanageable behavior after school became very clearly explained. Even assuming she was getting adequate attention from the teacher, she was completely isolated from her peers. How miserable. We all experience being the odd one out at some point in life, but we have the power to shield Elise from that in preschool. Good grief. When we left, there were 2 (out of 8 or so) other students in the school who were not native Hebrew speakers. Neither one of them looked really happy, either.

We went from having 30 days' notice to find something more suitable to an immediate withdrawal. This meant that, in spite of what I consider misrepresentation by the owner of the preschool, we were out the cost of school for 1 month. Yikes. We did sign the contract, though, so technically she was entitled. In the end, I felt like she fell short of the person with whom we'd originally contracted.

I picked Elise up early on her final day as a treat to soften the blow somewhat. Clara said some horribly mean things to me, most aimed at criticizing my judgment as a mother and of course the very nature of my child. I'm willing to cut Clara some slack on that since she's going through hard times right now. But not enough slack to trust her with our girl again. No way. Good riddance.

So, the search begins again for a reasonable preschool experience for Elise. I've got some leads. We'll keep you posted.

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Heather, that stinks. Good for you, to have the courage to pull Elise out of the situation. Being the odd one out by choice is hard enough- being a little kid who doesn't speak Hebrew and therefore can't talk with the other kids isn't fair.