Thursday, August 28, 2008

Should we change our wait pool?

Another dilemma from an SF K Files visitor:

Having a tough time at our assigned school (not one of our choices). My child is getting picked on repeatedly and he is visibly saddened every day. Note, he starts out super eager...but the problem seems to be a tight group of kids who went to preschool together and have siblings at the school already.

We are not in the top tier of the waitpool and there are quite a few ahead of us for our top pick.

My husband and I are totally stressed out as we feel we are not doing everything we can do for our child - who is now seeming more and more insecure every day.

My question, should I change waitpool choice at this point or wait for a miracle for us to be chosen? Soooo torn and sooo unhappy.


  1. Have you talked to the teacher, administration, PTA about this issue? I would start there. Are the kinder kids kept seperate at recess from the older kids? If you change your waitpool, I would certainly look for a school that kept k-1 seperate from the rest of the kids. So sorry you are going through this.

  2. The 1st graders have recess with the kinder class. No play structure...and we all know how hard it is for a 5 year old to participate in "group games" at this age.

    yes, I have talked with the teacher, who I love, but she continues to tell me to give it all a month...

    A month to me is a lifetime...and I seriously only did this school to "buy time." Truly believed we were going to get our top school...

  3. Depending on what neighborhood you live in, and how far you are willing to drive, I would consider changing the waitpool.

    Being stressed out doesn't help your kid, who is struggling already with a big social issue.

    The teacher should be able to help facilitate a solution, and push him towards a friendship outside of the clique, but i don't know the details. The "give it a month" may mean that it isn't as bad as your kid is making it out to be, and the teacher is watching--and it could mean that your teacher doesn't want to deal.

    There are spots opening at schools that may be easier to get into. Where are you?

    Good luck. I feel for you (and him.)

  4. i'm so sorry about your situation. i would think that if this school is not a good fit you might need to lower your bar and waitlist at a school that is less popular. it seems that this year will be different than other years when it comes to the strategy of waiting-it-out for your top choice.

    on the other hand, i have decided to give it two weeks before i visit/volunteer in my son's classroom. the school has a open-door policy which i like, but i know it's important for my child to first bond with the teacher and develop some independence before i show up. like most parents, i have concerns about the recesses and lunchtimes when he is not with his teacher and small group of classmates. if there are issues that i see i will take it to the principal and pta for problem solving. i may also extend some play-date invitations to help facilitate the development of friendships.

    how responsive is the school community (apart from the teacher)? who are the adults supervising the yard? can you put in some time and energy at the school or or is it a situation where you think there is absolutely no hope? honestly, i think if you feel that the community at your school is not responsive to your child's needs then you really should waitlist at a school where an opening for your child will happen sooner. but remember, so far it's been only three days and kindergarden is a real transition.

    i wish you the best and happiest of outcomes.

  5. I would probably change your waitpool school, but I'm a risk-averse person. And I wouldn't stress too much about difficult social adjustment for the first few days. My son is having a hard time adjusting as well, and he already knows some kids from summer playdates that he really likes. It's a big change for them. I do remember my son going into a similar situation where he did a summer camp that was also a preschool, so almost all the kids knew each other. The first week he was very upset about being "excluded" but I just encouraged him to keep trying. By the middle of the second week, he had broken into the group that he really liked (the group of boys that liked to play superheroes). So long as you don't feel like there is a huge underlying problem with the way the schoool handles these issues, I would think that most things will work themselves out so I can understand the teacher saying to give it some time.

  6. What is your waitpool school?

    You might want to go down to the EPC and do a bit more research today. They should be able to tell you about changes in the waitpool numbers (and there have been a lot). My guess is that there are definitely some schools (even some popular ones) that will blow through the 1st cohort and move on to the 2nd. I can name a few schools like that right now!

    Who knows if it will help, but you might let the EPC counselor know your story as well!

  7. Changing to a different school won't necessarily solve the problem. You really don't know what the situation would be like there, either. I think it's much more important to see how the current school is willing to help you improve the situation than it is to try to solve it my moving somewhere else.

    A more appropriate place to discuss your concerns than the PTA would be the School Site Council. They may not have a meeting scheduled yet, but I suggest that you find out who the chair is (the teacher should be able to give you that information) and make a phone call. The chair can help you find resources at the school beyond the teacher (student advisor, counselors, principal, etc.) who can help your child through this rough patch.

    I know how hard the kindergarten adjustment can be--my kids are in 6th and 10th grade this year, but kindergarten still seems like yesterday, and I miss it! Every day seems to hold so much that's new. It's may be joyful and it may be hard, but in both cases it will help your child grow and learn.

  8. the community is truly lacking in involvement. a few stand out and try to get it going - but just is not there.

    I would love to pull him out - but don't think that would be wise until we know what will happen w/waitpool. I have a sick feeling every morning I say "goodbye, love you etc." not good...

    per the EPC counselor, I'm basically screwed until the the top waitpool people are called next week. remember we're in the lower feel hands are tied. yes, we can try another school whose numbers are better....but there are no guarantees this year.

  9. I'm a little surprised that the teacher or principal isn't stepping in to teach the kids not to pick on or exclude others. I know this first week is full of a lot of adjustments and things may improve after a few weeks. But I know at my child's school there is a conscious effort to teach values of respect and caring for others and this definitely extends to the playground and lunchroom. If no such thing currently exists at your school, I'd speak up to the principal to put something in place. It can be done and it can be effective if there is a real commitment.

  10. The first month my son was in kindergarten, I spent a Friday morning volunteering in his class (the teacher welcomed parent volunteers).

    As I was leaving the school, my son told me at lunchtime, in tears: "Why won't anybody play with me?" Of course, I was almost in tears, too.

    Fast-forward five years. He was elected president of the school.

    I would give your son a little time to resolve his own problems. Yes, even at that tender age, let him test his mettle.

    But if the problem remains unresolved, I would definitely step in after a month or so.

  11. I know it's posted on here somewhere - but what is the last day to change waitpool choice????

  12. August 29--tomorrow--for the next run.

  13. is that final final day for changing waitpools?
    I've been trying to get a live person at the EPC - but of course having no luck today...

  14. Per EPC,
    Oct. 3 is final final

    aug 29 is for next week's run

  15. This may seem cold while your child is struggling, but unless he has a history of difficulty fitting in, I would echo the advice to ride it out. It's only been two days. Don't switch schools unless you are convinced it will be a positive academic change or or a logistic improvement with comparable academics. Our son definitely took a while to adjust to kindergarten. He had been "king of the hill" at preschool. As the youngest and smallest boy in kindergarten, that role was not available to him. He had sporadic bouts of feeling excluded all last year. The bigger boys in his class had a mercurial clique and he was in one day and out the next. But he has a fundamentally cheerful disposition, he made friends among the kids in the higher grades and had teachers who doted on him, so he was happy overall. This fall he's thrilled to be back with his class. Kids find their place, but some take longer than others.

    That said, you know your child and his history best. If he needs more support making the transition than the school he's in can provide, and if you find a school with space that can provide the support he needs, you should probably switch as soon as you can. If he's too unhappy you run the risk of souring him on school in general and that will hamper his learning. Best of luck.

  16. I'm confused. You are at your assigned school - not one of your choices, but aren't in the top tier on the waitlist? Did you list less than 7 on the first round?

  17. I don't think it matters. Last year, about ten or so spots opened up at the two popular schools Rooftop and Clarendon, yet at another great school, Yick Wo, there were two spots on the wait list and neither got in.

    I changed my wait pool from Clarendon to Yick Wo, and I have sat by and heard about several kids getting Clarendon. No movement yet on the Yick Wo waitpool.

    So just because you change to a school with quite a bit fewer spots, is no guarantee.

    Does Rosa Parks still have spots? Or Daniel Webster? I'd send my kid there. And I also hear that Flynn has GE spots. Who wouldn't want to go to those schools? They're fine.

    If you hate your school, change it. I don't think these things get better.

  18. Children in SF schools do not get picked on. Your child obviously needs to embrace diversity.

  19. 12:09, I think I'm in love.

  20. There are definitely a few spots open at Daniel Webster Spanish Immersion. This is a brand new program, with some to-be-expected growing pains, but things are actually going great. The support around this school, both from within and without are amazing! Please come by and ask the principal, Ms. Machado for a tour, if you are interested. Also, there will be a meeting for the Spanish Immersion families next Thursday 9/4 at the school. Please call the school for more details if you are interested in DW.

  21. 12:09 said: "Children in SF schools do not get picked on. Your child obviously needs to embrace diversity."

    Ha ha, but what does diversity have to do with the poster's story? It sounds like her kid is coming up against a clique of kids who went to preschool together. I'd say odds aren't bad they are mostly middle-class white kids as they had access to preschool, but in any case "diversity" wasn't named as a factor here. Cliquishness can happen across all schools, including (if not especially) in private ones.

    I would also bet that this particular clique will dissolve and reform in different ways once the stress of the new situation wears off. These kids are playing together because they know each other and not the other kids. Within a month, the playground dynamic will look different.

  22. I think Rosa Parks JBBP is full. But I do not think there is a waitpool in any cohort --it is such an amazing school with fantastic kindergarten teachers! The kids all seem to be playing with each other. My child is excited to be going to school every day and comes home in the afternoon excited about what he's done and learned.

    I would be very surprised if spots did not open up in the 10 day count, as many families are on waitpools for closer schools --though many of us have fallen in love with the school and will surely stay, there will be some who go.

  23. These kids don't sound like joyful learners. The diversity police may come and take them away.

  24. Is it possible that your response is a little heightened because this isn't really a school you wanted? I don't know what is going on in terms of your child being picked on - and don't mean to dimish what is happening to him - but I also know that sometimes our emotions get in the way of clearly assessing something related to our children. Like perhaps YOU noticed the clique yourself and then when Johnny mentioned that he ate alone or didn't get to play blocks you extrapolated it some?

    Just cautioning to be aware of your own anxiety here (or your own feelings about being left out of a Mom clique), and remember that the first week is ALWAYS hard. I know for my son it took him a week or so (last year) and then he and a boy locked in together and they have been best friends ever since.

    Now if this is really not the school you want, that's another issue. It will be even harder if the kid loves it, the kids and the teacher and you decide to move him.