Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Update on Ellie

I know this will be someone's mind, so I thought I'd share a little update on Ellie now that school is underway again. I am happy to report so far, so good. She is happy and plowing on with words, though still at a reserved pace for her capabilities. At least she is not asking to stay home, which is where we were before the break and on the first day back.

There was a seriously rocky start. One of my big enticements to lure her back into school excitement was to give her a new lunchbox (fantastic stainless steel by PlanetBox), and she loved the pink bag and rainbow magnets. She could hardly wait to show everyone! Then, on the very first day, her teacher told her that the magnets were not appropriate for school. The Montessori environment prefers realism to fantasy, and there is a winged unicorn on the largest magnet. I scoured the school handbook and did not find any way this was against policy, but the damage had been done. Although Ellie put on a brave face and nodded her assent at the time, she was in tears by the time we reached the car. She was heartbroken that even a small part of her new pride and joy was not allowed. Rules and order are so important to Ellie, so her perceiving that she had somehow violated them even without meaning to...she was devastated. She cried about it multiple times through the evening and again at bedtime. I WAS FURIOUS!!! I had a meeting with her teacher. To her credit, she had no idea how upset Ellie was (again, that brave face). At home, Ellie and I made new magnets for her lunchbox. I bought magnetic printer paper and I scanned one of Ellie's paintings onto it. We cut that up, and that has been fine. I only wish we had done that from the start, because she is very aware that it is an allowed substitution rather than a source of pride.

Anyway, other than that, things are okay for her at school. At home, she has become quite the toilet reader, taking those darned fairy books to the potty with her every time. She is so into them that now Stephanie carries them around too (always wanting to be like the big sister!). Thank goodness for the library. I am not willing to fork out money for this series, but at the same time, I am thankful Ellie has found a series of chapter books that she looks forward to with great anticipation. We go to the library every week, and she is always so thrilled to find new books on the shelf!


Mimi said...

Oh what a tender little soul she is. She is blessed that you recognize and nurture what others cannot. I cannot bear to think of her crying like that. I mean really Montessori people, get a life, it is a MAGNET and children are SUPPOSED to have imaginations. Marie M., you may have had a lot of insight, but I think you were wearing blinders on this issue.

the dipe squad said...

She is indeed a tender little soul. I wish I could wrap her up in bubble wrap and protect her, but I know it will help her far more if I teach her how to deflect life's barbs in the first place. She's only five, and we have a LONG way to go!

I was furious about this, as I can see you are. I felt the exact same way. It is a magnet with an image that is only a few inches in size. The lunchbox and magnets are inside a plain, pink insulated bag, so it was hardly offensive or disruptive. Lots of kids have TV cartoon characters on their stuff, so the unicorn issue really ticked me off (not least because Ellie chose those for the rainbows and hadn't even noticed the "horse").


I have to clarify that it isn't Maria Montessori's doing. She lived in a time when fictional characters were not mass marketed as they are today, so she couldn't have foreseen this scale of the issue. The problem lies with the principal and the school's board, though the biggest issue lies with inconsistency. As I said, many kids have backpacks featuring Thomas the Tank Engine or Dora or something, and those take up the whole backpack. I myself can see the problem with those, as it does encourage competitiveness and distract from the otherwise reality-based environment. However, seeing that so often, it never occurred to me that Ellie's little unicorn magnet would be a problem in any way. I just wish the teacher had told ME, not Ellie, and certainly not on her very first day back. Thus the meeting. Problem corrected, this time anyway. This will be a short term, and then there is a long summer holiday before resuming in February. Plenty of time to bubble wrap the kiddo!

Lavender Hearts said...

Jennifer, you are spot on with the fact that the teacher should have spoken to you and not directly to Ellie on this point and I'm furious on your behalf. As an adult I still share Ellie's sensitivity to "rules" and their (perceived) infringement and, sadly, Sophie seems to have inherited the same sensibility. To have quashed Ellie's joy and pride in such a manner is just too cruel.

Get that bubble wrap ready!