Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Venting

Be forewarned...this is not a food post. This is a raising children post. And its a long one.

My oldest started kindergarten this year and at first I was nearly having a heart attack about it. I mean, its not like I didn't know she was growing up but now that she is going to school every morning at a real elementary school it just feels so sad...like a chapter in her life and mine as her mama was closing. And it was/has. She is growing up so fast and she has really matured this year. So much so I'm not really sad anymore, I'm so proud of the person she is becoming. I always worried she would be lonely at school because she is so shy but she has really taking well to school and has made some real friends.

And the learning! I can't believe how much info one little person can absorb. She's like a walking encyclopedia and a french/english one at that because she is enrolled in french immersion. She loves learning a new language (my husband and I both speak french but his first language is french, its my second language and it shows!) and she loves learning about new things. She even loves doing homework and that is what this vent is about.

When we enrolled her in this immersion program we were told she would get a homework package sent home once a week - every wednesday they get a package and they return it completed every monday. Each package has a book with a photo on one page and the french word on the page next to it (eg. picture of an apple and the word pomme on the page beside it). There are a total of 12 pics/words. The kids are also given a paper with lines and the pictures from the book on it for them to write the french word next to. They also get a set of magnets (12 pics, 12 words) that they have to match up.

A couple of weekends ago my husband was doing her homework with her and noticed that two of the word magnets were missing. I was teaching this particular weekend so I wasn't around while this was going on. They finished up the rest of the homework and packed it away to send back to school the next day. My husband forgot to mention to me that there was 2 magnets missing and when I went to pick her up the next day at school the teacher told me she had missing magnets could I look for them at home. I called my husband who told me they were missing when he opened the package and so we told the teacher this. She told me no way could there have been any pieces missing from the package. Ok....obviously there could be cuz ours was missing some. So they said we had to pay for the missing magnets and they sent me a bill for $15.60. We were a little miffed but decided to pay the bill and look at her package they day it was sent home from now on to make sure we had all the pieces.

So I get the bill on the friday before spring break and I noticed that she didn't get any homework. I assumed it was because of the break. Then we were invited to a friends house for a playdate. This friend is in the same class and she got homework so I assumed that they forgot to give us ours. No big deal I thought, we'll just get it when we get back and do it then. So when I dropped her off for school on Tuesday I asked about the missing homework. I was told that because we owed the $15.60 that she would not be getting any more homework until we paid the bill.

Are. You. Kidding. Me.

Are you telling me that because we own a measly $15.60 for something we didn't lose in the first place our child will not be getting her homework? Surely there has been a misunderstanding I thought because thats the dumbest thing I have ever heard right?!

I called the principle to discuss it. Apparently this is the policy that the kindergarten teachers put in place this year to ensure missing pieces were paid for. I was told its just like library books. If your child doesn't bring the book back on the assigned day they aren't allowed to take more books out. Well certainly, I said, its reasonable for a 5 year old to remember to put their library books in their backpack once a week to return. But children don't write checks. Its not my daugthers responsibility to make sure a cheque is sent for the missing pieces (that we didn't lose), its mine so why is she being punished for something she has no control over. Why, quite frankly, is she being denied part of her education over $15.60? What about people who can't afford to pay the bill till a payday? Don't laugh, my friend just told me she has $8.51 till next friday. Should a child be denied their homework and their education over that?

So rather than drop it, I decided to schedule a chat with her teachers. If this is indeed the policy then they need to execute it better. When I received my bill it should have been noted right on the bill that she wouldn't receive anymore packages till the bill was settled and they should have verbally told me this when they handed me the bill. Further more, because I got the bill the day she was to receive her homework they should have been a grace period..like she gets her homework this time but if the bill isn't settled by the next scheduled homework day she won't receive her next one.

I don't want to be a "problem parent" but I feel like I need to stand up for not just my child but for others too.

What do you think?


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