Reason #294 why “playgroup” just ain’t happening

Yesterday was Shabbos Zachor.  So, the Things and I dropped in at the local synagogue to catch a reading.

Normally, I consider two little kids and a shul to be a really bad combination.  Let’s face it, kids tend to act, um, “charming” when we least wish them to be.  Fortunately, the Young Israel (I won’t say which one) has a little drop-in daycare playroom so that parents can keep their youngsters out of the sanctuary.  They even had a special reading of Zachor for all the little kids and those parents who chose to stay in the playroom with them. 

Just as the service was ending, Thing 2 woke up and wanted to eat.   I have basically given up on trying to convince Thing 2 of the merits of the occasional bottle.  So, I have to take her out to nurse her.  I was gone for about five minutes, and came back to face every parent’s worst nightmare.

As I re-enter the playroom, I see no sign of Thing 1.  So, I go to the woman in charge, and ask, “Excuse me, wher’s my kid?”

“Uh…good question!”  This is about the last thing I want to hear!  A part of me wanted to grab this idiot’s shoulders, shake her until her teeth chattered, and scream “YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO BE WATCHING HER!”  But, I didn’t.  First of all, I could tell that she was upset about misplacing my daughter.  For another, I have no desire to be charged with assault.

So, after putting out an APB, I set out to search.  Unfortunately, between the crowd leaving the building, and dragging Thing 2 in her carrier (like HELL I’m putting down the one I have left,) I’m a bit hindered.  Meanwhile, Builder tells me that I should have made sure that someone was watching her.  (Um, that’s kind of the point of the playroom, dear.).  Well, it turns out someone was watching her.  The other playroom supervisor watched my kid…watched her wander out!

Finally, after about 5-10 minutes, Builder comes back with Thing 1, happy as a bird and munching on candy.  She’d wandered to the shul’s basement.  I was so relieved to get her back!  On the way home, I told Builder, “If this is the way they run a railroad around here, I don’t even want to hear the word ‘playgroup’ again for a very long time!”

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Published in: on March 8, 2009 at 4:58 pm  Leave a Comment  

Someone told me it’s all happening at the zoo…

Yesterday, the Things and I trekked out to the Bronx Zoo for our first “official” homeschool event.  It was a class for 2-4 year-old homeschoolers, and of course a chance for them to “socialize.”  All in all, a disappointment.

Firt of all, I don’t drive anymore.  Between dealing with Builder’s Explorer (he’s one of the few people who can justify ownership of an SUV, but I still hate the thing) and dealing with bad New York drivers (see my post on Boro Park WMDs), I am sticking with public transportation, car services and walking.  Fortunately, car services do provide car seats.  (Hey, I learned something new!)  So we took a car service out to the Bronx.  True, there is a stop for the zoo off the 5 train, but who in their right mind is going to shlep two babies and a double stroller up and down all those damn stairs?

(Yeah.  Turned out the babysitter was a flake.)

So we get there, and despite the class being listed on Jewish Homeschoolers of NYC, I was the only Jewish family there.  I don’t mind my kid getting a little diversity, but I knew Builder wouldn’t be too happy.  Also, none of the parents, myself included, were actually homeschooling yet!  All of them had brought their oldest children, 2 and 3 year olds.  Some had decided they would homeschool, some were yuppie parents weighing their options, but none of them were really “official” yet.  (If your kid’s under six, you ain’t homeschooling.  Sorry.) 

So, we get to the classroom in the Gorilla House, and I could tell right away that the class leader was expecting an older crowd.  I guess she didn’t get the memo that everyone in the class would be under 4.  She expected everyone to sit still and listen, know their letters, and accomplish all of these feats without parental help.  Once she figures out that this group still has some members in diapers (including Thing 1), she has to switch gears very quickly.  So, she pulls out a frog puppet, which Thing 1 immediately covets.  When the puppet goes away,  Thing 1 lets me, and the entire class, know that she wannnnts it back.  Right at the top of her lungs.  Yeah, not one of our prouder moments.  I soon find out, however, that the yuppie parents have been dragging their kids to events like this for quite a while, and their little ones know how to behave.  Only one other member of the group has a younger sibling, and by younger, I mean practically Thing 1’s age.  So, not only am I behind on the “socialization,”  I’m also breeding too much.

After we match a few animals to the letters their names start with, then the fun begins.  We get to see live animals!  A chinchilla and a turtle put in an appearance, and I actually get Thing 1 to sit still long enough to pet both animals.  Finally, as little attention spans begin to wander, we take a tour of the Gorilla House.  After the class, I walk around with a couple of the other parents, and find out that winter is not the best time for a trip to the zoo.  Many of the exhibits are closed because of the weather.  So the other parents and I make our way to the giraffe house, and I find out that there’s an art class for toddlers at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The 3-year-old “student” in this class lets me know that “Perseus” holds Medusa’s head.  And I thought Thing 1 was doing well correctly identifying the color pink.

However, the day wasn’t a total loss.  I did meet the mom who put the class together, and she is a real homeschool mom, in that her kid is actually old enough to be homeschooling.  We talked for a while about the logistics of organizing a meetup in Central Park for the homeschoolers on the board.   Finally, people to talk shop with!  How to find materials for limudei kodesh!  And, of course, how to navigate New York tricky homeschool laws!

Should I go back next week?  Naah!

Published in: on February 26, 2009 at 4:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Planning for next year

It’s hard to believe, but Thing 1 will be 3 years old this fall.  My sweet, adorable baby will be starting preschool this fall.

In a manner of speaking.

I’ve already come up with a tentative four-day schedule that combines stories, music, songs and pre-school skills.   Each day’s “studies” should take about an hour, plus playtime and teatime.  Our day will start with “circle time,” when start with a candle and drum.  The candle’s colors will be chosen for the season and appropriate time on the Jewish calendar.  Afterwards will be a song and davening.  Following circle time will be a reading, preschool skills, craft/cooking/block play to classical music, another reading, and Jewish studies (aleph-bet and stories from the Tanach).  Then, the rest of the day will be spent in “masterly inactivity” at a local park (weather permitting) followed by “tea time,” which will include poetry.

I’ll be pulling my materials from the Ambleside Online Year 0 list.  For the Jewish Studies, I’ll be asking for help from a homeschool-friendly source, who shall remain nameless (let’s just call him my Ivrit connection). 

Time to start gathering materials.  Now for a name.  Still need to think of one….suggestions will be helpful.

Published in: on February 1, 2009 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

The “benefits” of playgroup

Thing 1, although she’s big for her age, just turned two last month.  Inevitably, someone will ask me if she goes to playgroup.  Now, please understand that “playgroup” does not mean a group of moms who get their kids together so that a good time can be had by all.  I’d have no problem with that.   “Playgroup” means a half-dozen two-year-olds and a “teacher” meeting three mornings a week so that the parents can have a break. 

Playgroup, also known as “school” (some even have their own yellow school buses), is supposed to be beneficial because it provides two-year-olds with socialization opportunities, structure, and the chance to gain some independence.  Let’s examine each of these in turn, shall we?

1. Socialization opportunities.  What social skills do two-year-olds learn from each other?  Many two-year-olds are pre-verbal.  Even the ones that aren’t are  still prone to frequent tantrums.  At this stage, kids do “parallel play”, when they play next to each other, rather than with each other.  Until they notice that one of their “friends” has a toy they want.  This leads to hitting, fighting and crying.  Let’s face it.  Most kids this age have the social finesse of Beatrix Potter’s Fierce Bad Rabbit.

2. Structure.  I once saw a sight that would have been funny if it hadn’t been so pathetic.  A dance class for toddlers was participating in the studio’s annual recital.  These kids, in shimmering costumes and more makeup than JonBenet, were supposed to be doing a dance to “Let Me Entertain You.”  Instead, they stood in their places, shuffled their feet, and stared straight ahead with a deer in the headlights look.  The moral of that story is: toddlers are too young for that sort of structure.  You can’t force it.

3. Independence:  Please.  They’re not moving out and getting jobs next week.   Thing 1 needs me.  I’m her mommy!  I’m supposed to kiss her boo-boo’s, read her stories, and give her “mommy hugs!”  She’s still in diapers!  She still needs me to tie her little shoes!  I’m not going to push her out of the nest yet.  Besides, even spending all day with me, she still wants to “do self-self” plenty of times.

Published in: on December 21, 2008 at 1:08 pm  Comments (1)