Seeing the kindergartners playing together and lining up to go into school each morning is a highlight of my day. Gather together 160 kids of all colors, nationalities, and religions, and watch them interact as if they've never heard of bigotry, bias, and racism. See the spectrum of skin colors: the dark brown kids and the medium brown kids and the light brown kids and the olive kids and the pale-skinned kids all chase each other before it's time to line up; in line, the differences they note pertain to who has Spider-Man and who has Star Wars on his backpack. Even the diversity is diverse: the Asian kids include South Asians, mainland Asians, Filipinos, Asian kids adopted into American families, and mixed kids. The "African-American" kids include just that, as well as kids whose families immigrated from assorted African nations; there are assorted mixes in this group, too. As for the kids labeled as Hispanic, some speak Spanish at home, some speak English at home, some are black, some are various mixes. Even the white kids are a diverse group, with some of the kids hailing from European-immigrant families. (There's also a dad with horn-shaped jewelry in his piercings who shaves the top of his head. His daughter? She wears as much pink as anyone.) I assume that many different religious traditions are represented, too, though they're visible only on the Muslim girls who opt to cover their hair. And the kindergartners' families cover a range of income levels. The school enrollment forms ask parents to pick a single ethnic descriptor for their kids; what do you suppose the Peruvian mom and German/Chinese dad put down for their kid? Or the parents of an Asian/African-American kid? I hate the "pick one" forms; they're so retro, so inaccurate. But I love this school.
After Ben's tryout in the gifted class last week, they pronounced his work "not quite there." Ben was pleased to return to his homeroom, because (a) the gifted class's teacher gave handouts that were "too hard," and (b) he knew the kids there already. (And I'm glad he'll get the exposure to Spanish. "Buenos dias!" he tells me each morning) They tracked the kids into language/reading groups last week, and he's in the highest group below the gifted class (together with a few kids from his homeroom). For two hours a day, he's with a different teacher for language—and the boy is already learning about sentences! (He ended his name with a period one day.) Legible printing continues to elude him, but we're working on it. Someone was telling my mom that back in the day, kindergarten was for learning the ABCs and how to play well with others. Ben mastered that in pre-K, so I'm glad he's moving on to words and sentences. After that? Crossword puzzles. I have high hopes.
The first inkling of gentle anti-atheist bias has cropped up on a worksheet page. Ben was supposed to color in all the pictures of things starting with the letter A. He was going to skip the winged, haloed girl because he though the angel was a fairy, which most certainly does not start with A. Pfft! (I passed up the chance to explain to him what an angel is.)