Yesterday I read the school newsletter and found that while my big girls will be in straight classes next year – year 4 and 5, the admin at the school are bracing us parents early for the prospect of a year 1/2 class and a 2/3 class. Now if you know me, you will know that I am not in favour with this idea. Some may disagree with the way I am thinking, but here it goes.
My youngest little girl will be going into year 2 next year, she is one of the youngest in her class, being a late May baby, but if its up to me – I would be pushing for her to go into the 2/3 class rather than the 1/2 class. I would prefer Chanel in a straight year two class, but if that is not on offer…well then we will have to work with what there is. Now here is my reasoning for pushing her into the 2/3 class despite the fact that she is one of the younger ones.
When the preps graduate and head into year one its quite an ordeal for them as there are big changes to the whole system of school. The preps are mostly nurtured and cared for in a caring and lovely manner (mostly) and then they hit ‘real school’, or should I say ‘the new curriculum’. Now Chanel’s teacher has cared for and nurtured the year ones this year, as well as encouraged them to grow and become ‘big kids’. We have been blessed out of our socks with regard to having this teacher, however, as a mum of older kids, and seen the positive and negatives of the system as it may be enforced upon us next year, I don’t want Chanel put into a class where she has to compete, or should I say the year 2’s in the 1/2 class. The year 2’s need just as much attention as the year ones, and the year 2’s have a lot of work to cover considering they have the Naplan test in the second term of year 3. I just don’t believe for one minute that the junior primary should have to contend with composite classes.
Chanel is a completely different child to our second child, Bethany, who was in the year 1/2 class last year (2011). I thought that since Bethy struggled through year one, I felt that maybe it would be a good idea for her to be in the year 1/2 class so that she could catch up on some of the basics that the year 1’s were learning. despite many chats with the teacher regarding my belief that Bethy needed learning support, I was told that she (Bethany) was fine and doing well. I knew how Bethy was doing just by her frustration with the homework, and her readers. Bethy was far from fine. The other issue we had with Bethy is that every single friend that she had from prep and year one was put into the 2/3 class, on the other side of the school. To make matters worse – the year 2’s in this class were kept separate from the year 2’s in Bethany’s area of the school, so there was only a few opportunities to catch up while the kids were at school. It was horrible. Bethany was so upset that she wasn’t with the little girls that she was familiar with and loved – it took the majority of semester 1 to get calm her. Obviously she did make some friends with some other kids, but it took a long time for the tears each day to stop. My question to this day is – Did Bethy’s teacher last year say she was doing well from a year 1 point of view or from a year 2 point of view? An important issue for me as a mum!
I think the thing that really frustrated me the most was that Bethy had to face the Naplan test at the beginning of term 2 of year 3, this year and lets just say that her results were as expected. Bethany was far from being of a year 3 level. She had only just started learning support and really there was no way that she was going to do well in that exam. As a mum, I really should have kept her home and not done the test at all with her. She said after the test that she walked out of the Naplan test realising how dumb she was, she believed she got the majority of the questions wrong. Obviously I don’t believe she is dumb – she is a late bloomer – exactly like me – kids like Bethany and me , don’t fit into the education system as it stands today.
It has taken months to get Bethy’s confidence back up and to enjoy going to school, I thank Learning Support for this. I have learned over the last two years that it is so incredibly important to listen to your heart and your gut feeling with ‘what to do, mum issues’. Thankfully her teacher this year felt it was important that Bethany get learning support – but she waited till the end of term one to ask me if it was okay to put her in, and then 4 weeks of term two went by before Bethy started going. The one thing I will say is that Bethy’s year 3 teacher agreed that Beth should have had learning support last year. If only we could redo situations and circumstances, I think ‘one’ has to wonder if Bethany had been in a class with only year 2 kids, her friends, and had learning support – would we have had a better year?
Now with Chanel possibly being forced into the situation of a composite class – either 1/2 or 2/3 – I know that I will be pushing her to go up to the 2/3 class. Hopefully the right friends will be with her from her class going into the next year. I know that I will be complaining if the year 2’s collectively don’t get opportunities to play together. Its a small school, and they need to have the familiarity of their peers. I know Chanel will be upset if she gets split up from the kids in her class – the girls in particular, but there are a couple of boys she will be sad to not be sitting with!
Anyway, at the heart of it – I am not a fan of composite classes. Maybe for some kids, composite classes work – but from my experience -if I have my way, I would prefer not to be forced into the situation of a composite class.