Another Brick in the Wall…or Hand to Stamp

Saturday morning was the first day of a new session of gymnastics. I was already a little apprehensive because the parks district had reorganized the levels for preschool gymnastics. The basic structure used to be Newcomer, Preschool, and Advanced. Then they would divide each level into 3 & 4-year olds and 4 & 5 year olds. And they apparently had another class for really young 3& 4 year olds that were really good, and this really confused everybody. So now they just have two levels: Preschool 1 and Preschool 2.

The problem is that DD#3 had been in the Advanced class, and now she is in Preschool 2 for ages 4-6. I wondered if this class would be a step backwards from what she was doing last spring when she took gymnastics. Some of my concerns were valid, because our daughter is easily the best in the class. And that’s not just parental pride. I think she is the oldest and most physically developed for one thing. Some of the girls were obviously barely four, and most of the girls needed extensive teacher assistance just to do a basic tumble or walk on the low balance beam. Our daughter can do a tumble like you or I would breathe, effortlessly.

Technically you have to be six years of age to graduate from Preschool gymnastics to Developmental (non-competitive) gymnastics, but I think I am going to talk to the parks district about moving her up immediately. It’s not that I want my daughter to be a superstar gymnast. In fact, I am thrilled that she has no desire to ever compete. I just don’t want her to get held back and bored. I think she would have more fun in a more challenging class.

I don’t know if this is also indicative of the restructuring, but they changed the way class ends, too. This led to a personal incident that left my daughter in tears. Usually there are three or four preschool classes going on in the gymnastics room on Saturdays with one or two teachers working with each group. Then at the end of class the teachers give all the kids in their own class an ink stamp on the hand. Well, early on my daughter decided that she doesn’t like getting her hand stamped, and she always tells her teacher as soon as the ink pad comes out. Well, this time they lined all of the kids in the room up together. One teacher frantically went down the line trying to stamp each hand (each child received a different stamp on each hand) while the other three gabbed. My daughter didn’t see her coming down the very long line of kids. Suddenly, the teacher just grabbed her hand and stamped it before my daughter realized what was going on. She immediately got upset and pulled her clean hand away from the teacher.

I could see it coming from the viewing area, but there was nothing I could do to stop it. My husband and I were furious of course, but at the same time I know that the teacher didn’t mean to hurt my daughter like that. It was just kind of a side effect of the machine, and my daughter was just the product on the assembly line.

One of the first things my daughter said when class ended was, “She didn’t even ask me if I wanted a stamp.” I explained that when you have a big group of kids like that adults sometimes get caught up in what is best for the group rather than the individual. We resolved that we would remind the teacher before class next time that she does not want to be stamped. It really put a big damper on the whole class for her.

Between our daughter being held back based on her age rather than her ability and that her person was violated because she dares to be an individual, the whole thing just brought home to my husband and I why we homeschool. Obviously she needs to learn to take some group instruction and know that not everything revolves around her own personal desires, but I’m not sure she needed to learn that lesson from being inked up against her will. But I understand that all the teacher saw was another hand to stamp. Maybe Pink Floyd weren’t just being contrary; maybe they were really on to something.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Homeschooling/Education, Parenting

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