No need to exaggerate when the truth is bad enough

>> Friday, June 20, 2008

My mother is famous for her southern-esque sayings.... this is one of them. So is "it's cold enough to kill hogs in here." So obscure yet descriptive. :) This particular saying (the title, not the hogs) came to mind today after a very bizarre experience at our local park district.

In an attempt to keep our boys busy and challenged all summer, my best friend and I signed up our sons for a few classes at the Village Park District. We just finished our two weeks of swimming lessons with moderate success and today was the first of another five week class. This class is supposed to be half story/craft time and half fitness/gym class. The write up in the catalog sounded great, it was relatively cheap and got us out of the house for 90 minutes on Friday mornings. Can't lose, right? Not so much.

We got there today and were greeted by total chaos. No introduction from the teacher, no formal start to the class. Just total chaos. My friend and I were instructed that most parents just drop the kids off and come back at the end to pick them up. Not what I was anticipating but worth a shot, I guess. Lucas is a fairly adjustable kid, he can probably handle it (so I thought). When I left, he was playing quite contently with some trucks and farm animals. So we walked away, sat on a bench outside the room and hoped for the best. Not even 5 minutes later, I hear Lucas crying at the door. This "teacher" had no control over the room. She brought her 2 kids (approx. ages 8-12) with her to the class meant for ages 2-4. The only stories at this morning's "Story time" were read by a very soft-spoken 13yr. old girl that we can only assume was the aide. There was about 5min. of coloring, a scary parachute activity and lots of trying to corral a handful of unruly kids. My friend commented it was like "bad daycare" at best. I would NEVER have left Lucas there alone if I had known it would be like that. Out of control and definitely NOT what was pitched in the catalog.

We had high hopes for the fitness portion of the class. "Come tire out your kids and teach them fun fitness activities" the class description promised. The 45min class basically consisted of a 7minute game of "red light, green light" (this is a class for 2 year olds, mind you), 5 minutes of teaching the "bear walk," a few minutes of free-for-all ball playing and LOTS of chasing down the kids who ran out of the gym while the "teacher" wasn't paying attention. Then, with 20min. still left in fitness class, she ushers all the kids back into the original, small room we started in and the hyped up kids begin to tear the place apart. Trying to stay in the background but close enough to rescue Lucas from any danger, I sat on a mini-chair on the side and let the "teacher" handle the room. At one point, a child became entangled in the parachute and had to be rescued. This same child came and tried to steal Lucas' water bottle from my hands and yelled at me that he was thirsty when I didn't turn it over. Children were screaming, the teacher was trying (I think) to organize some play activities like trains, etc... It was just more chaos. Lucas wisely found a corner and began to play (alone) with some farm animals. My friend's son found a tool bench and tried to play until he was "attacked" by another kid with the play-drill. I left there kinda shell-shocked and feeling like I have never wanted to home-school more in my life.

I want to give this lady the benefit of the doubt. She seemed completely in over her head. But there is NO WAY I would EVER leave Lucas in her care. I don't even know if we will go back. I mean, at one point today, a child completely left the room and this lady had to chase her down, leaving 5 other two year olds unattended in a gym with a 13yr old girl and her two kids.

Hubby says I need to notify the park district.

What would you do? Would you go back and try to give this class/"teacher" a chance? It really was as bad as I have described. I am not exaggerating. No need to.


Heather June 21, 2008 at 5:14 AM  

I'm with your Hubby on this one. Some parents may not care and just want a 90 minute break. But this class is nothing like the description, plus it's dangerous. Some kid could get hurt or worse....

TwoSquareMeals June 21, 2008 at 7:09 AM  

Since it was her first week, I'd give it one more chance to see if she just got surprised by the number of kids. As a teacher, I know you sometimes get into something you aren't prepared for. First days can be terrible. If it's still that bad, let the park district know. Maybe suggest that someone there help her structure the class better and that another (adult) aid is needed.

Adventures In Babywearing June 21, 2008 at 9:40 AM  

I am a very open minded and loving person, but in that type of situation, I would definitely not go back and I'd also let the park department know. It very well could have been a first day thing, but first impressions are SO very important to parents- especially if you're leaving your child in their care. I'd do it for your own peace of mind, too- are you going to feel on edge every time he's at that class? Is that worth it?


Elizabeth June 21, 2008 at 3:44 PM  

I am with hubby....

Cindy Fey June 21, 2008 at 9:12 PM  

Talk to the park district. Competent teachers don't need a warm-up day - they hit the ground running. The woman doesn't have the classroom management skills to handle pre-schoolers. I'm so glad for your son that you stayed with him!

Atwood-Family of 3 June 22, 2008 at 5:45 AM  

Yes, I would notify the park district because at best, this is NOT what you signed up for and at worst it's dangerous.

Catherine June 22, 2008 at 1:46 PM  

Two days out, I'm finally beginning to recover from this experience. I can say honestly that you are not exaggerating!!! I saw it with my own eyes!!!

I think I'm planning to try it again next week, b/c the teacher herself could obviously see that it didn't work. Then, most definietly drop out (well, maybe not out of gym, but story time anyway) and talk to the park district either way...

Sara June 26, 2008 at 1:12 PM  

I would definitely call the park district and air your concerns. We recently had a tough issue with a class not meeting expectations (although not nearly as bad as yours), and when I called the park district to see if I had misunderstood the class description, they talked to the teacher and improved things. At the very least, you can voice your concerns and note that if you don't see improvement tomorrow, you will be asking for a refund.

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