Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Whatever Happened to, Like, a Visit to the Local Fire Station?

Today is Julia's end-of-year kindergarten field trip. They go for the entire day, on a bus, to a city an hour away, to go to the zoo. (Note: there is another, larger zoo about a half hour away, which the first graders go to for their field trip. I have no idea why the kindergartners go to the farther zoo.)

Let's pause here for a moment to consider the idea of a bunch of five- (OK, six-) year-olds going on a bus for an entire day to a DIFFERENT CITY AN HOUR AWAY for a field trip.

Are you done considering?

Let me just point out that, when I was a kindergartner almost 35 years ago (gulp), there were no kindergarten field trips, let alone all-day field trips to another city. Also? I didn't go on a field trip to another city until the one-day ski trip in the sixth grade. (Totally traumatic, by the way. I am not the downhill-skiing type.)

My husband is going along on the bus to the field trip as a chaperone. He wanted to, but even if he hadn't, I was planning to go (and have him take the day off to stay home with Genevieve). Because no way was I sending my tiny, barely-six-year-old on a bus to a zoo an hour away, for the entire day, without her own parent along. No. Sorry, no. Am I the only parent to think kindergartners are too little to go on an all-day, traveling field trip? Am I the only one to think school and society has sped up to a ridiculous degree in the past 30 years, and that our tiny children are exposed to things at a far younger age than we were when we were kids, and that this is not a good thing? Have you noticed that kindergarten is the new first grade, and that what we used to do in kindergarten now happens in nursery school? I'm sorry, but I don't approve. Even if my daughter is crazy-excited about her field trip. (I doubt she'd be so excited were her daddy not coming along, though.)

OK, so, onward. The kicker is that it is POURING RAIN outside, and as dark as evening. It's supposed to rain all day. The kindergarten goes rain or shine. And Genevieve's outdoor preschool field trip, last month, which my husband also helped chaperone, took place in the rain as well. Seriously, can you imagine spending all day with a busload of five- and six-year-olds at the zoo in the pouring rain? My husband is a good man.

Coming tomorrow: Kindergarten Graduation. I've heard this involves hand-made caps with tassels, songs about finishing kindergarten, and recitations of poems the children wrote themselves. I have a feeling it is also going to involve tears (from the moms, not the kids). I think it goes without saying that I am NOT ready for my daughter to be done with kindergarten.


Rob Hardy said...

Even when it's not raining, Como Park Zoo is, in my opinion, one of the most depressing places in Minnesota. The Conservatory is great (and indoors), but the zoo just makes me sad.

You're right about the absurdity of such a distant field trip for kindergartners. Add in the cost of transportation, and the burning of fossil fuel just to see a bunch of sad animals in depressing cages. The school should start to think local. How about a field trip to one of the local alpaca farms? Or a CSA farm?

Mom said...

You might want to comment to the school's PTA or the school board. I definitely agree with both you and Rob! Too much, too fast, and in this economy, not necessary when there are other options much closer.

Mnmom said...

Long rant ahead.

Yes our little town is in a big hurry to speed up childhood. When my twins were in KG, 10 years ago, I was the only parent who thought a field trip to the Children's Museum was totally out of line. Boy-oh-boy did I get the glare and some unexpected comments when I refused to let them go.

A bus load of kg-ers at the Children's Museum? Are you kidding? It would be horrendous crowd control at best. And since they took the morning kids one day,and the pm kids another day it was two wasted days of classroom instruction. I actually asked the principal "can't you just walk them down to the post office?". I mean they are freaking KINDERGARTNERS! They'd be excited over a parked semi truck or a firefighter in full regalia in their classroom!

The school's response was "sorry you're such an overprotective mother who won't let her kids go on field trips and will stunt their exploratory skills for life". Seriously, that was their response. I still kept them home.

And now their HS wants to send them to England and Spain!

Mnmom said...

PS - Rob and Shan. I think we need to start a parents group for discussion of reasonable field trips.

Mary S. said...

Since -- as of Saturday -- I have no kids in the school system anymore, I hate to pile on, but Shannon has a point. Young children learn from things close to home just as much as from those farther away.

My kids (who attended St. Dominic's for elementary school, where money was always tight) went to a local farm on their kindergarten field trip. Just this past weekend, my 21-year-old recalled that trip, and that she fed a somewhat aggressive goat at the farm. Fifteen years later, she remembers the goat. Go figure.

Mommy Lisa said...

Oh Rob I SOOOO agree that the Como Zoo is DEPRESSING! One of my girlfriends came from ATL last year (she is from White Bear Lake) and her ONLY requests were a happy hour, eating at Leann Chin and the COMO ZOO! Ugh. I loved the happy hour~! She even said, "Ummm, what happend to Leann Chin food?" I had WARNED her it wasn't the same anymore...

My daughter's PRE-K went to the Como Zoo for half a day this spring. (And they went to a play in the fall - I did not let her go on that one because she didn't FIND OUT about it.) My BABY on a SCHOOL BUS??? nonononono. And this is not a public school, it is private LUTHERAN CHURCH (really cheap) pre-k.