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Class Sleepovers At 5

May
18
2006

Today I’ve got a little match-up quiz for you.
Match each kindergarten class with the country where it’s located:
Class A: These kids are taking a trip to a “pumpkin patch” around Halloween, where the kids will go on some rides, do some pumpkin-related activities and bring home a pumpkin. (Did I mention that pumpkins are involved?) The activity lasts for a few hours during the school day, and adults in attendance include the teacher and one parent for every four students.
Class B: These kids are visiting a farm where they’ll do some farm-type stuff and learn about plants and animals, with an ecological bent to the lessons. The trip is overnight, with three teachers going along for the whole class of 30-plus, and some (unknown to the parents) farm staff there to direct activities.
Now, which class is in Spain and which is in the U.S.? Here’s a hint: lawsuits are a lot more common in the U.S.
Oh yes, Son the Elder’s class of five- and six-year-olds is going on an overnight trip. This is common in Spanish schools for kids this age. The small group of English-speaking moms at the school were all quite taken aback of course and trying to decide whether to send their kids just for the day or to go against first instinct and let them spend the night. In the U.S., at least in my day, schools didn’t sponsor overnight trips until high school, when kids could really do some damage. (The U.K. apparently starts a bit younger; no word on Australia and New Zealand yet but I’ll keep you posted.)
This one really surprised me, I must say. There’s absolutely no way his old California kindergarten class would ever have gone on an overnight trip, especially without a single parent around. Parents would have gone ballistic if it had been proposed: kids would have been pulled out for home schooling, the principal would have had to resign, local TV “news” would have done a feature on how to keep your kids safe when they’re spending the night away from home.
But one woman’s careful parenting is another’s overprotectiveness, and vice versa or whatever, I suppose.
Besides a different legal system, the absence of that local TV news-style hysteria (in part because TV news is regional or national) when horrible things happen to children is another factor that contributes to the different approach to letting go here. I don’t know if that also means there’s less legitimate public attention paid to what can happen. The occasionally hyper-protective U.S.-trained mom in me can certainly come up with an extensive list of what could happen, if anyone asks (not that they have yet, and I suppose that’s OK, although I’d certainly be less oppressive than the parasite expert I was talking to the other day who could make you swear off any food except boiled water, but I guess the school really doesn’t need to worry about most of that, although farms do have a lot of dirt from what I understand).
So I’ll keep that list to myself and trade it for the list of what kids should pack that the school sent out. After all, the kid’s five. It’s about time he was out on his own. At least around here.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 5:01 PM | Permalink

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