Visiting a Kindergarten Class

Updated on April 09, 2013
H.A. asks from Saint Albans, VT
25 answers

Need some balanced perspective on this, especially from kindergarten teachers. Our son will be entering kindergarten this fall, and the school in our district has 6 kindergarten classes. We attended an evening introduction last week, and there is another one scheduled for next month. BUT it was short and very busy; there wasn't much time to talk to teachers and of course, since it's in the evening, we don't get to observe any teaching.

I contacted the school today to see if I could attend classes some morning to get a sense of how the teachers interact with kids, etc. I was told that I could meet with the teachers after school, but I could not visit the classes. The adminstrator said it would be disruptive and what if all 70 parents wanted to do that? Harumpph -- given how surprised she was by my request, I'd be really surprised if even a small fraction of parents wanted to...

So now I'm pretty upset and have worked myself up. There's only one public school our son can attend, but there are other options in the area (Montessori, etc.) and I'd like to have all available info before we decide where to send him. Am I being unreasonable in wanting to observe classes? Would you push the issue?

On a related note, I plan to ask each teacher if they welcome parent volunteers. (I now volunteer one morning a week at our kiddo's preschool.) So that might help me learn whether this is the right place for our son.

EDITED TO ADD: Thanks for all the great feedback so far. To clarify a few points:
1. As I understand it, parents have some input in requesting a classroom. You say who would be your first, second or third choice, or if you have no preference. That's why I want to gather as much info as possible before enrolling our child and requesting a classroom.
2. I have not rejected the idea of meeting each teacher individually. I will be doing that.
3. I would be volunteering AFTER our child was enrolled. It's KNOWING whether a teacher allows parent volunteers that would help me better understand whether this is a good fit for our child. If they don't want volunteers, it makes me wonder if they're insecure or not comfortable with other adults observing how they teach.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for the feedback! I will not be asking further about visiting the school during classes. I appreciate those who took the time to show me what it was like from the school's perspective.

Featured Answers


answers from Kansas City on

honestly if you're that concerned and plan to be THAT involved - i would say find a private school. i would not be thrilled about random parents (that don't even have kids in my son's class) just watching his class. kind of creepy. and i certainly wouldn't appreciate people dropping in and just staring at me, while i did my job. pay for a private school- they, i understand, have to cater a bit more to demanding parents.

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answers from New York on

Yes you are being unreasonable and no i would not push the issue. A stranger in a class will be disruptive.
Do you not trust the teachers to care for your child and teach him. Send him off in the fall with a smile and know he will be fine Do not get yourself worked up over this. Just talk to the teacher. In reality you do not know what teacher he will have. They all have different styles of teaching. So catch your breath. He will do fine.

10 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

Your request is very odd, and yes, it would disrupt the class 100%. Your child is not even technically a student yet. There is no point in observing a teacher that may or may not actually be your son's teacher, with kids that won't be in his class. You can't expect them to break policy for you just because you don't agree. They did give you an alternate way to meet the teachers, and you rejected that idea straight away. As a parent of a child in school, I wouldn't want some random stranger in my kid's classroom, either.

The meeting you went to was just for informational purposes. Your child will be assigned a teacher closer to the school year and then you will probably have a "meet the teacher" night a week-ish before school starts and you can ask her all the questions you want then. You will get a lot more detailed info at that point.

Wait until your child is in school and then volunteer. That will give you a true feel of how the class is run and how the teacher is. You will not know if it's a good place for your son until he's in the trenches. You can decide after a while what you think of everything. Not to mention, you can request a teacher based off a recommendation or meeting, but that doesn't mean that teacher will be a good match for your child.

Do you not have access to school reviews, ratings, and opinions of the school/teachers in your community? It sounds like you live a small place if you only have this one elementary to choose from.

I'm assuming this is your first child and you are anxious about sending him off to "big kid" school. Don't make your fears, your son's fears. Learn how to pick your battles. And please don't be "that mom" before he's even started. I can relate to your feelings, they are definitely normal, but don't let your emotions cause you to be unreasonable. And lastly, be flexible with your expectations and know when to compromise.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

As a teacher I would hate having parents "observe" in my class while I'm working. It would be incredibly distracting for both me and the students. The idea of taking learning time away from other children just to make yourself feel better is pretty arrogant if you ask me.
As a parent I certainly wouldn't appreciate outside adults coming in to observe or volunteer in my child's classroom either (sorry but unless you have a child at my school I would consider you a stranger, and our school would never allow this.)
I think you're way over thinking this. There are so many ways to research schools now there is simply no reason to demand this.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I currently teach high school, but used to teach elementary. I never minded visitors in my classroom, but, I would be uncomfortable if prospective parent after parent wanted to come see my class while teaching. It is a disruption, any visitor is, but it is less so for volunteers who are in the classrooms on a normal basis, so that the students are used to it. When we would have random educators or parents come who the kids did not know or see on a regular basis, it turned the focus away from me and the lesson, and to who the person was in the room, even after introductions were done. My son is going to kinder this upcoming year. I am thrilled with the school he will attend, and am not concerned about which teacher he gets. Are you "shopping" for a particular teacher? That can be uncomfortable for many teachers, as they feel like they need to put on a show when the parents come in, so you are not likely to see a "normal" day, anyway.

In my opinion, I don't think it is a personal thing against you that they don't want to have you visit, it really is more of not wanting to disrupt the flow of the day, especially at the kinder level.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

Just ask if you can volunteer in class.

And typically, parents (at least at my kids' school), of Kindergarteners... always walk with their child to the classroom, then go into the classroom with their child, get them to their desk and say their goodbye's etc. And the Teachers at my kids' school, have NO problem with that.
Some Moms are there in the classroom for awhile, and help, too.
IF the Teacher, needs help.

Per the evening introduction you went to... these are not typically a social. It is, time constrained and the grade level Teachers typically give an overview... of the school/grade level, introduce the Teachers etc. It is not a "meeting" nor a time to socialize or have all the parents, ask each Teacher questions. That would take, all night to do so.
And being there are 6 Kindergarten classes, that is many parents to attend to, at these "orientation" type introductions.
And at these functions, at least at my kids' school, they may pass out flyers to the parents with, information on it. And tell you about the curriculum etc.

Until your child, is actually assigned to a Teacher and classroom... you will not know who your child's Teacher, actually is. Unless the class lists were already made, prior to your going to that introduction meeting that you went to in the evening.

And it is true, that if all the Moms... wanted to just "attend classes" and "observe" the Teacher, then what? Yes, it will or may disrupt all the kids... remember that the kids are getting used to, "school." And the Teacher... has to, get her classroom/kids into a routine... and get them used to things, too. It is hard work.
Then, if you observe the Teacher and the class... and attend classes, then what? If you just want to be in the classroom... then Volunteer.
But keep in mind, that per each child, they make act differently if their Mommy is there. And they may not then, listen to the Teacher. Or they may... cry... if you are there, etc.
With my kids when they were that age and even now... I ALWAYS INTRODUCE MYSELF to the Teacher, and extend my... volunteering to her. I don't just wait... for the Teacher to come to me. Remember, she has TONS of kids and parents... to remember. And she cannot possibly go up to EACH parent, and get all social with them. As soon as school starts and the kids enter the classroom... a Teacher, HAS TO, be on top of things and get the kids rounded up and settled in, and begin her classroom routines. It is BUSY. Believe me. I am there, in the mornings at my kids' school... and it is BUSY and the Teacher is BUSY. She cannot... possibly, stop and chat with each Mom... that may be there. Because, she has to keep her eyes and ears... on her students. Constantly.

Just ask your child's Teacher, if he/she needs Volunteers.
But, it is up to the Teacher.
Some Teachers do not. Some do.

But the thing is: you seem to want to "observe" the Teacher and her classroom... in order to see if this is the right place for your son. BUT, he would already be... enrolled, there, once you do that. And school would have already started. So if you find it is not the right school for him... you will pull him out and put him in another school?
Or will you ask that he be put into another Teacher's classroom?
That would mean, that you'd need to observe the classes/Teachers, for 6.... rooms. Being there is 6 classes in that grade level.

School, is also about realizing that every year, there are different teachers that will be teaching your child. All sorts of teaching styles and approaches and classroom dynamics. But, in all grades/classes, the school's curriculum... is a certain way.
And each year, a child adjusts... to having a new and different teacher... and classroom dynamic. Unless, you are not happy with the school, overall. Then in that case, you'd need to find another school entirely, for your child.
This is Elementary school. Not Preschool anymore.
And remember, that NO Teacher/classroom, will be perfect.
But a child also has to learn... to adjust.... to new and different Teachers and grades, EACH year. And yes, different teaching... styles.
This is how elementary school is.
Then there is the grade level curriculum... of which, each grade's requirements, are different.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Wowza! Ok, I'm not a teacher, but myself and two other women are Girl Scout leaders for 15 first graders. I can TOTALLY see why they don't let parents or adults observe class.

First, it's completely distracting to the classroom - the kids will all be distracted by the lady sitting in back staring at them.

Second, it's not the teachers job to "sell" Kindergarten at that school to you - which is essentially why you would be there, kind of like an audition.

Third, they don't really know who you are. They are not going to let an unknown adult sit in a classroom and watch a bunch of 5 year olds. If I were a parent of one of the kids you are observing, I'd be royally pissed if they let you in. Just because you say you have a kid coming to the school next year doesn't make it so - you could be any crazy lady off the street. Yikes.

You do have a right to ask about the curriculum, and it's all probably on the districts web site.

I help my daughters first grade teacher during the day and she does not let me help in the classroom (nor the other 6 parents who volunteer for her). Believe me, it's not because she's insecure, it's because she needs to keep structure, and consistency in her room so the kids have a focused learning environment.

I agree with Adansmama - you may need to do private school. Because you pay them, they will have to put up with this. The public school will tire of you quickly.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Sorry your child isn't a student there yet so distracting a class to observe a teacher who may not even be your child's teacher seems odd to me. I would also would not want adults of non students to go into my child's classroom. You know for a safety factor, schools always encourage volunteers but they are background checked(at least at my child's school). I am just unsure how you would volunteer at the school if your child doesn't attend yet... Good luck.

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answers from Chicago on

I would find it odd that a random person (not a parent) was in the class. We have parent volunteers in my son's school, I know because I am one of them, however strangers in the class are a disruption. Heck, untl the kids get to know you as a regular parent volunteer it can be disruptive.

I do also have an opinion that if I am not welcome on campus neither is my child, however your child is not yet a student.

You should be able to find a solution, I would start with asking the teacher for a conference.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'd start with making an appointment to talk with the teacher. If you still want to visit her classroom after that, I suggest that she can make that happen.
It's a matter of respecting school policy. This means starting with talking with the teacher.

Please don't take this personally. Your request seems reasonable but you and I don't know the reasons for the policies they hold. I suggest it is somewhat disrespectful of you to get upset and demand that they change their policy for you. You need to find a way to work within their system.

You'll need to work within the school system from now on. Take this opportunity to get to know the teacher. Then talk with her about your concerns and why you want to visit her classroom. See if both your needs and the school's needs can be met with a compromise.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I understand your concerns. Unfortunately, these days schools have to be on the defensive. They have to be particular about who they allow in the school. And even quietly sitting in the back of the classroom IS in fact disruptive, especially to inquisitive kindergartners. So although you are motives are pure, in this day and age, I am afraid your request is a bit unreasonable.

Teaching assignments change and teachers quit. There is absolutely nothing that says these teachers will be there at your school next year. Some of these changes happen at the last minute.

You also may need to lower your volunteering expectations. I volunteer at our school in many ways. I was room mom last year and again this year. I am on the PTA this year and will be a board member next year. Even with all this volunteer time, it is rare that I am actually working in the classroom to assist the teachers or the school. Generally, I help during the teachers break period. And everyone else I know who volunteers also helps during those planning periods. I have a degree in education and spent six years teaching math. I too expected to be a volunteer in the class, working with kids. That has never happened, even when I offer to come in and assist. Unless it's a class party or chaperoning a field trip (and last year chaperones were even limited.) Our teachers have absolutely nothing to hide, but outside help is disruptive to the day.

I applaud the fact that you are taking an active interest and trying to find the best fit for your child. Unfortunately, you will probably have to change your research tactics. Go to the school meetings, set up conferences. Talk to parents with older students...that's where you get the inside scoop anyway. Drive by in the morning and afternoon to see how drop off and pick up is it orderly or a safety nightmare? Check online, there are many website who will rate your school and even teachers. There are many ways to get the information you seek.

And if observing the classroom and being allowed to actually be in the classroom to volunteer is that important to you, then you may have already answered your question. It is possible that this is not the right fit for you right now.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Unfortunately, that's pretty par for the course in public schools. They don't let anyone but parents of registered students visit the classroom.

I can see the reasons for it, but I also know that a lot of parents want to see the classroom -- I did too. Really, the administrators should be a whole lot more polite about this.

I don't think that's a reason not to send him there, unless you have other reasons not to. Just ask around like crazy and try to get a sense of what to expect via word of mouth.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

In our school district adults who are not parents of enrolled students are not allowed on campus during school hours. Parents of students needing to be on campus go through the office, sign in, wear a tag that identifies them as a "Parent Visitor" and are allowed only in areas they have business in, dropping off party goodies in a classroom I have to do this so allow myself time to "check-in." It is for the protection of the students, I for one am on board. I don't want my child being "observed" by someone who is not there in a professional capacity, even if the main purpose is to observe the teacher, sorry.

Kindergarten registration has been going on since February, in the office. It's an all-day K-program so there's no morning or afternoon choices, no teacher preferences until they go to first grade. Personally, I wouldn't push for the right to "observe," I trust the school to know what they're doing, you will have the opportunity to observe as a volunteer once he's enrolled in the school of your choice. I'd focus on what the school overall can offer my child, talking to other parents and reading objective reviews online would help with that.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Most of the schools, I know ours does, welcomes volunteers.

As for visiting the class.... I can see both sides. ALL parents who do any volunteer work, in the classroom, etc MUST apply to the school district and be cleared by a background check before they can work with or interact with children. Sounds tedious but it can all be done online at no charge to you.

IF a parent comes to the school to pick up their child before school is out, have lunch with your child and volunteer for anything.... the present a driver license and get a printed nametag EACH time the come in.

Our school is pretty rigid on everyone having a visible nametag and knowing the whereabouts of everyone and why they are there.

This runs very smoothly and is not time consuming for the parents.

The teachers will gladly meet with you for a conference to discuss whatever you need to discuss.

Keep in mind that each teacher teaches differently. All classrooms are not alike. You might visit a classroom and see the way they do things are not the same as the same grade level next door.

I don't think the school was trying to put you off. My thoughts are that they are thinking the safety of the children and quite honestly, it can be a deterrent when a parent is in the classroom at times for the children to focus.

Talk to your neighbors, friends who have children in that school and get a feel for it that way. Our elementary school families are tightly knit and it is very easy to get positive and negative info. Does the school have a facebook page? Join it so you can see the involvement.

Contact the principal again (not a a meeting when EVERYONE has questions and wants one on one time with teachers and staff) and give him/her your concerns and see if they might allow you a one time visit in order for you to gain solid information for your decision.

Best wishes.

ETA: I am surpeised that parents have input on what teacher they get. That is a no no in our district. Nothing stops you from a request but that is all they are.... a request in writing. Unless there is substantial info on hy you would not have a specific teacher, no changes are made once the class rolls are identified.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My son is in kinder this year. I have never heard of parents being allowed to observe the classes before enrolling their kids to see what was the right fit, not can parents observe once their kids are there. Volunteer, yes. Observe, no.

Honestly, I think you are overthinking this decision. If you like the school and think it is clean and full of happy children, send your son there. He will end up in a good classroom no matter which teacher he has.

What I would recommend is trying to talk to current parents at the school, especially parents of kindergarteners and first graders who have the most current/recent experience with the actual teachers. Ask them what they liked and didn't like. Ask what the teacher's personalities are like. Remember, a good fit for someone else might not be the right fit for your son.

It's really not something to be so worked up about. Yes, sending your kid off to kinder is a big deal, but he'll be fine. You can't be so involved in every step of the process.

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answers from Redding on

I know many teachers who welcome parent volunteers, HOWEVER, those parents actually have children in the classes.
Nowadays, even parents with children enrolled in the schools are to sign in in the office before just wandering the halls or campus. The schools have a duty to maintain the safety of the children.

I think it would be odd to just allow a complete stranger access to children and their classrooms.

There are seriously ill people in this world, I'm not saying you're one of them, but you are only seeing things from your standpoint.

I think you'll just have to accept that you will have to find a different way to make the choice as to what school your child will go to.

Just my opinion.

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answers from Washington DC on

I would meet the teachers and sign up for whatever parent listserv is available. You can learn a lot just from reading what other parents have to say and asking questions yourself. You might ask if there are parents with older children who are willing to talk to parents of incoming students. The PTA may be a good resource for that, as parents in the PTA tend to be more active and likely to speak to you. The PTA president him/herself may also be a good resource. I understand the desire to "kick the tires" but I can also understand why they would not want parents in the classroom. You might also ask if there is any volunteer work they need done and if an incoming K parent could help. Friend of mine reads to the kids once a week. Perhaps that could give you the context you want without being so disruptive.

And as far as volunteering, teachers only need certain things. One may prefer to do the reading herself but will send projects home (cutting shapes for class, for example). I wouldn't necessarily think the teacher is defective for not needing a particular type of volunteering.

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answers from Grand Forks on

Parents do not observe any classes in our schools. That would be extremely disruptive. Even when parents volunteer, unless it is for a class party, the parent is not in the classroom interacting with the children in any way, they are in the work room. That would also be disruptive. Parents do not get to request classrooms in our schools either.

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answers from Boston on

I sent my child through public school, and I have taught in private schools, so I have some perspective. I have to say, parental involvement can be a huge problem for their child. Parent volunteers are essential in many aspects of the school and their contributions are valued and welcomed, but having a parent in the classroom is a distraction. The teacher feels judged, and the kids are out of their routine if there's another person there. In the absence of a major complaint or problem, you're really there to "audition" the teacher and pass judgment on her behavior/techniques without necessarily having any background in education yourself (I assume).

Our district absolutely does not allow parents to choose or rank teachers in order of preference. The only things we have input on are a) parents of twins requesting that their kids be separated, b) neighbors or close friends requesting that their children not be put in the same class (but not determining where they actually go) and c) requesting that their child not be placed in the class of a teacher with whom the parent is friendly outside of school, and d) in rare instances, requesting that a second child not be placed with an individual teacher with whom the parent had a prior problem with an older child. So we don't choose or request where our kids go, but only where they DON'T go, and only in rare instances and for good reason (not just "I haven't heard good things about that teacher" or "I didn't like her attitude in the hallway"). There should be an "open school night" within a few weeks of the start of school, which gives groups of parents a chance to meet the teacher, see their own children's work in a folder or on the walls/bulletin board, and so on. Further into the year, there should be individual parent/teacher conferences. Most schools now have group emails from teacher to all parents, and some have something called the "Virtual Backpack" which alerts parents to homework or other items sent home (ideally) in the backpack so parents know what's expected and if anything has been lost or misplaced by the child.

In private schools, parents can be more involved, but it's not necessarily positive. Kids defer to the parent in the room instead of focusing on the teacher. We always had special visitor days when parents were invited in, and kids were prepared for it, and usually that was to observe a special program, performance or project.

I think you are worrying about things well in advance of any problems. I honestly don't know what you hope you can ascertain from a half hour in a classroom. Every class has a bad day now and then, and a lot of kids have problems on a given day. Also, many kids have behavioral issues, health issues, medication needs, and so on that are absolutely NOT the business of the general public.

Then there's the issue of the school having to pay for background checks for people in the schools who are not the parents of enrolled children. If your child were in the class, would you really want a parade of worried prospective parents sitting in every other day? Wouldn't you want some consistency in your child's daily classroom experience? You either trust the professionals in your district, or you don't. Moreover, in private schools, what assurance do you have about the abilities, personalities, or techniques of the teachers? You really have to go by the priorities and goals and philosophies of the various institutions you are considering, make a decision, and not get agitated unless you find a really and compelling problem that needs to be addressed. Part of the school experience is for kids to learn to function in other situations, to separate from their parents, to learn in a structured and carefully planned environment, and to connect with professional educators.

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answers from Detroit on

Ours required observation, or at least encouraged it (maybe not forced). I would not have asked to do so, but they lead me to the room when I handed in paperwork and I got to observe. I had a toddler with me and I felt out of place and prayed he didn't act up, so we would not be disruptive.

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answers from Denver on

That would be odd to me also. You would think they would want parents to see what a wonderful school and quality teachers they have!

I would feel inclined to "push" the issue, not to be disruptive but to see if it is a good fit for your family. If you have friends that have children there maybe you could ask their opinion.

Well, that is too bad that the school already put a bad taste in your mouth, right at the beginning of your child's school experience. Hopefully if you should decide to call back, you will reach a more seasoned school administrator or call the actual school district with your concerns.

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answers from Jacksonville on

That's very odd.
My daughter's school has TEN kindegarten classes, TEN first classes, etc. It is huge.
The librarian at her school wher I volunteer suggested I "volunteer" in the kindergarten classes to get a feel for the different teaching styles, techniques, etc.
Maybe you should try that phrase, tell the administrator you want to volunteer in the classes for an hour or so. I'm sure the teachers would welcome the help.
Good luck, I hope it works out for you!!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Well, I'm a middle school teacher by trade, but we had a magnet program and we encouraged parent tours and visits. We never had parents stay extended lengths of time in the classroom, though; that would indeed have been disruptive. However, if this school can't even give you a glimpse of an active classroom through the door, then I would consider that a red flag. They may have trouble with disruptive classes. My son goes to a Montessori preschool and they actually encourage parents to come in and observe for long periods of time! They teach the kids from the beginning to stay on task and ignore visitors, unless of course those visitors are specifically coming to interact with the kids. Students need to get used to that, because administrators and other officials will also be visiting their classes over the years. So yes, I would push the issue a little. Meeting the teachers is an absolute must. And if you have a good local Montessori school, strongly consider it as an alternative.

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answers from Detroit on

in our achool.... you do not know your childs teacher until a week before school starts. then there is a 30-45 minute session where your child gets to see the room and the teacher.. and then the first day of school you say bye to your child and they go into the classroom with the new teacher that is a stranger to them.

I didn't like it at all. I didn't know how the classes run and whatwas going on at all.

but that is the system int eh public school. if you want to pay tuition I bet you get more input in the school and teachers.

we do not get to pick teachers at all. some teachers like parent volunteers some teachers hate volunteers.



answers from New York on

I think people have already expressed the school's POV etc but I would add that it's just K. Meeting with each teacher individually?? Wow. Can you imagine if all the parents of each incoming student wanted to do that? Is your child so much more special than the other 69 kids? I get the anticipation and all about K. It's a big deal. But listen to some parents of older kids. It's just K. I know plenty of mothers who thought their kid was so special and our K was "too easy". Well, now I see these kids as older students and they by no means stand out academically. I don't think K is really the best measurement of a school. Ours was very easy. But I looked ahead at how the school rates overall, the general population, the feel of the campus etc. Now in the higher elementary grades, people are way more impressed. And some kids come in with very little preschool and the moms of kids who had a lot are smug at how much farther along their kids are - but it evens out! Some of these kids are the most advanced now. So I wouldn't waste your time stressing about K. Look ahead to the rest of the years. Talk to other parents in the district etc. But please do not ask each K teacher to sit down with you. That is potentially SEVENTY meetings for them. You must see how impractical that is. If you do want that kind of special attention, you really should go private. ALso - our school does allow volunteers who aren't parents. I know a mom who did it to scope out K ahead of time. She had to be fingerprinted, background tested etc. But she did it. And her child is now in private. Kind of cracks me up bc some of the stuff at her private school sounds ridiculous to me while judging our school on K was not accurate at all.

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