The first week went great. Until Friday that is. When we got home, there was a note in Punkin's agenda from her teacher telling me that Punkin had not participated in the class' Brain Exercises all week and for me to please talk to her about it.
We talked to Punkin about it, but trying to find out WHY she doesn't want to participate is about like trying to get secrets from the Sphinx. She either can't or won't articulate the reasons. But when we were talking with her about it, she demonstrated some of the moves for me, so I know she can do them.
So, we started out telling her what the consequences would be if she didn't participate, but then I remembered that Punkin responds much better to rewards than threats, so we told her that if she did her Brain Exercises every day this week, I would buy her a toy of her choosing (within reason, of course) this weekend.
Now I'll be honest, I really had no idea what Brain Exercises even are. Bubba piped up that he had done them last year, but not in kindergarten, so it must be a relatively new thing the school does. So, I Googled them just now and found a description of Brain Gym, which sounds like what Punkin is describing. I was going to copy it here, but it's easier just to go to this page. In addition to the things you see listed on that page, at the end, the kids are to put their fingertips together, breathe deep, and vocalize their one goal for that day.
Now listen, I'm all for helping kids learn, but this sounds a little woo woo to me. I'm justAlso, to make such a big deal about it in kindergarten is somewhat frustrating to me as well.
BUT, I get that Punkin needs to learn to follow directions and do what the teacher tells her to, even if if she doesn't want to.
So. Yesterday when I picked Punkin up, her parapro was in the office. When I asked her if Punkin had done her Brain Exercises she said yes. Punkin and I high fived and we went home. Where I opened her agenda to find a note from her teacher that yes, she HAD done them, but not to the degree that the teacher would have liked and that she gave Punkin several opportunities to do better and when she didn't, she "pulled a card" on Punkin. For the uninitiated, "pulling a card" is what happens when the kids get in trouble. There are levels of cards for different levels of offenses and the punishment varies depending on the color of the card, but usually consists of missing some or all of their recess time.
I'm not going to lie, my first thought was "Seriously? This is a little nit-picky if you ask me." But I HAD asked for feedback. So, what to do? Punish? Not punish?
Perhaps I was a little harsh, but I opted to punish Punkin. Because her unwillingness to do what she is asked is an ongoing problem with her, I went with punishment. We normally allow the kids to watch cartoons while I'm getting dinner ready, but I made her turn the television off and let Bubba watch cartoons in my bedroom.
She wailed. She cried. She yelled at me. I sent her to her room until she could apologize AND tell me what she'd done wrong. She kept wailing "I can't stop crying! I can't stop thinking about television." It wasn't fun, for me or her, but I hope the message got through.
I just wish I believed in the message.
She pinky promised me she would do her Brain Exercises today. With gusto, even. We'll see.