June 5, 2010
nearing the end...on the verge of a new beginning
In Minnesota, the school year doesn't start until after Labor Day. That means that in the spring, the days drag on and on. The weather gets nice and kids get restless and school still persists. This year has been unusually hard, and the end can't come quite fast enough for this household. Consider:
How many worksheets IS too many? a worksheet, in my opinion, should be a means of recording useful information. Drill and skill is not helpful, and ten worksheets in one day is really at least nine too many.
How would you respond when, in response to a rough day at school, your child turns to you and says, "They just don't understand me there."? What would you say?
How can a parent continue to send their child to a place in which an adult has called their child a brat? or told their child repeatedly that they are not special?
I am frankly too sad, discouraged, and worn out to continue this list, which could go on at length. Even more sad is that my sweet J has only been attending this school since March. So, it should be the case that we haven't had enough time to amass this list, but unfortunately, that is not the case.
We went to a bit of an effort to show our commitment to the school. We met with the teacher. We emailed. They don't email back--why commit to anything in writing after all? We raised money for the school carnival. We went to the carnival and had a reasonably good time. We diligently supported the completion of countless worksheets that were returned with a sticker saying "Very good!" or "Excellent!" and nothing more. I'm not sure any of these efforts really had any effect.
In the meantime--and for those of you not in Minnesota, it is a school choice state, which means that there are numerous options for public school--we have learned of a dream school in a neighboring suburb. Well, the neighboring suburb is actually a 30 minute drive away, but that seems immaterial, all things considered. This dream school is for kids like J. They do fun things like calculate bracket stats during March Madness. They dissect owl pellets and sheep's brains in 3rd grade, and make star charts, and read cool books. They understand the emotional issues of bright kids. They don't really use worksheets, and there's very little homework. And best of all, J has been eagerly accepted into the program for next year.
Once upon a time, I thought that we could always provide additional stimulation for our intellectually curious kid. And we do. Recently, we've grown, and killed, a couple of caterpillars. Before their death, we learned a lot about them, though. We have also been learning about Beatrix Potter's life and times (I recommend the movie Miss Potter). We have been swimming and learning ping pong. We've also started a collection of state quarters. But all these things aren't really enough to overcome the torture of worksheets.
There's a documented condition called schooling resistance and to some degree we have experienced it in this house. I sometimes feel devastated to think that a child who was once so naturally curious about the world and who had so much faith in school has been so enormously let down.
But J is resilient, and a carefree summer has the potential to be healing. When Labor Day rolls around this fall, I think that school will start for real, for the first time.