Friday, February 13, 2009

Kindergarten Future: The Things I'm Dreading

I am very excited for my kids to start school. But the blogosphere is ablaze with a very specific nightmare that I await with a certain type of dread usually reserved for the gynecologist or oral surgeon.

Homework. Not mine, the kids'.

I am a slacker mom. I totally admit it. That's why I suck at being a stay at home parent. Oh yeah.. I found a certain groove with it. But it was mostly about getting through the day so I could rest. I'd take the kids out to do fun stuff, and we did have fun. But my ulterior motive was ALWAYS to exhaust them so that they would sleep.

So I am DREADING the new emphasis placed on homework for young children. I think cognitively most kids below fourth grade do not have the organizational skills to navigate multiple assignments, flashcards, reading, math problems, science experiments, building scale models of the Taj Mahal entirely out of marshmallows --or whatever they're teaching in school these days.

I've been through grade school. It was a long, dark painful period in my life that I look back on and can't believe I went through that hateful, spiteful environment that was public school in the 70's and didn't end up a raging psychopath. But I didn't really have to do homework until the 4th grade.

I was not raised by helicopter parents. If I messed up in school, it was my problem. My husband was in pretty much the same situation. I slacked in High School? Boo freaking hoo... My parents instilled enough pride in me that I cared about my grades. They did not need to monitor my every move to make sure I was doing my assignments. I just did them.

But today we're expected to hover over our kids and make sure they do their homework and that it gets into the backpack in the morning. And why do they pile the homework on to first graders? Because there is a completely unproven theory that it will set up better habits when it matters in junior high and high school. Yeah.. show me the study! Our kids are missing their childhood afternoons for an unproven theory. Yaay!

And if they don't get it done, it's our problem, not just theirs.

The media loves to mock helicopter parents mercilessly. But I think we're being set up. I have no desire to Children are being required use organizational skills that developmentally aren't generally available to them. I'm not talking about the work level. I'm sure it's just reinforcing whatever they're learning in school. But six and seven year olds just don't have the skills to organize a bunch of homework projects without a lot of help. So what other choice will we have but to hover?

I'm just dreading it.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Dreams Coming True

Things are changing in my house. It's like these great big kids swooped in and ate our little babies and replaced them. But I can't say I miss that phase of life. I love having bigger kids. They play together and genuinely enjoy each others company. It's just so much easier when you don't have to supervise every second of their time.

But the most exciting part is reading chapter books to Eric. We just finished reading The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and he loved it. I thought he wasn't that into it, because we didn't read it for a few nights. Then as I was drying him off after his bath on Thursday he asked, "Let's find out what happened to Edmund?"


Tonight we finished the second to last chapter and I tried to put him to bed and he said "Please can we read a little more?" So, we finished it.

Now, I'm just composing lists in my head of stuff we should read. Rich read him A Christmas Carol and Legend of Sleepy Hollow when he was 4 and he seemed to get them so I think we have a lot of options.

But each book takes at least a couple of weeks, so I need to choose wisely. I want to read him Harry Potter and The Graveyard Book and everything by Roald Dahl (did you know he was a real spy during WWII?) and the Wizard of Oz, The Phantom Tollbooth, A Wrinkle in Time, My Side of the Mountain and The Great Brain...

There's only so much time before he'll want to read on his own... I must choose wisely.