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Friday, March 13, 2009

Homework Sucks

This is the face that greets me over homework every evening. I love his school, don't get me wrong, but at this point in the year, I'm ready to tell all the teachers to shove it.

When it comes to homework, being a parent requires striking a tenuous balance between helping and doing it for them. I absolutely refuse to do it for him, so sometimes, this means sitting back while imperfections slide on by. Young One is a great student. He's been in high performance classes the whole time he's been at this elementary school. He's been challenged, but not frustrated with the challenges. He's been taught with the love and caring that comes from truly dedicated educators.

We moved to this community because of the school district, but we moved to this specific neighborhood because of the specific elementary, middle, and high schools that Young One would attend. They're the best of the district. Routinely score in the upper 90th percentile nationwide. They hire the cream of the crop. His elementary school applied for grant money many years ago to cover the cost of additional conferences at the beginning of the year. These conferences happen well before the teachers have gotten to know the kids. It's our chance, as parents, to tell them everything we know about our children. It's a great way to start off the year and I'm not aware of any other schools that do this. (If you don't, push your PTA to raise the money to cover the cost of the substitute teachers for those conferences! It's a great way to communicate with a teacher and start to help him/her get to know your kid.)

I'm often surprised at how many people move into a community knowing nothing about the schools. If you have kids, how could you not? I mean, just because the picket fences all gleam with fresh paint, the houses are gorgeous, and the Stepford Wives all march in rows, doesn't mean the schools are good. Cross over the border into other districts close to mine and you find mismanagement, no high performance classes, and impoverished budgets. Someone once told me that many teachers in these other districts don't even have education degrees. I can't imagine.

We're heading into Spring Break next week, which is so great. I can't imagine a year without these breathers. In my opinion, kids learn the best when they have long stretches of time to just explore on their own. For this very reason alone, I would never put my kid in year round school and would fight it tooth and nail if our district ever considered it. A community close to my hometown tried year round school and it didn't work. The sports kids still had to practice and compete during their off weeks and they found a year without summer break created stressed out kids. Their discipline problems skyrocketed and the district soon reverted back to a traditional school year. The energy savings that the district was supposed to have didn't pan out as they expected (This was the given reason for year round school. Supposedly, not heating the building during their winter break weeks was supposed to save them tons of money. It didn't.)

After Spring Break, we usually start our countdown to the big summer break. Young One is SO excited about middle school. Right now, he and his friends are too cool for the "babyish" stuff of elementary school. It's a fun time for me, sitting back and watching this awkward age. Summer will be filled with long stretches of days that blur together. Playdates stretch into sleep overs. There is that inability as a kid to see the end of such a long season, so it spans out into infinity. What bliss! I watch my tightly wound kid slowly unwind and just play to his heart's content.

Can't wait!

But, for now, it's away with the homework and on to some Spring Break Fun. We have some and no plans. We just want to sleep in and see what the days bring. Supposedly we're doing to have really warm weather here in the Tundra. So, it will be a good time to take some day trips.

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