Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Limit the negative impact of school!

You need to watch for and encourage your child's originality and not let the schools snuff it out.... What can parents do to limit the negative impact of school?... Three things:

  • Protect your child against the damage school does and intervene on his behalf.

  • Reassure your child that it's okay if she doesn't excel in school and that there is little relationship between the grades she receives and her intelligence and future career success.

  • Recognize that you and not the schools are in charge of your child's education.

  • From Coloring Outside the Lines: Raising a Smart Kid by Breaking All the Rules, by Roger Schank.

    This is EXACTLY what we've been working at all winter with, and for, Son1!! I borrowed this book from the library today; it looked sort of interesting. Well, YES.

    It's pretty sad when you find yourself telling your son that the main reasons he has to finish the (stupid, busywork) school assignments and turn them in on time is because his teacher needs the record of what he knows and because in life sometimes you have to do stuff even when it's fundamentally busywork. Pretty sad.

    Son1 is in fourth grade and turned 10 last December. His grades crashed and burned in late November, after the first quarter grading period, mostly because he suddenly started turning things in late or not at all. We're not sure if there's a social or other reason for this; despite our best efforts with him and his teacher and other parents, we can't figure out anything concrete. So we're focusing on responsibility and doing his best work.

    To help Son1 with this, all winter I've spent almost every after-school homework time sitting near him to encourage and support him in getting his schoolwork done and done reasonably well. There has never been an issue of whether he could do the work, or understood the topic. It's just about whether he turned things in (complete, on time, with answers to what was asked, and legible).

    With almost all assignments being completed and on time, his grades have returned to the general vicinity of typical Son1 grades. And he seems to have somewhat internalized the idea of doing his best work (writing legibly, answering what was asked rather than something else). At the same time, dear husband and I have stifled our ongoing reaction to the actual homework as being a load of busywork and what does it matter for our kiddo if he does this stuff?

    Son1 and I had quite a few talks about homeschooling in the quiet of bedtime. Boy howdy, I'd really like to homeschool this kid. I'm already spending about the same amount of time and at least half of the energy I'd use in homeschooling him! And He Would Like The Projects And Tasks!!! (Mostly.) I wouldn't be inventing stuff for an entire class, but rather coming up with stuff tailored for my kid, working with him to find an interesting, intriguing, challenging (not busywork) way to practice writing skills or gain real-world math experience. Sheesh.

    Funny thing is, we really like Son1's teacher. We just don't appreciate the whole school thing. And we know that we have a way out (homeschooling), if we ever decide to take it.

    By the way, Son2, who turned 6 last month, is reading now and loving it. He really wanted to learn to read this fall, and the phonics-based approach helped him get started. Now the homeschooling work will continue building a good foundation while he has a ball reading everything he can find!

    1 comment:

    The_Add_Knitter said...

    Good luck, I have had similar problems with my daughter, although it sounds like their issues are different. The school that she goes to is mediocre at best and every year for the past three years she has had a teacher with rage problems. At a certain point you feel that all you're doing is damage control, walking a fine line between teaching them to respect elders and knowing when to discount someone with bad behaviour. It's a struggle!!