Occupy Recess

Speaking of time I want back…  I am spending a lot of time and thought on being pissed at changes at my daughter’s school.

Has this happened to you?  Where the energy you give your child’s school far outweighs other aspects of your life like, work, sex, relationships with friends, eating.  I’m a gung ho volunteer, public school kind of gal so I’m use to it being a part time job.  But, now I’m a disgruntled ‘worker’.

Whatever you do, kid. Don't play!

They aren’t laying the kids on medieval racks and dangling hot pokers, yet many of us are dismayed.   TA’s have been cut, snack recess has been cut.  There are other things, but these two have been the gunk between my teeth.  In general I fear these changes play into a disturbing trend in American education: Let’s get our kids primed to compete with the Chinese because we are all scared middle aged people who see our diminishing dollar.  Now, the second part is true.  But, guess what, have you been buying from Target and discount shops for the last 20 years?  Excited about how that dress only cost you $15?  IT’S TOO LATE.   They already own us.   About the only thing we have left that they can’t do cheaper is our sassy creative culture. (video on DC schools cutting recess here)


Am I concerned that Rex can’t spell his name?  Yes, sometimes I want to scream “The ‘X” goes last!”.  Then I breathe and remember that he is still 4 and that there is a huge leap developmentally that will occur in the next couple of years.  Do I wish I had gone to law school?  Yes, sure.  Do I smile every time Vivien says “I want to be a scientist”  instead of “I want to study improv” like I did.  Sure, of course.  But, a kindergartener should not be instructed like a 7th grader.  At all levels they need to be creative brains.  Here was a story I heard today about play is less than 30 minutes of a Kindergarteners day. 

When we had building blocks and dismissal at noon did the Russians invade Culver City?  No.  No, they didn’t. Our adult anxiety shouldn’t be put on the 5 year olds today.  I am very concerned about sending Rex to Kindergarten and there is a lot written now about how little boys really get shafted in this college prep ethos.  It’s painful for them to sit, sit, sit. Read the full article HERE, but this excerpt says it…

According to Whitmire, children are forced to use literacy skills much earlier than in the past, and boys develop these skills later than girls. In the world of “Kindergarten is the new first grade,” boys are struggling mightily to keep up. When it comes to writing, the gender divide is even greater. NCLB and our hyper-focus on standardized test scores is worsening, not ameliorating, the academic struggles of boys, and subsequently increasing the numbers of boys who turn off to school and eventually drop out.

According to Gurian, boys learn by doing and by moving their bodies through space. The more emphasis is placed on the development of early reading skills, and the less emphasis is placed on a healthy amount of movement and experiential learning, the more disadvantageous our schools will be for males.

Will the pendulum swing back from the sit still, early academic rigor to the progressive education I would like?  Hopefully, but doubtful by the time Rex enters Kindergarten in the Fall of ’14.  I don’t know what I’m going to do.  More thinking…


School Search

When I first started thinking about where to send Vivien to elementary school I would talk to other parents about what they were thinking. I often said, “Hey, I’m not going to stress; I know it’s all going to be fine where ever we send her.” That was the point in the conversation where the other parent was suppose to say, “Right, totally.” Or nod. Or do something other than what they did do which was looked appalled that I wasn’t freaking out about this issue.

What’s the matter here? I thought. Well, the pod people eventually got me.  Yes, I have lost sleep over this issue.. just a little

School Daze

So, I’ve started visiting schools for Vivien for kindergarten next year. I’m only looking at public schools. Even pre-Madoff we were always go to go public for elementary. I don’t know why… guess we love rusty water fountains, or maybe paying $25,000 for kindergarten seemed a little outlandish even when we could have. And in LA one needs to save the pennies for high school. The school in our area is considered good, but in LA there are also magnets, charters, open enrollments. Basically, through a ton of parental involvement, some crappy schools have become good ones, and there is more choice than years ago.

Okay, so question: am I only the only one who gets kind of sad and or anxious when looking at schools? I think it’s twofold for me. 1) I start worrying about making the bell as if I was the little kid again. And 2) I am seeing some good schools, and while I’m excited for Vivien, I’m sad for what I didn’t have. My schooling was a tad chaotic. I went to a few, and I think there was less structure and fostering of various talents than there could have been.

Was that diplomatic enough?

I also had a yucky time in 1st grade, which, kid you not, bothers me to this day. I also feel like a bit of dumb dumb sometimes because of holes in my education. And there is nothing like having kids to point this out. After 5th grade when I offered Oliver help with his homework, he began to respond with what I can only describe as a smirk.

“No, that’s okay” when he really thought, “From you?  Are you kidding?”

And my handwriting does look like that of a serial killer. I left traditional school after 2nd grade. At that point we had learned cursive for the first half of the alphabet. I went on to go through Lord of the Flies academy after that, so I never properly learned the other half. There are other gaps as well. On the good side, I did gain a lot of sass, which is pretty much what I have run on since.

It’s something I didn’t think about when becoming a parent, how putting my kids in school would make me wish I could have an education Mulligan (for the golfers out there).  But of course I can’t do it over and only hope I chose correctly for my kids.

Uh, we really have to be there by 8:05?