School – Stop sucking the time and life out of my kid!

Due to recent events in our family life, I have begun to ask questions about school and what our kids are gaining from the current systems used to educate our youth.  As we strive to live an intentional life, I have been committed to being aware and more productive in how I handle situations that bother me.  A situation that has arisen with my oldest daughter’s schooling as a freshman in high school has been a great test for me.

I’ve decided to write about my experiences and discoveries as I seek answers and options for best educating our youth.  Here is my first post on this subject.

Do schools care to support family life?

What is to be gained by assigning so much homework each night to students?

I do not have a definite answer to these questions, but I do know this . . . I do not like the fact that I cannot plan something for my family to do without first making sure it won’t interfere with school expectations placed on my kids outside of school time.

So, let’s break it down.  How does homework prepare kids for the future?

Since our school has yet to answer this question, I am going to assume that the standard answer is something like this . . . so that students can learn time management skills, self study skills, have additional time to study concepts that need attention, to prepare for assessments, and for college preparation.  And I agree, it could help in all these areas if administered properly in the right doses.

But instead, the situation we (and other parents) are currently facing looks like this.
  • Time Management – There is nothing to manage!  Homework takes up nights and weekends, there is nothing else.  Homework is a time sucker, overworking our kids and creating an imbalance between school/home life.  Not exactly what I want my kids to learn as a recovering workaholic!
  • Self Study – Is homework required nearly every night for years on end to learn the habits of self study?  Seriously!
  • Time for Attention Needed Concepts – Does homework for homework sake help students improve on their deficiencies?  No!  They need homework to be specific to where they need extra attention.
  • Assessments – I have yet to find a study that can prove that there is a direct correlation between hours of study and test scores.  Why?  Because we are human and we burn out.  Studying is like a bell curve and the curve is different for each person.  Study too little, you aren’t prepared.  Study too much, fry your brain and render it ineffective.  Study just the right amount of time and bingo, you’ve met your potential.  There are plenty of other factors that show correlation, like REST.  Fancy that!
  • College Prep – Teaching values and character is the best way to prepare for life in general.  If you are prepared for life, then you are prepared for whatever you wish to do, whether or not college is included in that plan.  But, guess what!  Life lessons that prepare us for life are taught in and out of school.  And last I checked, schools were not in the business of teaching everything we need to know to be successful in life.  Like following our passion, self awareness, humility, service, determination, acceptance, gratitude, positivity, giving, living with intention and so on.  Therefore, parents need to put just as much time and energy in to preparing our kids for life.  And you know what else!  That takes time.  Precious time that we need to develop, challenge, and grow our own children.  Which makes me to want to scream and shout “Stop sucking the time and life out of my kid!”

If you follow my blog, you know I write about creating an intentional life.  And of course, I want to live a positive life as well.  So, you may be wondering how this post fits in with my quest for a life of intention?

I get to decide my life.  Where I live, who I live with, how I live, who my friends are, etc.  Things that may affect my life that I do not have control over are things like who my relatives are, physical attributes I was born with, and the laws that govern me.  However, I do have the power of influence, the right to vote, and most importantly, the ability to choose how I react to whatever life dishes me that I can not personally control.

The homework expectations of our school district is having a tremendous affect on my family’s life right now.  That affect has created a significant number of negative consequences, such as lack of sleep, low self esteem, and a life consumed with school work.  At this point, if she stays at her school, she will be forced to either give up the school sport she loves so much or give up an elective so that she can take a study support class.  Her grades are strong, she’s just killing herself to keep them.  She doesn’t want to give up either and frankly, her father and I don’t think she should have to be put in that situation.

What to do?  I have been voicing my concerns with the school.  I feel like I am chasing my tail.  I feel as though they don’t really hear me, don’t want to acknowledge the negative effect that their expectations have, and/or simply don’t care.

So, what now?  We can either live as we are, letting school work control our lives, enroll our daughter in the neighboring school district, or even home school her.  Each carries pros and cons that have to be weighed. But, whatever we choose, it’s because . . .         we have the power to choose how we want to live.

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    “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

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