Friday, September 4, 2009

Back to School Night

Last night, following a 10 1/2 hour workday during which I sat down only long enough to eat lunch, I attended the annual back to school night at the kids' school. I had just enough time to eat and shower before rushing off to the event. I was tired and grumpy and not really in the mood for information about Strive for Five and We are Kellar! and the Fall Fundraiser and How I Can Help and Joining Hands With My Neighbors and Singing the School Song. I'm kidding about the last one, but I was in a fairly foul mood before even leaving the gym to go to the kids' classrooms. They conveniently had two 15 minute sessions. I decided to visit Logan's classroom first because it is close to the gym and I didn't have to climb any stairs.

I walked into his room and found his desk. I then found out I had to go to the library where all four 1st grade teachers gave a perky joint presentation on how 1st grade would be run this year. I found out that Logan will have homework Monday through Thursday nights. This is in addition to nightly reading aloud that I will have to record in his homework folder. None of the four teachers could contain herself to her allotted time so the first session ran over by five minutes and I had to book it up to Kaylin's room. Kaylin's teacher has an EXTENSIVE behavior program that involves "cash" deposits and withdrawals in a checking and savings account. Kaylin will also have nightly homework and will need her student planner signed nightly. Logan needs money for Weekly Reader and Kaylin needs money for Time Kids. I got a large packet of parent information from both teachers and my head exploded. I was told by five different teachers how I need to drill and hover and be involved in every moment of my child's homework life. No. Absolutely not. I take my kids to educational places and read to them and teach them all kinds of things. Their homework is theirs. I already did it.

I hate school. I hate homework. But most of all, I hate forced parental involvement in school. Why is my kid's effort grade dependant on whether or not I sign their folder/planner? This is ridiculous! Logan will come home and immediately sit and finish his homework, clean out his folder, make sure we sign it and put it back into his backpack. He also gets up early on his own and gets completely dressed to his shoes and gets his own breakfast and is ready long before we have to walk out the door. That is how Logan is. Kaylin, on the other hand, has to be nagged to do Every. Little. Thing. Every. Single. Day. There is no improvement. Ever. She is punished when she forgets to bring her homework or planner. We are consistent. We make lists of things she needs to accomplish before (whatever.) None of it works. She is still a dinglebrain and needs to be reminded to put on her pants. And her socks. And her shoes. And to go get her backpack when we're pulling out of the driveway. The one I set next to the door and reminded her twice to grab. Every day. That is how Kaylin is. And then she leaves the door to the house hanging open and has to be told to go close it.

Logan can handle homework because he is all about The System and Playing by the Rules. Kaylin wants to do other things. She needs every minute of unstructured time away from school to play imagination games and draw and make up stories. She loves to read and spends a lot of time with science and non-fiction books about the way things work. She wants to run and play outside and boss the neighbor kids. Homework is completely useless to her. It's nearly impossible for me to force her to waste her valuable free time doing boring things like writing spelling words five times apiece or infuriating her teachers by writing vocabulary sentences that don't CONFORM to the NORMAL sentences expected of her.

Kaylin learns so much more on her own doing her own thing than she could ever learn from boring, repetetive homework. I completely refuse to squash Kaylin's creativity by nagging and drilling and forcing her to spend huge amounts of time on things she hates. I used to think homeschoolers were nutjobs. I now wish I had the patience and organizational skills to pull my kids out of school and teach them at home!

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