Friday, March 09, 2007

ruh-roh. An education rant.

When people ask me why I homeschool, my answer is to the point, all-encompassing, and only a single word.


Honestly, that is my reason. It was only reinforced this week when our legislators who are trying to salvage our pitiful school district from state takeover and get it accredited again after over 7 years, suggested their proposal. The major talking point that the rest of the plan revolves around? more time in school. First, they are proposing to increase the school day by 90 minutes and increasing the school year by 30 days and secondly requiring all 5 years olds to be in all day kindergarten, and 3 and 4 year olds to be in all day Head Start programs.

In 2003 assessments, 5.1% (did you read that?! 5.1%) of the 11th graders in our school district were proficient in language arts. The legislators and educators reasoning is that if they just had more time with the kids they could get the scores up.

Now, my mother is an educator. Has been for 25+ years. I respect the work of teachers. I feel sorry for teachers. I think teachers get hung out to dry. I'm amazed at what teachers get done inspite of the school system. So, believe me, I am not blaming teachers. But, if you can't teach my child to read in 12 years, what makes you think you can teach him/her in 15 years?! There is no logic here for me. It's not the length of the day or the length of the year or the length of years in school. It's what is going on during that time! It's the whole system that needs re-working. Having my child spend more time in a broken system is not going to fix anything.

When my son was in 2nd grade his lunchtime/recess was 45 minutes. That's it. That was their break for the day. Now, in my state, employment law requires a 1 hour lunch break for a 7 hour day. We think the grow-ups need this break, but not the kids?! They had P.E. two days a week. You can talk all you want about TV being the demise of our active children but I put the blame on lack of recess. When I was in 2nd grade, we had a 30 minute morning recess and a 1 hour lunch break. I somehow, managed to learn to read.

My friend's son is in one of the wealthiest school districts in our region. He's in kindergarten. He's in full-day. He has 45 minutes of homework every night. 45 minutes of homework. in kindergarten. When are these children playing? When do they get to just do their own thing? I think we are really shooting ourselves in the foot as a nation, when we take away time that develops imagination, creativity, and just plain fun. How will this help build a nation that seeks new ways and inspires new thinking and new technology? I watched my own son get stressed to the limit trying to maintain himself in a traditional classroom. He ended up on three different medications. A recess or two and some free time would have done him a world of good. Now, he hasn't been on a single one of those drugs and he is so much more relaxed and so much more fun!

It just makes me so sad to see how much we take away from our children under the guise of trying to get them ahead.

end rant.


Jenni said...

THIRTY MORE DAYS!!!! *****clunk****

That's the sound of my head hitting the desk as I slide to the floor in a dead faint.

Recess. Absolutely.

Melanie said...

"It's what is going on during that time! It's the whole system that needs re-working. Having my child spend more time in a broken system is not going to fix anything."

ITA! My kids are in our church's elementary school and thankfully they are thriving.

Personally I don't think a 5YO needs to be in school all day, and I think that children younger than 4 do not need to be in school at all. JMHO

lesleysmeshly said...

I agree with every single point that you made. My husband and I have discussed home schooling, but I have no clue how it works or anything. Do you get curriculum from somewhere? How do you kids do with you as their teacher?
The one thing I am worried about is their lack of socializing. I am a home body and if we homeschooled how would they make new friends, etc?
Great post as usual!!


Cakes said...

ohhhh Lesley....
asking a homeschooler about homeschooling is like asking a junkie if she wants a fix!

will definitely get back to you.

...must go assemble my pile of resources.
just kidding.
no, I'm not.
well, kind of.

julie said...

totally agree with everything you just said.

Rae Pica said...

Yes, yes, yes; kids need recess! As a children's physical activity specialist, I am constantly addressing this issue! To learn some of the many reasons why, visit the websites of the International Play Association ( and Rescuing Recess (!

Cakes said...

Yay! A whole international organization dedicated to PLAY?!?! How cool is that!

I'm glad Tertia sent you by!

Sally said...

I totally agree.

Check out page 20-ish of this document for preschool education principles for the UK.

Sherry said...

I think about this all the time as my girls approach school age. In Finland they do not start mandatory schooling until the age of 6 which goes until 15. 9 years. Every child receives a hot lunch and they have +90% !!completion rate. AND they consistanly have top performance in the world for standardized tests.

But what are they doing? Can I duplicate that at home? Or augment that in a traditional school?