From the Mommy Files…

“Mommy, Is My School Broken?”

Posted on: August 31, 2010

BooBoo is really anxious to get back to school.

My 3.5 year-old started preschool this past January and absolutely loved it.

In fact, you may recall, she had severe withdrawals after the end of the school year. She just didn’t understand why school had to stop.

We played school, which she enjoyed, but it wasn’t the same.

Besides Bebs, there weren’t other kids to interact with. Despite dance classes, camp and swim lessons, to her, it wasn’t the same. It couldn’t be. Those things happened only for a short period of time.

At home, there was no teacher other than Mom, no set schedule of activities throughout the day. Sometimes Boo had to sit through “baby stuff,” as some concepts were difficult to grasp for her nearly 18 month-old sister. But we had to do it together. Where would the little one go? I did my best to make things fun – and interactive – for both.

Boo has been asking for two months now, when could she go back to school. She doesn’t yet get the concept of a few months’ time. It seems like an eternity for her.

She’s been overjoyed anytime she can see kids from her class. She speaks very highly of her teacher. The preschool experience was a positive one – I’m grateful for that.

Last week, there was some report on the news about more kids going back to school.

Boo asked, “Mommy, is my school broken?”

Hmmm… I asked why she thought that.

“Because I have to wait to go back to school. Everyone else is in school except me!”

I guess it does seem that way – her cousins are all back to school. But the neighborhood kids aren’t in school yet either. They also start on September 7. Could be the reason for our school’s late start.

Does that seem really late to you? It does to me. Chicago Public Schools ended their school year on June 18. Our school ended on May 28. That makes the start date seem even later.

While I’ve tried my best to get Boo to practice her letters, numbers, colors, shapes, etc., there’s bound to be some forgotten subjects.

That’s a big reason why I think the school year should be longer – for all kids.

Now every kid in the neighborhood hates me for that statement. But I’m a parent. I have to look at the big picture.

Not to mention all the teachers who teach in difficult situations.

Kids get bored –I know I was: by mid-July I’d start asking my mom every day when school would start.

Sometimes they get into trouble.

But most of all, they forget things they learned.

I’ve spoken to friends that are teachers, and they dread the start of the school year.

One said, “We have to re-teach everything we did the last few months of school. Sometimes we end up reviewing the entire year, because kids don’t do anything over the summer. This wastes new learning time.”

Another said, “The first few months of the new school year is review. We lose vital time.”

Even US Education Secretary Arne Duncan was quoted, saying a long summer break was outdated. “Our school calendar is based upon the agrarian economy and not too many of our kids are working the fields today.” The same article indicated that “the most rigorous studies have shown that more ‘time on task’ raises test scores – whether by lengthening the school hour or the school year.”

I’ve heard many working parents also lament about the costs of summer programs – not just to keep the kids occupied and engaged, but to have a place for them while parents work – they’re out of control. They can’t afford it. So kids stay home, and well, you know.

Wouldn’t a longer school year make sense for everyone?

I know there are other things that play into this argument, but let’s put them aside for now and focus on the kids. It’s about them, isn’t it?

I know kids need unstructured time to play and explore – and some kids don’t have that because they are overscheduled all year long.

But then I think…

How will they compete in the world? Will they find jobs? Will they be able to get into college?

There’s got to be a balance.

But I digress.

“No, honey, your school isn’t broken. You just have a shorter school year. We’ll be back to school soon. One more week to go,” I tell my daughter.

OK,” she says, sounding defeated. “I love school. I just want to go to school. Why can’t I go to school? Something MUST be broken.”

Wise beyond her years.


1 Response to "“Mommy, Is My School Broken?”"

I agree! I have been telling my husband the same thing but he thinks I’m crazy. I do work with my kids over the summer but its not the same. I think they would appreciate the shorter breaks also.

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