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Why am I in grade school again?

Submitted by on Monday, 24 August 2009 One Comment

It’s a statement as obvious – at least, it is to anyone whose kid has been in kindergarten for more than a few days – as it is unfair: “To help the kid do better (in school), Mom and Dad have to work, also,” the U.S. Health Department news release said.

I want to lodge an official protest.

I finished first grade in 19 … a long time ago. I know the alphabet reasonably well and can do enough math to balance a checkbook should I eventually decide to try.

I have no desire to go through first grade again. This is supposed to be my sit-on-my-butt time, when I get to chill in front of the soaps while casually asking if homework is finished. The guys will, of course, nod yes, and I’ll send them along whether they’re telling the truth or not.

The only time I recall my parents getting involved in homework was when one of us was in kindergarten and struggling to learn the alphabet – these days kids are behind if they don’t know it by age 2.

Problem was, kindergarten teachers back then taught the alphabet the same way preschool teachers teach it today – with the song. That notion mortally offended my stepdad.

“Don’t sing it. Say the alphabet. I don’t want to hear a goddamn song.”

I think I speak on behalf of all three of us when I say the future parental non-involvement was just fine.

And at the risk of sounding like a fuddy-duddy, I’ll also say that we all turned out OK. One of us has a master’s degree. Another is an occasionally quasi-successful professional writer. The third is a truck driver, and he makes more than the rest of us combined. So much for the value of education.

Ay, but that was a different day, before No Child Left Behind. Except I can’t blame all of it on No Child Left Behind. Part of it’s due to changes desperately needed in the education system. Changes that now have parents spending almost as much time teaching as teachers do.

Just look at this list of tips, courtesy of the U.S. Education Department, for helping  your child succeed in school:

  • Encourage your child to read.
  • Talk with your child.
  • Monitor homework.
  • Monitor TV viewing and video game playing.
  • Encourage your child to use the library.
  • Help your child learn to use the Internet safely and effectively.
  • Encourage your child to be responsible and to work independently.
  • Encourage active listening. Listen to your child’s ideas and respond.

I guess I’ll have to TIVO the soaps. That’s a pretty long list.

It’s also a list that’s pretty palatable, except for the monitoring homework part. The mere mention of the word is enough to sent Big Guy into a rapid lather, in part because he’s a contrarian and in part because last year’s load was heavy. It seems more reasonable so far this year, and I’m hoping it stays around 15 minutes.

Most of the things on the list I was doing even before I started working at home and had the advantage of being able to fit my schedule around school. I’m lucky that much of it – talking, for example – comes pretty easily for me.

I’m sure the math will be a struggle later – it was a stretch I couldn’t quite make to¬† help a sixth-grader with her math last year. I’m hoping I’ll do better if I relearn it year by year.

Hmm … Maybe I do need to start over in first grade. The TIVO definitely will have to wait.

Copyright Debra Legg 2009. All rights reserved.

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One Comment »

  • Rosalinda Vargas said:

    I like what you said. I taught 28 years. I could tell when a child had extra help at home. Hang in there!