Did you read the September 11th issue of Newsweek? The cover reads "THE NEW FIRST GRADE Are Kids Getting Pushed Too Fast, Too Soon?"
Any parent with children in school should read this article.
Holly Hultgren, Principal at Lafayette Elementary school says:
"I worry that we are creating school environments that are less friendly to kids who just aren't ready...Around third grade, sometimes even the most precocious kids begin to burn out."
After reading the article, I was surprised at how many things in this article were specific to our Way Down In Mayberry school. Some of the concerns included parents waiting until their children were six to put them in Kindergarten because the school program is so advanced. Other issues were daily timed testing of math and reading as well as decreased recess, P.E. and music time.
My biggest problem with the school is their idea that everyone in the class should know exactly how their classmates size up on say for instance, math. This presents itself in what the teacher calls a "party". It goes something like this.....
The teacher says that the class is going to work towards the math goal of X. This party may be something like a "fruit kabob party". At each level of math that you can get signed off on, you receive a fruit for the party. If let's say Suzie get her multiplication tables completed then she may get an apple for her 4x tables or a pineapple for her 6x tables. The higher you get on your multiplication, the better things you get for your kabob.....maybe marshmallows or chocolate. On the board in your class is everyone's name and a picture of all of the different fruits/candies that can go on your kabob. As you complete your multiplication, you get to put your cut-outs of the fruits on the board.
Imagine walking in to a classroom and seeing some children with one or two fruit cut-outs next to their name while others have a plethora of fruits and candies next to their name. Everyone in the class knows EXACTLY how smart or not-so-smart you are at multiplication. As the "fruit kabob party" approaches, of course you can imagine the stress that some kids can feel.
Now I have had the displeasure of attending a "fruit kabob party". Some kids only have a few apples and bananas on their kabobs. Other kids are smacking away at chocolate and marshmallows loaded with pineapple and oranges.
How degrading is that? Is it just me? What are we teaching our children?
I have talked with the teacher about this. She sees nothing wrong with it and says that this has been a proven method of teaching . Now my son has her this year. How will he feel if he doesn't succeed on his timetables? How will he feel towards the other children if he does very well?
As other parents are spending every last dime of their paychecks on a mortgage to get in to an attendance area of one of the highest performing schools in the Northwest, I am thinking about how to get out. With a waiting list of 600+ to get into the school, you would think that I've gone bat-shit-crazy on wanting to pull my kids out. Maybe I have.
What do you think?