I have something to say about being a mom of a child who attends school. In truth, it could be applied to any of my children and probably yours, too. When I think about what I’ve had to do in order to be considered a “good mom” for my children’s schools (and, let’s face it, for the other parents) I get a little weary and wonder why there’s so much pressure. Education, in my view, hasn’t changed as fast as it needs to in some areas. That’s me speaking as an industry professional. However, speaking as a mom? There are 5 things I’m willing to stop doing right this moment that I think parents get pressured into doing. Parents unite!
1. Stop Spending Money on Projects
When my oldest son was in 4th grade they were required to make a game. I know, super vague directions, right? Well, the direction sheet that came home said that it had to be a board game because his teacher was sure that kids weren’t playing enough board games. Don’t get me started on what possible skill this was addressing. Crafts? Is there a craft skill? NO, THERE IS NOT. I LOOKED IT UP. Anyway, he came home talking about what his friends were going to do and he wanted to do something like a Monopoly board so we went out and bought $85 worth of materials so that I could stay up late using a glue gun and cutting out cards. Waste of money. I want to stop paying to stuff like that for student projects.
2. Projects That I Have to Help With Because Some Teacher Assumes We Don’t Spend Time Together
Look, if I wanted to do craft stuff then I would scrapbook. But since I don’t, I really wish my kids’ teachers would stop assigning huge crafty projects that make me want to violate a bottle of glitter in a murderous way. One time, when I asked my daughter’s teacher about it she said, “I think it’s good for parents to spend time with their kids.” There are so many things wrong with that but mostly, I don’t need school assignments to spend time with my kids. Most of their youth was playing games like Is Mommy Pooping? Because I Want to Sit On Her Lap and Let’s Kill Mom With Legos Left On the Floor. Seriously, teachers. We are spending time together and I don’t want to do your stupid assigned craft projects unless it’s in a mental institution and someone is bringing me really good drugs. Then, craft time is totally necessary.
3. Book Reports
It boggles the mind to know that book reports are still being assigned in classrooms. My friend, Terri, told me that her young 3rd grade daughter was required to write a report and turn it in after reading it in front of the class. First of all, that’s terribly archaic as an assignment. These kids live in the digital age. Mr. Teacher Man couldn’t have assigned some awesome interactive book review with videos and apps? There are way better ideas about making kids read books and then proving they read books. I swear, when Terri showed it to me it looked like something I could have written when I was in 3rd grade. MANY YEARS AGO. Get with the times, man. It’s not like kids are riding their horses to school anymore.
4. Studying for State Exams
My friend Chris told me that, in Texas, her son’s grade for doing the practice test is 45% of his grade. FORTY. FIVE. PERCENT. Um, Texas? I don’t think “practice” means what you think it means. When I practiced piano it was so I could get better at it, not have it shoved in my face that I still wasn’t mastering skills. When my daughter was in elementary school she brought home little plastic baggies filled with possible state exam questions that they wanted us to practice with her so she could get, well, a good test score on one test. We threw it out and went for a bike ride instead. My kids need to know skills and find their passions, not work hard all day and all night to get one good test score.
If I added up all the ingredients I’ve used over the years to make cupcakes and treats I’m sure that half the sugar in the world was in my kitchen at one point. As my youngest entered kindergarten, I got a handout telling me that I would be required to make treats 5 times that year. FIVE. TIMES. It infuriated me further to know that this form was given to all the moms, not the dads. When I listened to the other moms discussing it, they complained about it along with me until I realized they were competing to see who could bring in the most extravagant delicacies. That’s when I decided, “I’m out.” and didn’t feel the need to participate in weird school games.
School room Photo credit to Matthew Paulson
Cupcake Photo credit to Cupcake Sisters
Read more from Kelly at her personal blog, Mocha Momma, where she writes about being a mom, an educator, and a Girl Champion. You should know that her last child is a senior in high school so she’s done with most of this stuff anyway.
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