January 11, 2011

I Thought This Was Supposed to Get Easier

Newborns are tough: night wake ups, lots of feedings, lots of diapers, and lots of noise. Toddlers aren't far behind with their new mobility and lively needs and wants. Preschoolers engage you in the "activity parade" with everything from tumble gym to finger paint. By the time children are school age, things are supposed to settle down, right?

School age children require schooling, and most decisions about a child's schooling are made by parents. As I stand here in the middle of the 2010/2011 California public school experience of 30-kids-to-a-classroom, I wonder if I'd rather be changing diapers for a living.

2nd Grade
We attend our local neighborhood school. I enjoy the sense of community and diversity, and overall dedication from the teaching staff. Kindergarten and first grade started with a 20-ish-kid-to-a-class teacher to student ratio, which turned out really well. But this year, there is something about the extra 8 kids that is turning the classroom into a challenge. In a single second grade class, we have students who are struggling to read individual words. In that same class, we have students debating whether JK Rowling will ever come out with a "Number 8". The spectrum of individual needs is so diverse that I puzzle over seemingly impossible classroom management.

What's difficult are the decisions that need to be made on a regular basis about maintaining a positive educational framework for our children. It used to be that you just sent kids off to school (on a chauffeured bus, no less!). Now, decisions are required about which school (if any), how much to supplement the curriculum, and how many volunteer hours to commit. Schooling, like parenting, is expanding in scope. When we spend time worrying about being good enough parents by needing to make all the right school decisions, we're stressed!

I'd like to reclaim these easygoing school years, somehow. My kids thrive most when I'm relaxed and enjoying their company. I need to make a conscious choice to worry less about pending educational hurdles, and spend more time just being a part of their lives. That is, until Little Miss Reindeer enters second grade.


Debi said...

For what it's worth, I'm coping with the same exact issue myself at the moment. If you find a great solution, do you promise to share?! :)

Tiffany T said...

I remember talking to you about this, and I felt the same impotence.

I see why people are trying to create their own school framework in the hopes to tackle these problems, but I don't see that working either. It just seems to create different problems.

When you get this all figured out, could you let me know? :)

Love the pictures of the girls, by the way.

Lorraine Akemann said...

Hi Debi & Tiffany, good to hear from you. Yes, I will follow up with insights if any come my way. For now, I think that as the kids get older, they will tell us what they need. My role is to support them, but not to burden the family with unfounded concerns. I think bottom line is that the classroom affords an opportunity for kids to enjoy learning. If so, things aren't so bad. If not, that's when you need to dig deeper. One thing you can be sure, next week my opinion will change! Ha!

Carolina said...

hey, I'm a teacher and a mom and I deal with all the same concerns when it comes to my son's education. I think it's important to be involved, listen to your kids, and trust your instincts. That said, it's easy to go overboard with concerns (guilty as charged). It may be bullies, educational rigor, overcrowding, but there is always something to be concerned about. The thing is, that stuff has been around since we were kids going to school.

Lynette said...

No matter what, your girls are very fortunate to have you as a strong advocate at their sides through all of it. Hope you can find some solutions for the situation.