Saturday, November 16, 2013

When Homework and School Start to Resemble a Double Shift

It's only six weeks into school and the first marking period is nearing its end.  Finally, an after school routine has been established, dropping the bags and jackets onto the floor and ripping off the socks and shoes in a race for a snack before school starts all over again.  I immediately stop my boys in their tracks before they head towards the "TV room."

This year, I split my boys up.  For years they attended the most reputable private school in town but this year, only one stayed.  We gave our younger son a try at our local public school, one of the best public school districts in the Lehigh Valley and, quite frankly, we couldn't be happier.  No hard feelings towards the private school but whatever happened to having a stress-free childhood?  I can remember running and playing after school, skinning my knees, doing a little homework, having supper, then heading back out with the gang to finish our game of tag, I declare war, or red light, green light 1,2,3.  When the street lights came on, we knew it was time to head home.  Where did those days go?  They have turned our children into human machines, stress not only for the child but affecting the entire family dynamic.  They have sports, music lessons, homework, tests and projects!!!!!!  HELP!  How do we fit it all in?  By the time these children get to college, they are burned out and desperately in need of an escape.  These escapes are sometimes legal and illegal drugs & alcohol and many students fall into a deep depression.  They are fried.  What we are witnessing on the news (school, movie theater shootings, etc.) predominantly college age students, it's a "pattern" of psychotic behavior, stemming from a cocktail of drugs, anxiety and deep depression.  These kids are blowing through schools with semi automatic weapons and then killing themselves.  They are not going down without making a statement.  Something has to change because what we are doing is simply not working.  My approach: give them back their childhood!

Since my younger son switched to public school, he's much happier.  They work hard all day in school and come home with one sheet of homework.  He's playing, building, creating, riding his bike with the gang, has time for music and time for sports.  Although still a lot, he gets in that healthy breathing space and is thoroughly excited to return to school the next day.  In fact, he can't wait.  He talks about tomorrow's classes, what's for lunch and the latest gossip.  There was no time for that before.  It was hours of homework, sports, music, hours of studying and bed.  Not a second went by without school work being done. I realized that each night, I sit in the bathroom drilling my sons on their spelling words while they are in the shower and in the car I nail them down to study for their other tests.  I'm lecturing them to begin their homework on the bus in the afternoon and to study on the bus in the morning.  What ever happened to downtime?  It's no wonder these kids are cracking.  We as parents need to recognize the trend.  It's our responsibility as parents, no?  We need to bring it to the attention of the schools.  In fact, I surveyed other parents of the private school children in my son's grade (not officially, just in conversation at various functions) and have found that I'm not alone.  What scares me is the fact that the parents haven't spoken up!  There is no communication between the schools and the parents' concerns.  An institution for education has locked out parents from being able to express their concerns, with the exception of the few conferences throughout the year.  Parents are afraid to speak up and end up just going with the flow.  Wake up people! These are our children and their futures are at stake!  Talk to the teachers and ensure your message is clear.  An email is always good because you can address it to the entire staff.  We need to take a stand now, before our children join the ranks of young adults that are simply falling apart.

Good Luck.

Jamie Gottschall
The NYClifestylist

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