Friday, January 8, 2010

School Rules

Vivi goes to a small neighborhood cooperative nursery school a couple of mornings a week. It is a very laid back environment with two caring teachers. Not surprisingly, Vivi loves it there and we are pleased with its emphasis on play. All in all, it has been a nice transition to "school" for all of us.

Last night, at the parents' meeting for the co-op, some people were talking about their experiences with local kindergartens. Vivi still has another year before we sign her up but given the notoriously bad reputation of the Providence public schools, I was curious to hear about our options. When I picked up a flyer from a celebrated local charter school, however, I was shocked to read the following:

"...over the coming years, more and more time will be devoted to science and mathematics. Students applying to the ...school need to keep this in mind because we require 2-3 hours of homework each night by the time our students reach middle school."

I believe the words "you have to be shitting me" came out of my mouth. Haven't there been enough studies to show that excessive homework does more harm than good? Why do we think that if we keep drilling information into our childrens' heads that they will somehow be smarter? It seems to me that when a child is given this amount of homework, the family life becomes tethered to what is happening at school. I love my daughters but I don't want our time in the evenings to be about making sure they get their piles of homework done.

Sadly, this seems to be what's happening in our local schools and I'm not sure I'm comfortable with it. I'd prefer not to homeschool Vivi but I also don't want her to be in an environment that doesn't represent our family culture and values. I'm trying to be optimistic that we'll find something that will be a good fit (and won't cost us anything) but I also won't be heartbroken if it doesn't work out. After all, I've befriended more than a few Mama Mama Quite Contraries around here and we've talked about starting our own informal co-op for the kindergarten set. Then, of course, it would be me who would have all the homework.

4 comments:

  1. Really?! Oh boy... homeschooling... agrgha.
    i would love to hear you talk more about that idea for viv...

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  2. Could you imagine sitting with your boys every night for two or three hours while they do homework? Doesn't homeschooling sound easier? :-)

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  3. Yeeps! As an ex-teacher I get the value of a LITTLE homework, especially if its interesting/fun, but that sounds pretty insane!

    I have had my head in the sand about school (we still have another year of preschool as well) but my plan is to try our local public school and hope for the best. If it came to a point where homework was taking over family time, or school was just not working for whatever reason, I'd definitely consider homeschooling (or some other kind of alternative schooling)....

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  4. I'm planning on homeschooling my boys for many reasons but if you can homeschool your girls, go for it! It doesn't have to be formal...you can even go the unschooling route. I like Oak Meadow's curriculum which you can use as a guide. Not much homework from my end...only the registration with the state part. ;)

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