My kids only have a few days of school left before summer vacation starts. Ty, who is 11, is so ready for his 5th grade year to come to a close. He has had enough of End-of-Grade testing, Homework assignments, Science Projects and the like. Maia, who is 7, is so sad to leave her favorite 1st grade teacher behind and has been moaning about missing her friends for a week now. I remember just a few short years ago how Ty was sad to see the school year come to a close. My how times have changed.
As we were talking about it last night, I was remembering back to the olden days when I walked uphill in the snow for 3 miles with no shoes just to get to school. You know, the real olden days. At least according to my kids, who think I don't "get" how school works these days. I'm closer to 40 than 30 but I'm not 80 yet. Geesh. I still get it.
Things sure were different when I was in school though, I will agree with my kids on that point. The End-of-Grade testing was not such a big deal. There were no set reading goals where you had to read certain books and then take computerized tests on them to gauge your comprehension level. My 7th grade Science project involved testing the absorbency of different brands of paper towels with some water I turned blue with my mom's food coloring. I certainly never hand crafted a 3 foot tall working volcano for a Science Fair.
I miss the way school used to be. I wish my kids could experience school the way I did, without all the pressure that is heaped upon their narrow shoulders nowadays. When I was in Kindergarten we had nap time. We pulled out our brightly colored little mats and laid down every day after lunch. We were 5 and that's what 5 year olds did. We learned the alphabet and how to tie our shoes. If we had mastered both those skills along with knowing our shapes and colors by the end of the year then we were right on track, educationally speaking.
Not so these days. By the end of Kindergarten my daughter was expected to know how to read a basic book completely on her own. She was expected to do simple math equations with no assistance. She had homework and spelling tests. She even had a Science project due at the end of the year. And they certainly didn't take naps in her Kindergarten. Don't even get me started on what was expected of Ty during his 5th grade year.
Why are we in such a rush to have our children grow up so fast? Why do they need to have so much crammed down their throats beginning at the tender age of 5? I miss the old days, when Kindergarten was designed to ease kids into education. I'm sad that my kids will never get to know the way school used to be, before it became a competitive sport for scholarships and Ivy League acceptance letters.
Shared with Mama Kat's Writers Workshop.