Now a parent myself, I am lucky to live in Lower Merion Township, one of the strongest public districts in Pennsylvania. My children enjoy a variety of specials, including music, art and gym.If a problem were to arise with their learning, specialists would step in to help.
“I have an MBA, and I couldn’t understand them,” a neighbor, who teaches at Wharton, remarked today at the bus stop.
I had an entire speech planned out for our twins about how their father and I had already been through school, how we had completed hundreds of our own assignments, and how we had no desire to start now, in middle age, plugging away at theirs as well.
But even if our children can walk to their friends’ houses, they no longer have time to play.
Along with all of the benefits of an upper-middle-class educational environment comes the baggage of a system married to aggressive institutional benchmarks and re-achieving, year after year, high scores on standardized testing.
Having done a stint of teaching, myself, I too became a guilty member of this culture, heaping on the work.
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And I certainly encountered a fluttering flock of upper-middle-class parents, too preoccupied with their efforts to get their kids into Harvard to realize that they’d be better off at community colleges — had they gotten there themselves.We spent a tense evening combing through their homework, trying to decipher expectations, framing a manageable routine to adopt for completing their work, as much as possible, on their own.“Convinced that I hate homework 1,000x more than my kids,” an acquaintance, who lives in another state, recently posted on Facebook.I now realize that these unstructured activities — though sometimes mischievous — were more essential to my development than any prolonged book learning after an already extended day at school. My own helicopter parents, and decades prior, have subscribed to the notion that every minute of youth should be scheduled, that downtime is an evil to be avoided.We have unwittingly persuaded schools — in tandem with legislation such as No Child Left Behind — to join forces with us, insuring that educators teach to the test and assign homework earlier and in ballooning quantities.Furthermore, as part of a neighborhood school community, we can congregate with friends at nearby parks and seek out schoolmates next door and up the street.Given the disarray of the Philadelphia public schools and many other districts in the country, we are very fortunate, indeed.If you’re looking for first grade activities your kids will love, you’ve come to the right spot.Just click on one of the skills below and you’ll be taken to a huge collection of effective, creative ways to make learning fun for kids.“It took us an HOUR to get through a page of math,” someone else wrote back.“I think this is the rudest awakening of parenting,” another person added, “that one would have to go back to doing homework.