The Packet

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There has been a great deal of discussion about school in our house recently. Seda says she wants to go to school, mainly because they have playgrounds that she can’t play on during the day because the kids are where?… In school. Will and I are trying to figure out what we want for the girls as far as school goes homeschooling, unschooling, public school, friends school etc…

One of my friends son’s came home from school the other day with their packet of summer exercises. They have to do one a day for the whole summer including a writing assignment on Fridays. She didn’t do this with him last summer so at the award ceremony at the start of school he didn’t get an award. This year he wants to do it so that he can get the award and not be embarrassed. It saddens me the district would set up a reward system that, because of peer pressure and the stresses of being an adolescent, forces the students to do summer work for fear that they will humiliated or teased by their peers for not receiving a certificate.

The idea of having summer work is great! I am all for learning around the clock 365 days a year but does it need to be so structured and limited. For parents who, for whatever reason, are unable to provide learning opportunities on their own during summer breaks these packets are great. Their children can participate in a learning activity every day. In this situation though if parents choose to seek out different learning opportunities for their children during the summer other than “the packet” the child ultimately pays the price the next year by not being awarded a certificate when their summer education program may have been just as or more rewarding or developmentally challenging as the packet.

These are the types of scenerios that come into my mind when I think of putting the girls in school. I have no solution, we are a rewards based society. We even like getting rewarded with points for spending money. I just feel bad for the students who gets upset at the assembly because they didn’t get a certificate for doing the packet.

Jennifer

Jennifer is a busy working mother of two who, along with her husband, has chosen to unschool her children. She currently blogs about her experience with the challenges and fun of unschooling along with her love of crafting and cooking at HarmonicMama.com.

2 thoughts on “The Packet

  • June 9 at 8:37 pm
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    Jenn, you are so on target about this. I have heard about some studies that show kids learn better when they are not rewarded (even with praise) for completed work or work well done. In the situation you talk about a kid is coerced out of shame; in other scenarios kids focus on the reward and don’t really enjoy the process of learning b/c its all about whether they will get external validation for what they are doing.

    Often I feel like by the time students get to me (at the university level) they’ve had all the fun beaten out of their own learning process & it’s really hard to get them to focus on the learning rather than what they “have” to do to “get an A”.

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  • June 9 at 8:49 pm
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    The sad part is that the school district probably has the best intentions when sending the kids home with this packet. They likely see it as a means of helping the parents, by saving them from having to look for other alternatives. And let’s face it, most parents wouldn’t have the time to look for other alternatives, or the funds to pay for such alternatives even if they did. So this packet sent home by the schools, with the incentive program built-in, must seem like a Gawd-send to many parents. One less thing for them to have to worry about.

    Personally, I think the packet is just another sign of a much much larger problem: We live in a society where most families just have both parents working, sometimes more than one job each, and that is what is expected and normal. Most kids are raised by babysitters and television, and the parents are happy if they can get dinner on the table by 8:00 or 9:00, and that is too often fast food. Anybody who suggests that they want better for their children, that they want to play a more active role in their lives, is laughed at or told that they are being unrealistic and, worse yet, that they shouldn’t even bother (Gawds know Dan and I have been told this by many many many people along the way). And such a complete lack of support probably contributes to the perpetuation of the problem, when the parents who would try to do the best for their kids just give up. But that’s just the way it is, you know?

    Fortunately, there are many in our generation — which had the highest percentage of latch-key kids ever — who are doing what we can to give our kids a better set of circumstances, by doing whatever is necessary to keep one parent at home to raise the family. With any luck, enough of us will succeed in the quest to raise our children ourselves that the schools will eventually expand their incentive programs — maybe with some kind of a test, or a “What I Learned This Summer” essay — to include children of parents who opt to find alternative means of continuing their children’s educations thru the summer months. But as long as the parents who are able to stay home and/or find sufficient time and/or sufficient funds to do so constitute such a minority, don’t count on it.

    Anyway, that’s my two cents. Sorry for the novel.
    😉
    Keep us posted on what you decide to do!

    Hugs!
    ~Karri

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