Thursday, August 16, 2007

Boot the grime of this world in the crotch, dear

Since I will soon be leaving (yeah!) my job in the K-12 education world and caution can be gently tossed to the wind, and since we are now deep within the “silly season” of dumb-ass back-to-school “advice”… right about now I’m going to step up the rant-based commentary...

Education authorities everywhere will soon be delivering their back-to-school sermons that include such bon mots as: “help your children pack their backpacks and ensure that they are no more than 10 to 20 per cent of the child's bodyweight.” But now, mid-August, is the time for those self-labelled “parenting experts” and their aggrandized views of the world to clog up editorial space with their monotonous tips on transitioning your children easily “from the laid-back life of summer to regular school days with just a little planning.” Ok, so most sane people, parents of homeschoolers and schoolers alike, stop there. But I like to dream up confrontational scenarios so I continue… and this is what I learn because you know I’m only a parent, not a parenting-expert, and don’t really have the time to think about these things myself what with all the modeling of good behaviour and backpack weighing I have to do:

- If your summer schedule has allowed the kids to sleep in you will want to plan some morning activities now so you can all get used to getting up and moving.
- If you have a child entering kindergarten, middle school or high school, celebrate this step toward independence. Don't whine about how much you will miss them or how hard this is on you, or at least don't do this in front of them. Remember, having a child who is ready for each step forward in his or her journey to adulthood is a testament to your good parenting.
- Often children do better without our help. Talk to your child about making it in a new place and certainly welcome all her new friends in your home. You can even hold a party in the first few weeks and include the parents if possible.
- All elementary school students should be walking to school. On the other hand, driving kids to school each day creates a dependency relationship that is not helpful for your child.

Send comments/ carping to: This reminds me of those happy homemaker articles from the 50’s which went something like… “when husband enters the door, do not ask him about his day or complain about your own day, simply greet him with his pipe, slippers and a smile…”

VIDEO Wheels on the bus by Mad'Donna


Someone was in our house the other day - as part of a larger group - asking, or rather stating, “so, you school at home do you?” (ugh… what an awful term). She’s a teacher. The statement was also easily recognized as bit of a set-up since she already knew the kids didn’t go to school. What was interesting was that the four of us had the same reaction: silence and a continuation of what we were doing. Then from the sublime came the ridiculous: “do you have desks where you do your work from?” More silence (and audible grunts) from the adults; laughter from the kiddos. Eventually one of us attempted to point out that our learning took place everywhere but the hand gesture meant to imply not only the house but the entire world around us was interpreted as pointing to the window seat. This seemed to satisfy her and the questions ceased as she embraced herself in the knowledge that we taught our kids on a 5x3 foot section of Ikea-fabric encased foam. Next time I'll point to the toaster.

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