Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pick Your Battles with School, Too

Sometimes I wish I felt called to homeschool the girls. After just two months of public schools, I already have two big gripes with things they're being exposed to, and I know it's only going to get worse. But I'm not a homeschooler. I would hate it. They would hate it. It wouldn't be fun for any of us. So then I think about private school, and I like that idea, but hate the cost, especially since I think our city has such an excellent school system. My gripes have nothing to do with the curriculum, and certainly nothing to do with the teachers. In fact I'm thrilled with what they're learning in class, and I trust their teachers completely. No, my concerns are from some of the "extras".
First...A couple of weeks ago I became frustrated and disappointed about the number of videos they watch at school. For weeks, they only thing they did at the library was watch Franklin or Arthur. What a ridiculous waste of time! The real kicker was the week that Abby watched 3 movies and Sarah watched 4 - including 1 in music and 1 in PE! PE - of all places!! I tried to address it with the administration but really didn't get anywhere, and I finally decided that I had to let it go or risk getting labeled a "difficult parent" very early in our 6-year elementary school stint. I mentioned yesterday, it's drug awareness week. I think 5-year-olds are too young to be taught about drugs. Why in the world do they need to know about this now? But, I don't really have a problem with the school guidance counselor talking about drugs in an age-appropriate manner. I think our guidance counselor is great, and I trust her to keep the content appropriate for their maturity level. Just today, Sarah went to guidance and learned "Don't eat drugs." She told me that medicines are drugs and you should only take medicine if a doctor, nurse, or your mom or dad gives it to you. Never take it from a friend or stranger. Great, I have no problem with that. But she also went to an assembly today. I happened to be up there helping Abby's teacher, so I sat in the back and watched. It was a performance by a group of teenagers from the high school. They introduced themselves and said why they were drug, alcohol and tobacco- freee, and then they did a little skit. In the skit, they held up signs, but since most kindergartners can't read, that wasn't very helpful for them! After the skit, they talked about each sign, but I think most kids only heard the "no no no" part. Then they performed a rap song. This is when I started squirming. One boy talked about LSD and said you could die. This is definitely not age-appropriate material, and I found myself glad I had kindergartners who probably didn't understand any of it, rather than 2nd or 3rd graders who might get just enough to worry me. And it turns out that Abby heard more than I thought; in the bathtub Sarah was singing the little "ditty" they learned ("we are x school, and we are proud, to be drug-free in the community"), and Abby said "yeah, if we do drugs we'll die." I really didn't like that, since Sarah thinks that candy is a drug!!
So here I am once again. Faced with a real conflict between wanting to protect my children and not wanting to be a difficult parent. I know have to pick my battles, I just wish I didn't keep getting thrown new ones so frequently! If any of you more experienced parents have any words of wisdom, I'd love to hear them!


Ted said...

I thought it was just me!! I have a girl in kindergarten as well and I was shocked to hear that the school was celebrating Red Ribbon Week at all grade levels. My daughter is in a different school system than yours are, but I too have the utmost confidence in the system, the curriculum and the teachers. HOWEVER, I don't see the point in introducing the concept of drugs to them at this age. My daughter still has no idea what they are and I am absolutely no help. My wife is up at the school a lot (room mom in kindergarten is practically a full time job) and we debated whether to even mention our concerns/ confusion over the subject at all. We decided to just let it pass, but I still don't understand the logic...

Lane said...

I remember thinking about things like this happening when the girls first started school. It's a hard thing to let them out into a world that you can't control. It is also hard to stand up for them and what you believe in without creating a stigma around yourself and the girls. BUT I have total confidence in you and your abilities and good judgement. Stand up for the girls, Janet. You'll feel better and a lot of kids will benefit from it.:)
Good Luck!

Jenni said...

Huh. Interesting post. I agree with the age appropriate thing. I used to run a touring performing arts org that toured to schools about diversity and multiculturalism, but we did it for mostly middle & high school. every now and then an elemn. school would bring us, but we only did 4-6 grades... even though it was funny and engaging, it was too hard for the little kids to understand and sit still for 45 minutes.

And, i would so love to homeschool, but i don't think it would work with my work schedule. Sigh.