Tuesday, November 2, 2010

My beef with schools

We all know that I really thought about homeschooling Kylie. Although the idea still crosses my mind often, at this point she is still in Kindergarten and actually likes it.

But that is not the point to this post.

Today I had the privilege of eating lunch with Miss Kylie along with Coop and Addy. As soon as I sat down, a boy from her class came right up to me and sat next to me. I have seen this boy before. When I went to the pumpkin patch with Kylie, this same boy sat next to me and talked my ear off. Kylie has also made mention of this boy (we will call him "the boy") and referred to him as "the boy who gets in trouble...A LOT". I know on one occasion the class was asked who wanted to sit with the boy in art class and my sweet Miss Kylie volunteered. She even got a sticker for sitting with him (more on that later). I have watched him squirm and jump around when asked to sit still and I have heard him apologized for his impulsiveness a number of times.

How sad!

How sad that a little boy has to apologize for being a little boy. No, he is not always behaving properly. In fact, I would bet to say he probably doesn't "follow the rules" 80% of the time. Many of those times, he is actually just being plain old naughty and other times, he is just getting the "ants out of his pants".

As I sat with Kylie today, this boy tried to engage almost every student at the table. He would try to get eye contact and then laugh or make a funny face. If no one payed attention to him, he would sit on the floor or do something that would require a lunch monitor to come and redirect his behavior. At one point, the monitor moved another boy away from the boy (whom wasn't paying any attention to the boy) and said, "let me move you over here so 'the boy' doesn't get you in trouble too". We sat there for 25 minutes. The kids were told they couldn't move..breath for that matter. They have to sit on their little butts and talk quietly (as quietly as a 5 year old can). I could see this little boy getting more and more frustrated. His little body NEEDED to move! He tried everything to get in control..I could see it but he just couldn't sit there any longer. He got up and did something naughty and got caught pretty quickly. Guess what his "punishment" was....you guessed it...he had to sit out at recesses!

All I could think was how ridiculous that is. A) he is 5 B) he is a boy and C) HE NEEDS TO MOVE! So his punishment was actually probably going to get him into more trouble later in the day.

So the problem you ask...schools require our kids to sit for too long. Yes, they have made major modifications and I believe Kylie's teacher does a lot to get the kids moving during the day. BUT the expectations of a 5 year old are just too high. This little boy shows his behaviors in school but I know many other kids will hold it together until they get home and then blow (my Miss Kylie being one of them). It just isn't fair to make them sit and concentrate for 6.5 hours a day. Seriously...To top things off, Kylie told me that yesterday they couldn't even run at recess because someone was running and got hurt. Therefore, no one was allowed to run for the rest of the day AND they couldn't play on the playground...just the blacktop. Hmmmmmm??!!!

My heart went out to this little boy. Maybe it was the mom in me. Maybe it was the social worker in me. I don't know, but I do know something needs to change. Schools need to be more creative with teaching their students and letting them be kids. Kids need to move and they need to move often. Sitting still at lunch (free time) is just crazy. Yes, they need to stay at the table but why can't they play a clapping game or laugh for crying out loud. And adults need to realize children understand when they are labeled the "bad kid". I am sure this little boy didn't feel so great when the lunch monitor thanked me for sitting with the boy and I am sure he felt lonely when no one would sit with him in art and the teacher needed to bribe kids to sit next to him. He is only 5 and already is wearing the scarlet letter.

Just wanted to make it clear that I don't have a particular problem with the school my child attends...it is just the entire school system that has it's flaws.


Kara said...

This is why I'm seriously concidering home schooling Timothy. I know he would be labled the problem child. He can't even lay still in his sleep. The whole thing with recess just makes me angry! No wonder so many children are medicated needlessly! You can't expect kids to sit still unless you give them an outlet for their energy.

Corrie said...

AHHH!!! That is so frustrating. From the teacher perspective I can understand wanting the kid to be "good." BUT BUT BUT!!!! Anytime your attitude makes the children think there is a "bad kid" it is bad. The teachers and monitors need to realize the label they are putting on this precious little one.

Perhaps you could call his parents and tell them what you observed his is "bad" behavior. That may get the ball rolling in a positive direction for him.

Pamela said...

A friend of mine homeschools down in Amish country, and her kids were playing on the playground during school hours. A teacher reemed them out for running on the playground. Same reason as you... some kid was running fast and fell and got a bloody nose.

Because that was the first time that has ever happened. Ever.


AmyCS said...

What a thoughtful and touching post, Kara. Schools could really use someone like you on board!

Anonymous said...

I am not even sure who you are but I happened across your post. I got tears in my eyes reading it here at my desk at work. If my twins were still in Kindergarten I could have sworn you were talking about one of them. They are 6 and both in 1st grade now. They both have been dx with ADHD and get a bum rap from their teachers. They are very intelligent and just need to move and be boys!!!! It is frustrating to the teachers but there has to be solutions that work for everyone. Thanks to the tug on my heart. <3

Naomi Przygoda-Mrs. Owen said...

I challenge you to take on a teacher's job for one week and let me know how it goes. There is so much more to it than what you saw at lunch. As difficult as it is, you have to have children remain calm in a cafeteria full of other children for safety reasons. Also, the playground...it is because of all the parents who sue who make us teachers tell the children not to run, slow down, put down the ball. I have a child and I would expect him to sit still during lunch regardless if he is 5 and a boy. You have no idea what goes into teaching unless you experience first hand. 25 minutes at lunch will not give our job justice. Sorry, if you don't like the school system, pull your child out and do a better job.

Kara said...

Well Naomi, Apparently you don't know me and know that I DID WORK IN THE SCHOOL! YES, I DID! I was a school social worker for a while and do see the challenges you face. Maybe I wasn't clear but I was more concerned with the way the LUNCH monitors dealt with this kid. No, it isn't right! You don't label a kid as a bad kid! EVER! You DON'T talk about him like he isn't sitting right there! That is just common sense. AND YES, there is a lot of things the schools can do to help these kids. Really! I used to do them!!! Take the kid to the gym for 10 minutes in the beginning of the day! I agree safety is a concern but clapping your hands??? Seriously! I do also understand that teachers have a lot on their plate!! I don't know what goes on in the classroom but there is a lot more to this story that I didn't post for privacy concerns!! Just to let you know...

Kathryn said...

Every parent with boys should read Raymond Moore's "Better Late Than Early" ... and every parent of girls for that matter. I am the mother of SIX boys and 4 girls and home school. I know for a fact that 2 of my boys would have been labeled with ADD or ADHD and put in remedial classes had we sent them to the local school. We knew that they just needed time to mature ... one didn't read until 7 1/2 BUT then took off and at 12 placed at a college level in reading comprehension. The second didn't read WELL until he was NINE! This one really tested me as I was scared something was really wrong ... but sure enough one day he just got it. Prior to that he just wanted to be outside running, climbing, exploring ... I'm so so thankful I have the privilege to home school my kids because I know it isn't an option for many people.

hcfischer1 said...

Note to self: Do not enroll my children at Hunter Elementary school in Raleigh, N.C. Wouldn't you like to have your child taught by someone with such distain for parents?
Anyway, as someone who HAS also worked in the schools I am thankful that some of the younger teachers (and a few older, too) have embraced a new way of discipline and teaching strategies to actually engage children in the classroom.

As an educator my heart broke for all children but specifically boys who struggle to learn in an institutional environment. Michael Sullivan came and taught a workshop for parents and teachers 2 years ago at our local library. He was fabulous. I highly recommend any of his books. I read "Connecting Boys with Books". He's been an educator and librarian for 20 years. He also has worked with boys with ADHD using non-traditional education settings for learning without being medicated. His website is:


My boys are in public schools, for now, but if I see them struggle in that environment I will pull them in a heartbeat.

Fueled by Love said...

The reality of this situation is that this child obviously has internalized the feeling of "being bad" as modeled by the reactions of his peers to him. His subsequent behavior problems after being "shunned" by his peers is evidence to that. In my teaching days I went to a conference in which we took a survey to find out personality color. Most children are orange, which means they learn by doing, moving, talking, singing, etc. Most teachers were blue, which is the color of "a tight ship" and order. It is hard for children to fit in the model that the school system presents. Kudos to teachers and parents who recognize this and do the things that are necessary for children to learn by doing!