What do you think? Here are my thoughts. I could really go on for a long time, but I will try to limit my response.
When I saw this on the morning news I did some reading to see what the news agencies were saying about this problem. Most of the news agencies went back to learning loss due to the pandemic and how schools closed. When they closed the schools and went to online learning (having had to do the same thing as a teacher,) it didn’t go well. We weren’t prepared. Most teachers didn’t have the training, the tools, or the background to immediately switch to online learning. Families weren’t prepared. Many families didn’t have internet because they used one phone in the family for online activities. They didn’t have computers, or they only had tablets that wouldn’t support what the teachers wanted them to do. Parents couldn’t sit with multiple kids and help them with their zoom lessons.
I was lucky, my school was only doing online learning from March to May and then we were back in person for the following year. But, that was not the situation for many big school districts. I was working as a classroom teacher and doing online tutoring in the evenings, I was noticing a difference between my classroom kids and the kids that hadn’t even met their teachers. They were doing online learning the second year of the pandemic. They needed support, and I cannot imagine how difficult this would have been for teachers, the students, and the parents. I can only imagine what it was like for neurodiverse children.
So, yes, I can see why we have a problem. But this goes deeper than the pandemic issues. I have to be brutally honest with families. Teachers have unrealistic expectations set before them. Have you looked at your state’s academic standards? They are so packed and when I read through other states’ standards, I cringe. We pack them so full of things kids are supposed to do with such high expectations, it is no wonder we are falling behind. In my opinion, the expectations are too high for the kids because they have pushed these topics down to lower and lower grades, many children cannot grasp them because their minds are not ready for them. What they used to teach in 8th grade Algebra is being taught to 6th graders. We are expecting our kindergarten students to read by Christmas. We put our 3rd graders on reading plans when they are benchmarked and found to be behind. I realize all of these things are meant to be well intended and that they are meant to keep kids from falling behind, but are they really working?
Having been in the trenches for many, many years I wonder. It still keeps me up at night. Instead of working deeper in the content, we want to cover so much of it that kids can’t keep up! No wonder they are frustrated. No wonder parents are frustrated. No wonder our kids are behind.
I really don’t have the answers, but I can tell you that we do need to make a serious change. We need to stop ADDING things to curriculums that are not necessary. We need to focus on narrowing down things so teachers can move at a more realistic speed and dive deeper into topics. We need to find time to allow kids to wonder, to play, to interact with one another. We need to add recess! Yes, recess! Our little kids should have 3 recess breaks per day! Our high school kids need to have built-in breaks. How many of you take breaks during your day? Can you imagine only having your lunch break and then being in meetings all day, then at the end of the day you run to more meetings because you have chosen to be in additional activities. Well, that is what is happening with many of our high school students and we seem to be okay with this.
Yes, we need to be worried. We need to make a change. No, we can only control what we can control. But, I would encourage you, as a parent, to look into your state’s academic and social standards. See what they look like. Have conversations at the local levels. See how you can become active in your local decisions. Contact your state education departments and express concerns. And, if you are not happy, remember that you do have other options for schooling your child.
If you need support for your child, don’t wait to get help. Seek out a qualified individual to support your child and help move them forward. If you’d like to visit with me, you can reach me using my linktr.ee/sheryluehling.
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