Official daughter of Dad Stuff, Olivia, has begun Kindergarten. Starting around 9 months ago, Olivia declared that she was never going to Kindergarten. I did and didn’t take her seriously. The fear was real: all transitions are fraught with their insecurities. But much like her promise to never attend college, because she wanted to live with her mom and dad forever, I knew things could change.
Change they did, by the time this fall rolled around Olivia was genuinely excited to attend Kindergarten. She had spent the entirety of her pre-k year riding a bus 15 minutes to another part of town, so going to the elementary school two blocks away was a nice prize too.
With about 48 hours before the big first day, I noticed fear begin to creep in again. Olivia started to act out in a couple ways that I’ve learned are surefire tipoffs that she’s feeling worried. First, she would ask endless questions, and when she reached the end of my answers she would fret that she wouldn’t “know enough” for Kindergarten.
Second, on the playground with a friend a couple days earlier she had a huge overreaction to having to leave. I knew something was wrong, so I confronted her. I asked her if she was worried about Kindergarten, and she relented with some tears. We talked about it that day and the next. Hugs were applied.
The big day came. She was excited again. She bounced into line and was thrilled to see her friends from the previous year. All was good. When I picked her up later that day, she was wearing a hat that said “I rocked the first day of Kindergarten” and had an attitude to match.
She told me she wished that she was still in Kindergarten, it was so much fun. All good right? Unfortunately, the honeymoon was brief.
Not even a full week in, the dam burst again. The teachers had announced “testing” by the end of the week. We were given a “homework” sheet of what she would “need” to know for the testing. My kid was afraid,. She told me that she feared not getting all the answers right, that somehow this would get her in trouble.
This all happened about an hour before we were due for our first parent teacher night. I was pissed. Official wife of Dad Stuff, Kate, was similarly boiling.
The test was one thing, but there was also more “homework”. Was it very easy? Yes! Was it equally stupid and pointless? Sure seemed like it!
As I recalled in what can best be described as a “rant” during the evenings meeting, I think I got my first true homework in the 3rd or 4th grade. We had recess twice day. Gym class nearly every day. My daughter has a recess, if she’s willing to down her lunch in under 20 min. Gym class once a week.
Does anyone think this is the right thing? No one in the room seemed willing to defend it on its merits. I was told that the homework grew like a nasty parasite throughout elementary school. How wonderful! I was told that the school was after high test scores on state standardized testing, as if that end justified whatever means.
I calmed down pretty quickly. There’s nothing drastic to do. The test came and went last Friday with almost no mention. Olivia seems pretty unfazed to do her homework every night.
Meanwhile, I’m left googling schools without homework, and wondering how much we’ll have to pay if we ever want to send her to a school that isn’t designed to turn children into anxious, depressed automatons that love doing some unpaid overtime.