Just today
Bacon, briefly

A Proper Education

This morning it was snowing, big, fat, fluffy flakes, so instead of lining up outside, the students at Sophia's school were huddling in the cafeteria. They like to do that three times a week or so, and act surprised by the weather like we don't live in Denver or something. We get snow, is what I'm saying. Why are we even trying to line up outside in the morning after October? Why isn't there a tunnel directly from the parking lot to the cafeteria, and would it kill someone to hand out coffee to the parents? Is it just me?

Ooooookay, then.

On my way back out to the parking lot, I started chatting with another mom. Almost all the other moms, by the way, are about twelve. There is one other mom my age, and a grandmother who does dropoff and pickup that I really get along with. But most of the time I'm chatting away with some nice young woman, paying no attention to what she's saying, because I'm wistfully remembering when the skin under my eyes had that lovely satiny texture, instead of looking like soggy tissues. Ah well.

So the lovely young mom says hesitantly as we pick our way across the ice, "So, um, how are you guys doing with the homework?"

How are we doing with the homework? I've considered faking my own death to get out of helping Sophia with the reading group journal. I may or may not have written scathing letters to the inventor of Singapore Math (in my head). When I unzip Sophia's backpack and pull out the homework folder, the cat runs and hides, the lights dim, Sophia's pupils contract, and my heart rate speeds up. 

"Homework. It's...a lot. We have tears," I said mildly, because I thought a more sincere reply might get me pulled into the counsellor's office. AGAIN.

"US TOO," she answered, relieved. We exchanged coping techniques for a little, but that quickly died off, because hers were mostly things like, "I have her write her spelling words on index cards in the car," while mine were more along the lines of, "no, seriously, I think I could pull of the whole 'faking my own death' thing."

"Well," she sighed finally, "I guess it will all be worth it. Next week, when they take the standardized tests, I'm sure we'll see the results then."

I sort of froze for a moment, thinking about that. I looked back over the years at the boys' standardized tests, and I tried to imagine anything that could matter less than a kindergartener's test scores. Then I thought with horror, what if it DOES matter? What if it affects the groups she's in or the class she moves on to? What if people ACTUALLY THINK IT MEANS SOMETHING?

I muttered something that was meant to sound positive and agreeable, and staggered off to my car (WITHOUT COFFEE). I don't know much, but I'm pretty sure about one thing here: SOMEONE does not have this whole education deal figured out.


Jan in Norman, OK



I hear your pain. My two have now successfully graduated college (our son this past Dec) so we are on the other side of this issue. However, we had a kindergarten teacher here, in Florida, refuse to give the standardized tests, saying they were useless and that they took her away from teaching the other children, as they were given by computer and she had to monitor each student as they took them. The school board eventually agreed, and standardized testing has been removed from grades K-2. Interesting how the different school districts have different rules.

I will say that my year of education in Colorado Springs (sixth grade, Madison Elementary) was the best year of primary school for me, and that includes a school for children of the American military, in Germany, and two different Catholic schools, one in Syracuse, NY and one in Hampton, VA.

See the Florida story here:



Coming from a pre-k/kinder teacher - you sound like... ONE OF US!


And to commenter Mary above, I followed that story and that teacher is my HERO! Unfortunately for my school (Title 1 funded), they don't have the power to decide to stop those tests and I can't afford to lose my job by refusing to administer them, but LORD how we all agree with that wonderful woman. These tests are RIDICULOUS for these kiddos! I'm required by our system to send daily homework to PRE-KINDERS! >:( Kira, please know that (hopefully) most of the teachers Sophia will encounter will PRETEND that these test scores matter because the powers that be make us say they do... but really, her teachers will KNOW these tests mean squat doodley. I tell all my students' parents "off the record" that the students who have the hardest time fitting into the cookie-cutter molds now required in public education will be SO successful in life! The talkers who are always hushed in the classroom will be grow to lead business meetings, and the movers who are always stilled in the classroom will grow to run marathons and travel the world, and the daydreamers who are always hearing they need to focus more will grow to establish much-needed nonprofits and or invent things we don't even know we need yet, and the anxious and nervous and quiet thinkers who are always put on the spot in the classroom will grow to be disciplined officers protecting our country or soft-spoken counselors helping those who need help the most, and... you get the point. It's a lot but my biggest passion in teaching is making sure my students and their families KNOW that their best strengths will most likely never show up on any grade or test score. The stuff they bring to the table can't be measured. Good luck, Momma! Rooting for Soph and you to survive kindergarten - and maybe even have fond memories of it someday!


Honestly Kira, I haven;t even read this post yet. I just clicked on the link to your blog to see if there was a new post & there was and you have no idea how excited I was to see that.
Just so you know... and I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way!


Way too much focus is put on grades- the focus should be on the learning process and the ENJOYMENT that can come from learning.
My oldest is a senior this year & the director of the upper school did not want him taking 7 classes. She argued he needed a study hall to study & do homework in so he could keep his grades up. My son was so excited about his courses I ended up refusing to make him drop classes. The crazy part? He got better grades than ever the first semester!
Homework in Kindergarten is just plain silly. Making children at that age do worksheets and such is pure torture. Some kids will gladly comply but plenty learn much better in other ways. Don't sweat it. It all works out in the end.
As for your college son on hiatus, i never returned to college after a very close friend died a few days before my sophomore year. And my life turned out absolutely amazingly wonderful.


Kindergarten homework is OF THE DEVIL. Kg standardized tests? Even worse.


I want to hug Dani and print her comment out and staple to my wall (and foreheads of a few people I know). It literally brought tears to my eyes because I remember being in yet another meeting with yet another teacher who wanted to tell me how my kid challenged her in class and how she couldn't understand this behavior. I sat back and just sighed and said, 'I think you and I have a different objective in this process. I'm not raising a child, I'm raising a future adult. An adult who will think for himself, who will question established rules because the response 'we have always done it that way,' doesn't move business or life forward. I'm raising a child who knows that a title doesn't give them power, but strength of character does. I'm raising a man who will someday do something amazing and you have the choice right now to be part of his memories of what shaped him or be a part of the past he overcame." It was that moment that I wrote my parenting mission statement. All the tests don't matter, the grades only matter to a point...but the reality is, he will become an adult one way or the other...what kind of adult will I have a part in raising?


I have to giggle at your comments on having nothing in common with the other moms, for they are all much younger than you.

My last two kids - #5 and #6 - are, obviously, the youngest in our family. Yet, their classmates are all the oldest in their families, which means I am the very jaded and no fun to talk to mom who says things like, "I don't study with her at all. I've already completed fifth grade!" and "huh. They have another project due? Emma, have you already - ok, good, then."

You and I are twinsies.


Ok, I'm thinking there is a story behind
" I thought a more sincere reply might get me pulled into the counselor's office. AGAIN."

Again? Why have we not heard about this.

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