The First of the Last

Today is the first day of my daughter’s last year of high school. Technically, tomorrow is the real first day of school for seniors, but she is there today as part of the school’s mentor program to help the freshmen acclimate.  So, since she’s there, I’m counting this as the first of the last.

Only 8 months left of the public school system. There are plenty of good things about this. Seniors graduate the same day no matter what, so snow days mean nothing this year except a day off. No worries about the school year extending too far in to the summer. No more dealing with the parents who complain about everything the school system does. No more caring what the public school system does. My life will no longer revolve around the public school calendar. We can go on vacation when everyone else is still in school.

The good is countered by the sad. Only 8 months until our youngest graduates from high school and then only a couple of more months before she leaves for college. Less than a year from an empty nest and a lot of alone time for me. Less than a year until I only see my kids occasionally.

It is a bittersweet year for me.


Back to School Advice

Schools are now back in session. I’ve decided to make a list of things I think kids should do to make the school year better.

  1. Be Nice – Smile at people when you pass them in the halls. Say hello, good morning or another pleasant greeting when possible. Help people who need help. Talk to people who seem to be alone. Invite them to eat lunch with you and your friends. Making someone else’s day better will make yours better as well.
  2. Be Yourself – Or Batman, but I think the school would frown on that, so be yourself. It might seem easier to pretend to be something you’re not in order to fit in, but it’s not. If you need to change to be someone’s friend then they are not a friend worth having. Spend time with people who like you for who you are. You need to like you for who you are as well.
  3. Stand up to bullies – You might not be bullied yourself, but you probably know people who are being bullied. If you see it, say something. Tell a teacher, tell a counselor, tell the bully to back off. Do something. Don’t just let it go and hope someone else will take care of it.
  4. Work hard – Studying and doing the best you can on assignments will not only improve your grades and your chances of getting in to college, but also help you develop good habits for the future. College will be harder and the more you get in the habit of doing the work now the easier it will be to adjust later. Also, good work habits now will make you a good employee in the future.
  5. Have fun – Work hard, but also find time to enjoy the high school years. Join a club that interests you. Go to football games. Go to dances, with or without a date. Hang out with your friends as much as possible.
  6. Make the best of this time while you are in it. Don’t be someone who looks back with regret on the things you did or the things you didn’t. This is your only life. Live it well.

More school rants

I have once again made the mistake of engaging in discussions on Facebook about school calendars. I will try to be more coherent than normal by ranting in a numerical, topical order.

1. “You can’t make X change to the school calendar because I can’t/don’t want to find child care” – It is not the school system’s responsibility to worry about your child care issues. It is the school system’s responsibility to educate your children and to adjust the calendar in the way they feel best accomplishes this. It is YOUR responsibility to deal with YOUR child care issues. Be prepared. Have arrangements in place at the beginning of the school year so you know what you will do if there is a 2 hour delay or 2 hour early dismissal. If these are built into the calendar, it is even easier. Talk to your friends and neighbors. I’m sure you can find someone who will help you. Don’t tell the school system it’s not fair that you have to do this.

2. “I’m mad that you are extending the school year due to bad weather even though the calendar clearly stated that is what would happen. I ignored this and planned a vacation for the day after school was supposed to end” – You are not very smart. Read the calendar. Make your plans accordingly. If school will be extended because of winter closings, don’t make plans too close to the last day of school. You are asking for trouble. It’s not the school systems fault that you can’t/won’t read or just don’t care.

3. “If the school year is extended I will just not send my kids the last week. Nothing happens anyway” – Maybe nothing happens in elementary school, but that all changes toward the end of middle school and especially in high school. You should prepare your children now to expect to stay in school until school is actually over. Also, what kind of lesson are you teaching them if you pull them out of school early because you weren’t smart enough to plan your vacation properly?

4. “We should not even consider school start times because they will have to get up early when they are adults” – Adult and teen sleep needs are totally different.  When they are adults, their sleep cycle will change and they will be better able to deal with this. Why don’t you be honest and admit that you don’t want to mess with school schedules because of #1 above? Many people who argue against late arrival for high schoolers are just afraid they will lose their free babysitting.

I’m sure there were more, but this is all I can remember right now. Now I need to stop reading comments.

No more lazy summer days?

Last weekend, The Washington Post ran an op/ed piece extolling the virtues of year around school. Today there was a small piece in the same paper about what activities to do with your kids to keep them from falling behind or apparently being “lazy” over the summer. I guess the summer days of riding bikes, playing baseball or just hanging out with your friends like I had as a kid are now a bad thing that will prevent our kids from getting a good education and will lead to them being stupid, lazy and poor. I guess me and my friends were just lucky that we survived these horrible summers, made it to college and have good jobs.

What we are creating is a generation of kids who will not know relax or have fun. We will have a new generation of Type A, stressed out people and then we will wonder why road rage is getting worse, the suicide rate is up and people are snapping and lashing out at each other. Lazy summer days are not a waste of time. Lazy summer days are a time for kids to use their imagination, explore their world and learn how to relax. That’s just as important as what they learn in school.

There is also a push for year round school as a way to alleviate the daycare costs for people. When did school become free daycare? Why are we expecting the schools to raise our children? Free daycare is not a good reason to take away summer vacation.