Sunday, April 27, 2008

Drama! Drama! Drama!!

Last week was one with a helluva drama!
Starting with T1’s fall – that was maybe a deserving drama – she did see a lot of blood.
Hey, Big sis can’t be the only one getting all the attention. We had to put a couple of band-aids on T2 as well…for nothing…to give her some needed attention!

Then started the real drama of T1's Standardized Testing (did I mention she is a Kindergartener??)…
Here is a note we got from T1’s class teacher prepping us!

Dear Parents:

As you all are aware of, next week is Stanford Testing. Just a few reminders for the week:
Please make sure your child gets enough rest and sleep.
Eat a nutritious breakfast - RICH in fiber, protein, calcium and LOW in sugar.
Bring a bottle of water. Research has shown that water actually boosts brainpower.
Kindly have your child in the classroom by 9:15AM to allow the children some time to relax and unwind. The test will be administered first thing in the morning.

I'm tempted to add "YADA...YADA..YADA" to that note, but will refrain from doing that ;P
We got a pep-talk note of this kind every single evening!

And, another one every day after the tests! The first day we got a note saying that the entire test took about 50 minutes.
And that they were given time to "stretch and flex" in the middle.

And the icing on top of all this was when I went to drop T1 off on Wednesday, the entire class was in the playground, getting some “fresh air”, so they can be relaxed before the test.
I think we'll be basket-cases by the time our kids finish High School!

And the drama concluded with T2 having a fall at the exact same spot that T1 did! OK!! Not the exact same spot...but it was at the same park.
Just a couple of minor scrapes...but we're talking about T2, who needs band-aids when "akka" (big-sis) has a boo-boo, need I say more about all the attenion she demanded?


DotMom said...

how did the test go??

Sraikh said...

I have gotten a similar note but my oldest's 3rd gradet CSAP testing. A month before, 2 week,s a week and finally the friday before the test..we were asked to have a slow weekend and allow the kids to rest for their big test on Monday!!

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

dotmom: the tests went fine, i think...we'll get the results in june/july!!! (more drama)!
sraikh: kids in india go through so many tests with less hype!

GettingThereNow said...

GND, my views differ from yours on this. In my opinion, this is a good thing the schools are doing - teling parents to take it easy and to teach their kids to take it easy during exam time and not freak out like their whole life is on stake. Yes, kids in India go through many more exams with much less hype but don't you remember the "fear" associated with exams? All activities get suspended during those days - no one goes to any social functions, no one invites any one, the whole family stops watching TV (specially if someone in the family has board exams that year). I had been reading some posts on some blogs about this (back during the board exam time in India) and it seems that things haven't gotten any better. The pressure has only increased. At least here the schools are emphasising on providing the kids enough rest and nutrition and not pressuring them to study some more. I actually had an opposite kind of post planned on the letter I received from S' school - just didn't get around to doing it :)

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

CeeKay: If this happened at a higher grade, I would have hardly considered it drama for the same reason that you pointed out...
...That kids must learn to be kids and not be completely stressed out by the time they complete school (when the real stress begins).
I mean, T1 is in kindergarten... They should not even have these tests, much less the hype around it.
Trust me, I know what you mean about Board Exams in India. Yes, the competition and stress and hardwork has gotten much much worse since the time I completed school. It sure doesn't have to be all that stressful, but it doesn't need all this drama either, at least not for a KinderGartener, don't you think?

GettingThereNow said...

Hmmm. It must be a school district thing then. My older one took her first state mastery test in 3rd grade and that is when we received first letter. She took a DRP test (Degrees of reading proficiency) in 2nd grade and we didn't even know until after. They sure didn't create any hype.

Does T1 go to a private school by any chance - I know that the private schools here have a rigorous testing schedule - monthly tests and class tests and what not.

I definitely think there is too much emphasis on exams and results in India - and it is not only in Board exams. The pressure starts at preschool - you have to read those posts that i read to believe me.

And I'd disagree on one more count (I'm sorry :P) - I feel some kind of testing in higher elementary grades (3rd grade onwards) - definitely NOT at KG or 1st or 2nd grade levels - is good for them. A learning system without any means to determine how much of learning has been retained is no good, in my opinion. We don't need to associate success with high grades, but we definitely need to test kids in a non-stressig manner to see how much they have really learned. And from the test results we can determine which areas do they need extra help in - thats all. We don't need grading and ranks and all that other stuff. But I do believe that by eliminating testing and other competitions for kids, schools are developing non-competitive personalities with a false high self esteem. I mean - every swimmer on a swim team gets a trophy regarldless of their contribution to the team's ranking (same goes for all team sports). How do we make the winners feel special then? And if everyone is a winner without trying hard, how do we motivate them to really win/do well? A little bit of failing is necessary for our kids to learn two things - 1) to try harder to achieve better results and 2) to be graceful winners if they win and sporting losers if they lose.

Sorry it became a mini post. Maybe I will do a post on this instead of hogging your comment space :D

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

ceeKay: hey! it's not like I get a lotta visitors...I'm not gonna scream at you for hoggin my space ;)
I meant no tests for her at you were not totally disagreeing :)
yes, she is in a private school this year - our county only has 3-hour kindergarten :(
so we were not left with much choice...
I won't deny that I am glad for all that she's learnt and been exposed to this past year...just the final tests...
I don't have to read posts to know about the stress involved in schools in India.
My oldest sis, sis-H lives in Chennai, and I know first-hand how much worse it has gotten!
Unfortunately, it's no fun in the U.S. too! Right from pre-school all the way to High-School!!
I'm seeing that in my nieces and nephew (one in High School and 2 in Middle School).
Also from my second cousins who were visiting this past weekend.
They (both my cuz and his wife) moved here when they were kids
and they were completely stunned with all the changes they see now as opposed to when they were in school here...
I wish there was a way (one that would work) to change the school system to bring out the best in kids with much less stress!
Anyways, will look out for your post...

GettingThereNow said...

This is one thing I feel too - the school systems in India and US could learn a few things from each other. Indian school system could learn to be more hands on and less grades oriented, and American system could do with a little bit more aggressive curriculum, to say the least.

That said, I really don't know what you are talking about with regard to pressure in schooling here. And I am not just saying that to disagree, but really. My daughter is in fourth grade. Last year a friend of mine told me to be very scared of fourth grade - that homework quadruples and the kids are under a lot of pressure etc. Yes, S' homework has increased but she prioritizes and plans and is usually done with her homework well before the submit date. She hates it that now she has to do book reports on weekends too but has made peace with it and does it on her own. We have seen kids of friends in high and middle school and I agree it is tough. Specially since colleges here don't only look at your grades - they look at your entire personality. So a kid who has volunteering experience and has been active in sports might get preference over a book worm kind of kid. But I feel this system is also so much better than the Indian system where all that matters is your grades in ONE exam. Here at least the kids grow up with well rounded personalities.

I think this difference in our opinions over schooling system might also be due to the fact that school districts in different states are very different from each other - so maybe what you are experiencing is not what I see here and vice versa. Also could be due to a difference in our expectations from the system. A friend of mine chose a private school for her kids because that school handed out far more homework than other schools in the district and had weekly class tests - the exact reason that would have made ME run as far away from that school as possible. Different strokes for different folks, I guess :)

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

Hi again, ceeKay: About Private schools, unless the school district really sucks, I would not think of doing that! Or maybe if I had a few million bucks lying around and did not know what to do with it ;)
Most Private-Schooled kids (and their parents) have an air of "I'm too good for you" attitude.
So, am not sure if I want that.
Also, we give away so much to Uncle Sam, why not make good use of it!

The schools in our county are very well-rated and quite competitive.
They start tailoring their curriculum based on each kid right from Kindergarten!
I'd be nuts if I think about Private schools.

I am not concerned about the quantity of homework so much as the quality.
Doesn't matter if it is everyday, everyweek or long as they learn something useful and better out of it...and enjoy it.
Like you pointed out, it is not aggressive enough, I'd like to add - initially.
There is not much choice, so might as well acccept it and do it well.
Kudos to S for being so well organized! That definitely helps.

It wasn't until 6th Grade (last year) that my sis started complaining...
It was just a LOT. When there is too much homework in every subject, it gets tougher.
But this year is much more different. There is still a lot of work - for my niece, at least.
My sis just has to monitor overall if she's on track and in time.
My niece does not want my sis or bil to help.
She says, "It's my homework, so it must be my original thoughts and work. You shouldn't be helping me!"
There are a lot of innovative assignments - Like for History, they had to team up in pairs and each pair was given an era to work on - they had to come up with a quiz.
My niece and her friend had to work on the Great Depression.
He friend came up with questions. My niece used PPT to make a "Wheel of Fortune" kinda game!
Don't ask me how! All I know is she SO enjoyed doing it.
These are the things I love about schools here.
If only I had a history teacher who made it a little bit interesting...(SIGH)!

My older niece-P1 (Pup's bro's daughter) lives in Texas. She sleeps only 5 hours a day.
Between school homework and prepping for Debate tournaments and Latin and Dance, she's just swamped!
She needs all of these to get the overall personality you mentioned.
She recently qualified for TAMS and will have the advantage of completing college 2 years ahead of her non-TAMS peers! WOW!!
All the struggles and pushing and hardwork that started early-on is reaping benefits.

Again, each kid is different, so I'm sure the experiences completely vary!
Maybe like your experiences with S in 4th grade, I may find it contrary to my belief as my kids grow up.
May be easier or crazier!

All said and done, I'm still looking for answers for the right path to choose.
If T1 and T2 enjoy being busy and working hard, I'll let them.
If not, I'm not gonna stress about it.
Like Dottie and I were talking once, at the end of the day, all that matters is that we raise kids with their feet on the ground!
Drama or no Drama, if they do not know how to use their knowledge and skills and can't be decent people, what's the point!!

GettingThereNow said...

GND, I think our essential views about schools and education align so no arguments over it from now on!

I agree with "raising them with their feet on the ground" part. All the education in the whole world is useless if they can't learn to be decent human beings.

Girl Next Door (gnd) said...

@CeeKay: YAY!! When you get a chance, do read my next post about my niece. The archetype kid! I really wish mine grow up to half as nice as she is...