Are Our Children Being Left Behind?

Learning through Play
I know this is my running blog about my running adventures, but I had to repost this blog article written by a fellow barefoot runner and teacher. This topic is so important. I honestly feel that, in many ways, our public school system has lost its way and has forgot about our children. Something needs to be done. We need to stop producing a generation of robots and start nurturing creative thinkers and intrinsic learners. 

Please read Jason Robillard's latest blog post: National No Homework Week: A Revolution to Reclaim Families and Children 

Now. Imagine me walking over to my soap box, taking a large step up, then breathing in a deep sigh. Long exhale. I'm not one for preaching, but I do have my opinions about things that I feel very strongly about. One of which is our public school system and the mindset of American thinking today. Please bear with me while I have a moment.

I think kids are overscheduled and overwhelmed these days and it begins in preschool or even before that. Parents are afraid their kids won't be "ready" for school and so they bombard them with academics at a very early age. While parents are so worried about whether their children will be high achievers (or even achieve at all) they ignore the advice from The American Academy of Pediatrics that supports that free and unstructured play is necessary for children to achieve those important emotional, social, and cognitive milestones. We place our children in academic preschools and kindergarten readiness classes pushing them to learn sometimes before they are developmentally capable of doing so.

I belong to a parent education program which is also the co-op preschool I put both my children in. The program serves to educate parents about early childhood education (the preschool is actually the "lab" part) and supports a very play-based philosophy. We have speakers come in and speak about different issues ranging from the importance of sensory integration to public school issues like homework and standardized testing. 

The cool thing is: the teachers in our prgram are educating parents about how children learn through experience and play, how we can create intrinsic learners, and how we as parents can be their best advocates.  

The best part is: they are educating parents who would not normally question the current system.  

The frustrating part is: as parents, most of us (even armed with this information) feel hopeless to change an educational system that seems entrenched in its ways.

A lot of parents choose to keep their kids out of the public school system because of what they learned from our parent education program, but I believe the best way to change the system is within the system. Not sure if its possible. I was lucky to find a great public school that, so far, has not plagued my kid with a ton of homework. But this, along with standardized testing, has really gotten out of hand in a lot of schools. It also seems that the teachers have their hands tied with the bureaucracy of it all.

Change needs to come from somewhere. There will always be naysayers (just as there is with barefoot running). We need more teachers (and parents alike) who aren't afraid to swim against the tide, confront and question what is really best for our children. As parents, we often feel helpless without the teachers by our side because it often feels like they hold the golden key for change.

I don't know what it will take for this change to take place. Revolution is a slow going process. Who knows when or how it will happen, but the more we know about how our children learn the closer we will be. We need to understand what the public school system is and is not doing for our children. We need a creative solution to the overworked, anxiety-laden, unmotivated students of today. We need to ask ourselves, does this system have our child's best interests at heart or can something else be done?
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  1. I think you might enjoy a documentary A Touch of Greatness (available on Netflix).

  2. Cool. Thanks Ewa. I will definitely check it out.

  3. I could not agree with you more. But it is very frustrating to try and change the system from with in. We dealt with our school closing last spring and it was hard to show from a dollar stand point why we should remain open when it was really because of all the parent involvement that made our school great. They did close our school and think it is great for the rest of the community that our parent volunteer hours will now be spread through the rest of the city schools. But we will never truly get back what we had there. I've just tried to stay as involved as I can and hope that by doing that I will be aware of what's going on in the school system and make it the best that I can for my kids. But there are days that I want to just pull them out and find another choice. Wow, that was a rant!


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