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Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right…here I am. Stuck in the middle with you.

I feel sorry for us parents these days.

I know for a FACT that my mom never had to sign/initial reading logs, math homework check sheets, check Skyward for missing assignments, and all the what-not and whoop-dee-doo that parents do now. We are expected to be at the beck and call of the all-mighty Internet grading systems and school websites, and take responsibility for our children, of course, which we do, but also go way beyond that. We must also be their teachers, tutors, and task-masters. Not only do parents need to make sure their children are getting enough sleep, not doing drugs, not running around in gangs, eating their veggies, not getting Swine Flu, keep up on their school work, learn to dance, sing, ski, para-glide, and play pinochle, but we also need to make sure we check every….tiny….little….grain of homework because heaven help us! (GASP!) If something isn’t done we will be JUDGED and CONDEMNED as…dun…dun…dun……BAD PARENTS.

And what about YOU CHILDREN? Why aren’t you behaving like little executives, and get out your Blackberries and laptops and start scheduling your homework time, along with your sports, your music recitals, or your watching of little brothers and sisters?

I’m not exactly longing for simpler times, but I do wish there was a recognition that  long gone are the days when a mom was waiting at the door with a plateful of cookies for her darling 2.3 children, who did their homework obediently at the kitchen table. (That, by the way, boys and girls, is a MYTH. That never happened.) Long gone are the days when students sat at desks and did drill-and-kill worksheets, which have been ‘scientifically proven’ not to teach kids anything. Well, somehow I survived them, still learned to love to read, and understand where to use most forms of punctuation. I’m not saying we should go back to that, but consider that I have access to my children’s homework and assignments 24/7. That means there’s a teacher on the other end who is updating his/her website and links, rearranging, reorganizing, etc., and then the parents are supposed to be trained to go there daily to see if there is any updates because remember—the tiny grains of homework? If one math problem is missing, the entire assignment is penalized to 50%. And if you do the math, that’s failing. There are goal sheets for PE, goal sheets for reading, goal sheets for math, social studies, and science. Goal sheets for filling out your goal sheets. Are we playing a hockey game or trying to learn something? Oh, and the reading logs? I am so glad I didn’t go to school when there were reading logs. I would have hated that. I read. I read back then. Once in awhile I did a little book project or report, and my reward for being a good reader was loving books, and reading more great books. And that’s a gift I’ve used all of my life.

ct-jester_14253_lgWe teachers are trying to help parents know what their children are learning, and why. We parents are trying our best. Somewhere in the middle is the student–and the bottom line is, you need to take responsibility for your school work. Know when to ask for help, know when it’s due, know what the expectations are. If your teacher is churning out assignments and resources on Moodle, or a website, go there. If you don’t have access to computers at home, or the Internet, I guarantee you your teacher will accept your work on paper.

And she might even lend you a pencil.

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