Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Too Early

In church a couple of days ago, as the children were gathering together for singing time; one of the ladies remarked that it seemed we were getting our numbers back, now that summer was coming to an end and everyone was returning from vacation.

I think I gave an involuntary gasp.  Summer coming to an end?!

How could that be?  We were still in July!

Well apparently, school districts decide when summer begins and when it ends. 
The sunshine and tomatoes ripening in gardens, warm nights and mosquitoes have nothing to do with it.
It matters not that here in Colorado, summer didn't even feel like summer until the actual day it officially began. 

Nope, around here summer ends somewhere between August 4th and 16th.   Some schools actually begin on August 4th.   I heard that information directly from the cashier at Walmart. 

What amazes me even further, is that parents think that's okay.  They just accept it.
Not only that, but I saw many ( in the frenzy that is Walmart- back-to-school-shopping)  who seemed excited to send their children back.

What happened, first of all, to three months of vacation?   What happened to families spending as much time as possible camping and watching the night sky together?    What happened to extended stays with grandparents and family reunions and days of blissful boredom? 

As I walked past the school supply aisles in Walmart, I felt a certain sympathy for these families.  Children with blank looks on their faces while their parents ask them which color folders they want.   Parents who are faced with the long lists of required supplies by various teachers.

I felt a small sense of glee, knowing that if I needed anything from that aisle for our upcoming school year, it would be a few boxes of  Dixon Ticonderoga no. 2 pencils...they really are the world's best pencil!
I will shamelessly plug for them and refuse to buy any other brand.  And if, by chance, an executive for the company should read this and wish to send me free boxes of pencils....well, I'd gladly accept them.  : )

Now, to be fair, I understand that many families have two working parents or a single parent who must work.  That summer is a difficult season for them and it's a relief to have some place for children to go.  I get that.  

I also think that if  you see this all summer long:
and if it's like this to get children to go camping with the family:
 Then I can see why parents are more than willing to cut summer short in order to send their children somewhere to do something more productive.

I believe strongly in education.   But I'm not sure I agree that our children must put in more and more hours in order to get one.   They say that we are falling behind other nations academically.  
My personal feeling is that there is so much information out there and so many distractions, that kids today have trouble absorbing what is important and leaving the garbage out.
   I also feel that Americans of my generation and earlier, who grew up without computers and massive hours of homework, could and can go back to school if desired and do just as well in today's college setting.   Simply because they learned the basics well.

And while I don't believe home education is for everyone...and I'm glad the public school system is in place  for those who need it.....I am so glad my eyes were opened years ago to other possibilities.  
I can take my children off-season to choose folders and supplies they enjoy.  I am at liberty to incorporate faith in God into our school curriculum.  
My children, at tender ages, do not have to worry about bullies or not being understood by the teacher.  
We can read great literature as long as we want...not cut off by the bell.  
The kids don't have to pay a nickel to their teacher for use of the bathroom.  (My daughter had to do so in second grade.)
  We can explore the world together in a more natural state- without buses and standing in line. 
And, we can enjoy summer while it's here  in all its glory, and begin school when we are ready.  Which, for us, means the day after Labor Day unless we choose to begin earlier.

I'm grateful for my freedoms!

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