My child was crying as she left for school this morning. Crying — not because she’s being bullied, and not because she’s anxious, or trying to get attention. She was crying because later today she will be bored to tears. As the last seconds of our morning tick away, she scrambles for something, anything to do, later, when she will be bored.
As I watch her rummage for a book to read, a coloring book, extra paper so she can practice math facts, I start to recognize the problem. She’s bored at school after she gets her work done.
I assure her that her teachers are friendly and glad to help challenge her mind. Most teachers can find an extra worksheet or activity for bored students. Budget crunches don’t allow teachers to make enough classroom copies already, so there are limits to what teachers can do.
Surely, there’s something you can do.
She says: I can’t get too far ahead.
Now, I’m perplexed.
You are probably familiar with No Child Left Behind. It’s the controversial legislation that attempted to level the playing field in education, catering to students who are:
- In poverty
- Receive special education services
- Speak limited or no English
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) held schools, not parents and students, accountable to make up for these differences. Schools were given extra funding under the Title I designation to help where budgetary shortfalls left off. In 2015, NCLB was replaced with the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and parts of NCLB were repealed.
The Every Student Succeeds Act attempts to remove the behavior of teaching to the test by removing the scores of students who receive specialized services. Funding for the school is not withheld because of the scores of students who receive additional services. The scores of those students are not included in the school’s performance measurements and standardized test measurements. ESSA may be better than NCLB in some ways, but it is far from perfect.
Now students are forced to wait.
My child isn’t a problem child. She’s not gifted and talented or special ed. She doesn’t have a learning disability. She’s a lot like the majority of kids in school who are good kids and show up most days to learn something new. She takes sensory devices like stress balls and fidgets to school for times when there’s nothing to do. During times she is bored out of her mind, she fidgets with a small item kept in her desk. She attempts to solve her boredom in positive ways, but there’s only so long a good kid can solve her own problem before she becomes part of the problem because she is forced to wait.
My daughter is in the neglected majority, not because she is gifted or talented, but because she is being held back by an educational system that is too afraid it is going to be sued by the parents of kids who underperform.
Don’t get me wrong. Every child deserves an education. Every. One.
How long should a child be forced to wait?
In school, students learn to share. If someone doesn’t have supplies or forgets something at home, I encourage my kids to share. It’s just a nice thing to do. School supply lists are padded so that kids who don’t have means can have what they need to perform academically.
I stock up on extra supplies at the beginning of each school year when discounts are available, not just for my kids, but also for others in the class. I encourage my kids to look around and see who averts their eyes or who “forgets” more often than necessary. Be a friend and share or give what you have to these kids.
Look around at snack time and lunchtime. If you notice the same kids have hurting and grumbling tummies, be sure to share the food you have. It is a chance to make a new friend. One that you might have for life. Beyond that, it’s nice to share.
Sharing builds bonds of connection.
Developing skills by working with other people will take a person far in life. It will help if you learn to work together. You will have plenty of group projects in school and in life where you need to work with others. Life is seldom an individual activity. Working together is a requirement, a life skill.
Receiving good grades will sometimes depend on how well you work with others. If a team member isn’t pulling his or her weight, you can involve a teacher, if necessary. It’s even better if you can solve the problem within the group. You can’t make people show up, but you can encourage them by being an example.
Later, you will need to work together in whatever profession you choose. In the workplace, you can ask others for advice and ask them to share their expertise. Sometimes you will collaborate on a project. Someone who consistently fails to show up does not receive incentives and may eventually get fired.
This is life. Why isn’t it also this way in school?
Life is performance-based.
We’ve had No Child Left Behind.
We’re in the era of the Every Student Succeeds Act.
And, were setting ourselves up for No Child Forced to Wait.
How long should a child be forced to wait?