The question that keeps rolling in my mind for the last week is: What helps prepare kids to get their best start in life?
I’ve suffered a lot of anxiety over the decision to opt my kids out of accelerated classes this year. Except for accelerated math for Bekah.
Accelerated classes for middle school in our district works like this: it’s the exact same class except they are required to do more homework/ projects. Except for math. Math is based on your skill level. For instance, Bekah is in accelerated 6th math, which is pre-Algebra. Next year (in 7th) she’ll take Algebra. By the time she hits freshman year she should be in Algebra 2. That blows my mind because… geez. Algebra 2 as a freshman?! She must have gotten those math brains from her father.
She can handle it. Plus, she’d do just as much homework in a lower level math class anyway. The decision to opt them out of the other classes is based on homework, not function level. If all the other classes were higher level courses verses more homework for the same exact class, then that would be a different set of circumstances. I would probably come to a different decision.
Once you opt out of math, you can’t opt back in.
With the others at the end of the year they take your child’s proficiency, combined with the child’s test scores, and the teachers then make a recommendation to place the child into accelerated classes for the following year. My children always hit that benchmark and are put right back into the classes the next year.
I think opting out was the right decision for our family. For this year, at least. It’s a decision I don’t regret making when I’m in my most logical frame of mind.
The downside is that it comes with a lot of guilty feelings. Things that I ask myself on a loop, like, am I stunting their ability to excel in high school? Will they test in again (because they’re always a chance they won’t)? If they don’t, that means they won’t be in honors courses in high school. If that were to happen, will it be a factor for acceptance to the college they want?
I feel like people who hear what I’ve done think this decision is momentously stupid (they don't say as much, but their looks of horror say otherwise. LOL!). As if the only way to succeed is to get into the advanced classes. Because the thought process is: more homework equals smarter kids.
I can’t get onboard with that thinking.
THEY’RE ONLY KIDS. 6th and 7th grade is way too young to be piling on that much pressure.
School is important. Learning is important. Getting a higher education is important. However, there is so much more to consider:
- The mental health of the child. Are they getting enough downtime? Time to explore creativity? To read a book for pleasure? To bike ride? To paint a picture?
- They only have one opportunity in life to find and focus on what makes them insanely passionate. And I don’t want to take that opportunity away.
- Is more homework making them smarter/ better students? I question the validity of this when they consistently test into the accelerated program at the end of each year.
- I don’t want their only memory of childhood to be of doing obsessive amounts of homework. Especially sobbing till nine-thirty at night, only to be woken up the next morning early to finish what hadn’t been completed.
- I need to jealously guard the time given to them to become unique. To find own their individuality. Childhood is where you set those boundaries and start the framework for how you think/ feel/ act in life.
Even though I know I made the right decision for my kids, I still struggle with it. I question if I did the best thing. I won’t know until they’re older.
The decision doesn’t affect me, that’s what bothers me the most. I’ve done something that’s affects their lives, not my own. I can live with the consequences of my decisions, when the consequences are directed at me. I can’t can’t stand the thought of screwing it up for them when they didn’t have a choice.
These questions were too much for me this week. I’ve not been able to work. Thursday and Friday my anxiety was pretty bad. I needed to chill. To read. To stay away from everyone. I needed time to come to the place I’m at today.
Which is resigned to follow this path.