...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Monday, March 15, 2004
      ( 11:53 AM )
Preschool Crackdown

This morning, NPR had a short report on the Prince George's County School Superintendant's intention to get rid of nap time for preschoolers. The main reason? There is too much studying the kids need to be doing! We're not talking half-day preschool either. We're talking a full day packed chock-full of glorious "studying" for FOUR YEAR OLDS. I don't think I have to say that this is simply ludicrous. I mentioned several months ago about how the NCLB is putting pressure on preschool educators and head start teachers to teach 4 year olds to take standardized tests. It only follows that officials would feel that children don't need sleep either. Of course, it's already been several years now that many elementary schools have taken away recess and breaks from children as well. Because ACCOUNTABILITY is what matters - not accountability for the health and welfare of our children, but for whether they can pass the tests well enough to get funding for their schools.

This is so stupid, there are not words enough to express how stupid it is. Forgive me for being redundant. This is ridiculous. Four year old children need nap time or at least a quiet rest period as much as elementary school children need recess time. Children can only absorb so much intellectual information before they reach their limits. They need to blow off energy, they need to get fresh air, they need sleep.

There is still limited research into this area, but some studies already show that the need for kids to take a break exists, despite schools insisting that the day be nonstop education:

The most obvious characteristic of recess is that it constitutes a
break from the day's routine. For people of all ages and in all
fields, breaks are considered essential for satisfaction and
alertness. Experimental research on memory and attention
(e.g., Toppino, Kasserman, & Mracek, 1991) found that recall is
improved when learning is spaced rather than presented all at
once. Their findings are compatible with what is known about
brain functioning: that attention requires periodic novelty, that
the brain needs downtime to recycle chemicals crucial for
long-term memory formation, and that attention involves 90- to
110-minute cyclical patterns throughout the day (Jensen, 1998).

Not only do kids need a break for their brains to rest. But recess and break time is time to hang out. Kids don't socialize or learn to interact and play with other children when all they do is sit in a classroom all day long. Of course, it's been long determined that social skills and having fun are in no way as important as getting your head crammed full of useful ways to pass a standardized test.

It continues to amaze me how politicians and the so-called "adults" in our society continue to put the burden of successful schools on the backs of small children.

Along different, yet strangely similar lines in its undertone of social manipulation, there was a story on this morning's Today Show (which I see no link to on their home page) about women deciding to quit the workforce and stay home with their kids. This subject REALLY steams this mama. First, the example they used was a woman who was leaving after 17 years as a stock analyst. The sociologist who did the research talked to 50 stay at home moms and said that most of what they talked about was how their corporate careers were "all or nothing" so they decided to stay home.

Now, I am in absolute agreement that work places are geared towards men who are the breadwinners of the household, and that there is still very little acknowledgement or help with employees who both support the family and raise the children (which can be moms OR dads). However, the entire gist of this presentation was basically: Now that women have achieved high positions and management status, they find that their jobs don't give them any flexibility to be with their kids. So evidently, it's only women who are CEOs or in high management positions that have to deal with this. All of us working women who will never reach management positions have LOADS of flexibility!

Not once did they talk about ordinary working women, single mothers or women who DO manage to find ways to both be the mom they want to be AND pursue their career. These poor rich career women, being tortured by this conflict. So sad they have to make a choice. Not. What's sad is that so many of us don't HAVE a choice.

The people who get noticed more often than not by the media are people with money. So when women who have banked thousands and are in the top tax brackets decide to "give it all up" for their children, it is seen as the prime example of how women really can't "have it all." The whole thing is utterly ridiculous.

This is one working mama that sees many other sides to the story that our media is trying to sell us, and I'm not content to allow them to characterize the women who have the conflict of work and home as only women in high-powered careers. Working women who are merely trying to survive have the same struggle, only they don' t have a choice. Even women who could possibly improve their economic standing if given the chance, are sabotaged because our government thinks it's better to push them into the workforce and not give them childcare or any other help while they're trying to care for their families.

The whole perspective on raising children in this country is as screwed up as the non-right to a civil marriage. This is one mama that thinks I may just have to write the Today Show a scathing letter... oh, and I'm also thinking about instituting regular home nap times for the whole family as well. Join the Nap Revolution!

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