Thank you, teachers

We are getting ready to send our oldest to kindergarten in the fall. In our part of North Carolina, there is LOTS of school choice–magnet schools, charter schools, lots of homeschooling co-ops. We have chosen to send our son to our neighborhood school. I plan to write a little more about this decision in the near future, but in further celebration of National Poetry Month, here’s a poem. I think I read it as a kid, probably in one of the school newsletters that went home every month. It’s a little campy, and certainly idealistic, but that’s part of the point. I really believe public education can be a great thing, but if you don’t go in with a helping of idealism about your school (the school your kids are attending), you aren’t going to be as invested in making reality approach that ideal. I don’t know that it has a title (I found 3-4 in the 3-4 different places that I found the poem on the web), but it has been attributed to Ray A. Lingenfelter, who, according to this source, was an elementary school principal:

I dreamed I stood in a studio
And watched two sculptors there,
The clay they used was a young child’s mind
And they fashioned it with care.

One was a teacher;
the tools she used were books and music and art;
One was a parent with a guiding hand and a gentle loving heart.

And when at last their work was done
They were pround of what they had wrought
For the things they had worked into the child
Could never be sold or bought.

And each agreed she would have failed
If she had worked alone
For behind the parent stood the school,
and behind the teacher stood the home.

P.S. Happy birthday, Jenny (one of my favorite teachers)!

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No TV week–update

So far, the no TV week has gone much more smoothly than I expected! I was probably the one closest to caving–my kids seemed to accept that, once we had declared it to be a no TV day, that was the last word on the subject. Here’s a quick summary of our experiences.

Daily Activities:

  • Monday: We visited a city park that was new to us and turned out to have a playground that was just right for my children’s current ages. That afternoon, we cleaned off our screen porch and porch furniture and had dinner outside. 
  • Tuesday: Thanks to spring break for schools and the beautiful, we had a playdate with neighbors from down the street. In the evening, our dinner was a “popcorn, hot chocolate, and PBJ” party.
  • Wednesday: I had to be the least creative for this day; we always go to storytime at the library on Wednesday mornings. I had a church knitting night that evening, so we had dinner a little early and I got to go knit and visit!
  • Thursday: Spirits were somewhat dampened by the rain, but we had pancakes for breakfast (thanks to Dad), the kids helped me vacuum some, and went out to the mall that evening.
  • Friday: We were supposed to have a friend over, but that was sadly cancelled due to illness. We’ve pretty much just hung around the house. My oldest and I finished reading “Rikki-Tikki-Tavi” together, and now it’s naptime.

Joys:

  • I’ve gotten more reading done in the evenings, because I haven’t watched TV. Shock!
  • It doesn’t actually take that much creativity to keep kids happy–just some dedicated time and willingness to not get things done on a particular schedule. I already “knew” this, but it was fun to actually experience. For example, they loved helping clean off the porch. While it took longer and might not be as clean as if I had stuck them in front of a video while I cleaned, we all did something together, and then we all enjoyed the fruits of our labor by eating dinner out on the porch once we finished.

Challenges:

  • Dinner that requires actual cooking is still hard to do. It’s a confluence of kids being crazy, me being tired, all of us being hungry, and an activity that actually needs my attention.
  • I had one day where I hadn’t gotten my shower before my husband left, and I often use TV when this is the case. I succeeded without (kids assigned to separate couches with piles of books to look at), but a day where I plan on no TV probably needs to be a day where I roll out of bed earlier.
  • I like to watch TV, too! I’ve recently discovered the abbreviated series Firefly, and I’m eager to watch the rest, to the point where I’ve been daydreaming about how a librarian could be of use on Serenity. (Sadly, I don’t think I’d make it. Aside from all the dangerous parts, they need a hacker more than a reference librarian–Shepherd Book and Simon had the ready reference question on bizarre marriage customs covered.) But I’ve survived, and, as noted above, I got to read more because of it.

Going Forward:

I don’t think we’ll do a no-TV week again right now, but I do plan to cut down on the number of days in an average week where we are watching. I think choosing 2-4 days per week to designate as “no TV” days will work without too much trouble, so that’s what I’m going to try next.

Turn off the TV (DVD, Netflix, etc.) week – Day One (Monday)

We have not had a TV for about 4 years now–we never had cable, and when the broadcast TV service switched from analog to digital, we never made the switch. (We did get a converter box, but for some reason it did not work…could have been my and my husband’s lack of mechanical expertise, could have been patchy service…either way, it didn’t work!) We haven’t missed it much–I would have liked to watch the Olympics last summer, but that’s about the only time I’ve missed our television.

This is not to say that we do not watch TV. We have a Netflix subscription, a decently large collection of DVDs, and we make use of Hulu, PBS, and other network sites to watch TV. We also check out DVDs from our public library and my husband’s university library. In general, I allow my kids to watch about a half an hour of TV a day, and I watch about 5 hours a week, between watching films and watching TV series. It is probably too much.

Taking time off from TV was my husband’s idea, and he proposed a month. It was a good idea, but I did not think I could go that long. So we are starting with a week. I hope that after this week, we can adjust our schedule so that we are not watching something every day. The hardest parts of this for me will be a) managing the after naps/before dinner crazy time of day, which is normal TV watching time and b) cutting out my own watching, which usually happens during the end-of-the-day collapse after the kids are in bed.

We are only on day one, so we will see how it goes. Today, we have the help of good weather–we’ve already visited a new-to-us city park with a pretty fun playground, and will head outside again after naps for a little bit. We also have playtime with friends scheduled for tomorrow and Friday, so those will also help.

I should note that this will not actually be a full week. We are attending a wedding on Saturday without children, and I do not believe in leaving a babysitter without the option of TV time.

Here we go!