It seems this time of year is the season of “super busy,” along with almost summer and the end of the school year. It certainly has effected the editors ability to get his Sunday posts up on time. Part of the cause is that when you live in a climate like Western New York and a rushed culture like ours in the USA, it seems we try to cram a lot of living into each day, week, and month. I believe some of this is for the best reasons. Who doesn’t want to live a “zesty life?” Yet we have had a cultural shift as Americans where doing more of everything seems to define us and measure us on some false scale.
We seem to emphasize quantity , over quality to our days. We don’t want to miss anything, but in doing everything, we often walk away short. We often seem to live this way and impose this on our children. From gymnastics and violin lesson for three years-olds to four or more things at for those 10, 11, and 12 years-old who need to do soccer, dance, karate and swimming. We as parents are not providing enough quiet and downtime for preteens, we are often harried and so our kids! In the wise words of no one in particular, “What the heck are we doing folks?”
One of my favorite bloggers, “Carrie” at “The Parenting Passageway,” a blog dedicated to peaceful parenting, from a Waldorf perspective, offers some great advice to reign it in on the family front and decide what’s most important. With its emphasis on: taking charge of your family’s schedule and aligning it with your family’s needs and values; letting go of the unimportant or perhaps just extra tasks and activities; to positive self-care for parents- building time for oneself as a parent for good nutrition, sleep, exercise, etc: and positivity she gives some sage advice for harried parents everywhere.
The Disney movie Inside Out is a great example of just how jumbled us parents can make a child’s life when we forget to give them time. Even worse is when we forget to listen to our childs feelings. We hope you had a great Father’s Day.
Looks like this guy at the Buffalo Zoo needs a field trip. © Lauer, 2014
I remember a few great field trips from back in the day. There was at least one trip to the zoo. It seems there were a few trips across the border. I recall having the chance to visit a school we actively corresponded with in Ontario, when I was in eighth grade. How cool it was to meet pen pals in person! This of course was a long time before Skype or Facetime. Then there was the whale watch and an incredible trip to Cape Cod.
I was very fortunate for these experiences. My children’s school district has been fantastic in this department! From taking in plays and apple orchards to city trips to see downtown Buffalo and the Albright Knox, there have been great opportunities. In high school, students are given the chance to go to Washington, D.C. There was even a European trip that occurred this past spring, for eligible students. While I am not sure what occurs with the older grades, our school’s PTA has provided financial assistance for some of these trips. Yes, our children have been fortunate!
Unfortunately, there are many districts that have nixed field trips from their curriculum. Whether it is because of financial constraints or philosophical ones, not all students get to experience the fun and learning rewards of a field trip. This is a true loss of experience for so many! For those who do get to take a field trip, the face of them may have changed. There has been a movement away from trips to cultural institutions, to ones that are more fun in nature and scope, i. e. an amusement park, a movie theatre. (Though I have seen the use of both fun types of trips for educational pursuits—physics studies, historical movies). Field trips are seen as a reward for hard work for some districts, as opposed as an increased chance to enhance and contribute to greater learning.
The educational website “Education Next” examines this issue in the article “The Educational Value of Field Trips.” It shares the results of a study that was done to measure the true value of field trips to enriching places ( museums, zoo, art galleries). In short, it found tremendous value for rural students and students of lesser economic means (but really all students) in building cultural savvy and appreciation for art, boosting critical-thinking skills, allowing students to increase historical empathy, and helping students display higher levels of tolerance. Whether it is a budget decision or a philosophical one that sees field trips as unnecessary frills, perhaps it is time for education leaders in Washington and Albany to really think again…..
Peaceful Sunsets on Buffalo’s Waterfront. © Lauer, 2014
This time of year, I vacillate between enjoying all the end of the school year activities and just wanting the year to be done. Our children’s performances and end of year fairs have been truly heartwarming and inspiring. The baseball games have been great weekly slices of Americana. There are numerous special days ahead of us. There are pending field trips to enjoy. The school’s field days will be upon us shortly. So will the end of year assemblies.
There are thoughts of what closely lies ahead. Our oldest will leave the elementary school (and the tears will form even before I can finish typing this sentence). Our youngest daughter will enter third grade and little boy wonder will start preschool- a little white lie about the tears. There’s a distinct pleasure in being retrospective and looking back on the year that has been. The growth, the maturing, the learning, have been remarkable for the three of them. I am retrospective and proud.
Yet, I also long for the summer schedule- the less hectic pace, fewer mornings scurrying around, and the chance to let things unfold more spontaneously and carefree. — These summer days that are in front of us, such a needed counterpoint to Common Core and the hectic pace of the school year- living too measured of days for little beings. Their main direction for right now should be stretching for the patch of sun they see, and gazing upon the blue sky , to wander under. Little beings are not meant to be overly scheduled for games, recitals, and weighed down by a glut of homework; they are not meant to be pushed, and prodded too hard, by the pace of the day.
Summer is a sweet time for gentle grazing. We are really to dig in and walk slow! Yes , please, this for awhile! —This sweet innocence, these young years, this right before me, in the dazzling warm, sun…