It’s probably a sign of my age that I can remember being assigned to clean the blackboard erasers.
Standing on the blacktop, clapping together the felted erasers and creating a massive cloud of dust was a cheap thrill that we all vied for. It made us feel very important. I probably lost some vital lung cells in the process, but there was a job to be done, and us young folks, we played a part. We were responsible for the cleaning of erasers so that messaging via chalk and blackboard, could continue. We had a SYSTEM.
Cut to the present. My son’s backpack is a morass of paper. Each Tuesday, transmittal day, we sort through an inch of ads, newsletters, flyers, art projects, assignments completed and incomplete. There is paperwork to review and be signed, there are order forms to fill out. There’s fundraising and FUN! activities.
Mixed in, crumpled at the bottom, there is homework. Sometimes. Along with a permission slip, science project instructions and an award notice. As frustrating as this mess is, it’s my best mess. This is the one that makes the most sense.
Tracking my children’s homework and school news has become a bit of a nightmare. All four of my kids are in separate schools, where each of them have multiple teachers for the multiple subjects they study.
In an effort to streamline and keep us in touch, the schools have set up websites with a variety of granular control. Some have a site for the class, and other for the entire grade, in which teachers get individual pages. This is in addition to the school websites where vital info like calendars and emergency contact information is stored.
There are private Facebook groups too, for photo sharing and more casual communication. Class parties and the like. Mailing lists for this too. G-d help the parent that accidentally deletes an email from the room mom.
In the High School there are two academic websites, with separate log ins, in addition to the general school site. One academic site is used for assignments and the other for grades. Each teacher has a different page for each class, on each site, and each teacher uses these systems in their own unique way. Some rely on curriculum outlines posted four years ago. Others update daily. You MUST check them all regularly.
Parents and kids have separate log ins. You should probably check both views if you really want to know what is going on. I’ve been advised of this on multiple occasions.
Enough already! In order to daily check in on my children’s assignments, fundraising and classroom activities, I have a total of 27 passwords. No joke. I counted.
It is not an exaggeration to suggest that I could easily spend my entire work day just logging in and out and checking these convenient information portals that have been created to make my parenting life so much easier.
Are you surprised to hear I often wish for an assistant or an intern to do this for me and compile a single spreadsheet?All the things I need to know in one place. I’m sure there’s an app being developed for that very purpose as I type.
So why don’t I just make it my kid’s responsibility? Despite best efforts to train them to use a planner, my children are slack in their ways, they do not record assignments with much reverence or concern because, after all – that information is all online and their parents can help them check it. Their teachers said so. They slack off, I slack off, we all lose. Nobody’s reaching their potential.
We are all in a cloud of dust. It may be virtual and a little easier on the lungs but it’s still harmful. It’s killing me.
Despite my best intentions and an earnest wish to succeed (for the kid’s sake and my own) I suck at this. I’ve got a “D” in school organization. Field trips sometimes creep up on me by surprise. I’m late to concerts. I’m short on glue sticks when they are needed for the huge project due tomorrow. I accidentally delete emails telling me which Barnes & Noble bookstore, three towns over, is the only one that has the book that my 7th grader need needs to purchase by Monday.
I miss the blackboard.
I don’t know the solution to this problem. Some tell me this, THIS is the real reason they home school. Or that they decided long ago that the solution was to have just have one kid, or at most 2. Others shrug and become resigned to being the slacker parent. Whatever.
A few Type-A moms that I know have quit their law practices and left their challenging careers behind in order to excel at creating family Excel spreadsheets. They unanimously report: “This sh*t is much harder”