Schools in California. Part-1

Awake at 6am. I pack five lots of lunches. Find five lots of shoes and over the next hour I grumble at five different kids.
First drop-off commences at 7.45am. The twins are delivered to their preschool. I return home for the eight year old. He makes the 8.15am drop-off in good time. I deliver my older preschooler to his school and I’ve got enough time to grab the groceries. The supermarket car-park is full. We start early in Aspirational California and everyone packs activities into every spare moment. I’m home by 9.06 to deliver Mr Six to the same elementary as his older brother. His start time is 9.15.

Five children delivered over three different schools.

The schooling system is quite different from New Zealand.¬† At elementary school, the start times are staggered for different grades and abilities so even if you have your children all at the same school, you’ll be constantly driving back and forward. Even within the same classroom you have children dropped at different times. Earlybirds start at 8.15am or 8.30am and latebirds start at 9.15am.

On Wednesdays it all changes and everyone starts at 8.30 I can never get used to this. I sometimes forget and let Mr Six watch TV for an extra half hour. Then I get the stink eye from the teacher for delivering him at 9am. After this happened a number of times, the school was kind enough to take the time to send me a “Tardy Notice” to alert me to the fact I am letting down the team. Americans are more compliant than Kiwis so they got a fright when I approached the teacher to tell her that the tardy system is rubbish.
I get the stink eye again.
Once, I delivered Mr 6 early at 8.55am. The earliest he should have been on the grounds is 9am to line up for class.¬† The principal emailed me directly to “advise” me that I would need to enroll my child in before school care if I was needing to drop him off early.
Tit. He’s the biggest bureaucrat in education I’ve ever met. He seems a very nice man but exhibits no passion for education and has plenty of vigor over enforcing rules and regulations.

I suspect this is what you eventually get when you cross National Standards with Unions.

There is a very narrow window of time to deliver your children to school. And it is never on the hour. At the end of the day my school aged children get out at 2.53pm and 3.02pm. I kid you not. Not a moment earlier. Not a moment later.

In New Zealand you park and chat to other parents while waiting for your kids to exit the classroom. Not so in America:

¬†You “Stop”, Drop”, and “Go”. You pull up to the designated carpool area. The kids climb out and run to class. At pick-up,¬† you pull up the teacher opens the door and they jump back in.

The American school system is harder on the parents but better tailored to children’s needs. The kids receive individual attention every day. I know after experiencing both that American kids are exposed to more material than in Kiwi schools. I suspect this element is what National is trying to adopt in the Kiwi education system with National Standards.
Conversely, it doesn’t mean that American children receive a better education. They learn a lot of facts. Grammer in depth. Homework is set every day. Children are tested every day so the teachers know exactly how they are performing.
But as you’ve probably guessed, there is not a lot of time for learning. Or for the spark of creativity and inspiration to be passed from teacher to child. The spark that will lodged in a child’s heart and propel them to succcess over the course of their lifetime.
This is where New Zealand schools excel. The task for New Zealand schools is to better monitor children’s progress, (WHY?)
In a very gross distortion of a famous physics treatise: When you observe an action or system, you as the observer have an influence on the outcome. AKA Schrodingers Cat

I am a firm believer that the more a child is noticed, the more they learn and grow. The worst thing you can do for a child is ignore them. You can yell like a banshee (don’t beat them).
A “good growling”, is a learning experience for kids but neglect will cause their brains to atrophy.

But what New Zealand must get right is the balance between monitoring progress and actual teaching.
 And Never Ever introduce a Tardy System. Sheesh. More about that later.

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