High School Is Way Too Hard for Kids


school today is too hardThis weekend some friends were at our house and I overheard a conversation between two 30-somethings and my daughter, age 5. It went a little like this: Them: "How's kindergarten?" My daughter: "Hard." Naturally we all turned and looked at my 5-year-old and recounted how awesome kindergarten was, for us. She later explained that kindergarten is way harder than pre-school because she has a schedule and she has to do things like math, writing, and other things -- on a schedule. Clearly it was the schedule that was getting to her, but it reminded me that my own kindergarten experience was much, much different. I was eating paste and trying to learn how to tie my shoes. Maybe learning the pledge of allegiance, unless that came in first grade.

Then I had a conversation with a 15-year-old in our neighborhood, who goes to a school that it's quite possible my own kids will attend, and now I'm totally freaking out.

This teenager explained her schedule like this: Home by 4 p.m., snack & study until dinner. Have dinner, study for a few more hours before bed. She does this every week night. And this particular weekend, she was taking a couple hour break from studying, then going right back home to study some more on a Saturday night. Really???

I will admit that I did not have the most challenging education experience. I was a bright kid who didn't have to study more than once a week for maybe an hour. Classes I didn't enjoy, like science and math, I attempted to study more often, but usually didn't. I also know for a fact there weren't any kids in my same class who were putting in hours like this teenager. Even the not-so-bright. (Which, incidentally, this young lady is not. She's taking Honors and AP classes.)

When did studying become a full-time job? When did kindergartners start realizing there are things like "schedules" and being annoyed by them? As someone who truly values education, I fear that I still don't have the stomach to make sure my kids are studying for hours every single night. I know I have bright kids, who also happen to love to learn. But I also loved to learn, yet I spent more time with my boom box and my Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books than I did cracking open my chemistry text. How do I inspire my own kids to buckle down, when I kind of think that much work for a kid is bullshit?

Maybe I am (and my husband, who is totally with me on this) just a Gen X slacker who doesn't value hard work. But both of us have done fairly well for ourselves in our respective fields, and we did not spend hours hitting the books in high school, Jr. high, and not even once in grade school. Yet, that seems to be the norm today.

Even though I think it's an odd observation, I don't have any sympathy for my kindergartner who is having a tough time with a schedule. She's going to have to learn that's the way things work eventually. But I really don't want my kids to turn into study zombies in a few years. Maybe this will work against them, but I just don't get it. Isn't there time for that kind of craziness? Like finals and getting your advanced degree?

Does the intensity of our kid's school work freak you out too?


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douxm... douxmusique

Noi feel like every school my kids have been to (three before 3rd grade thanks to military moves) could have been way more intense. I feel like my kids are bot being challenged at all.

nonmember avatar blue

Really? High School was a joke for me. (I'm pretty young, it was not too long ago!) I NEVER had to study more then 30 minutes a night, and I was in accelerated classes. I didn't know anyone who really struggled with high school, or had to put much effort into studying. Incidentally, I was in one of the best school districts in the state.

Rhond... RhondaVeggie

We had hours of work when I was in HS too. I was near the top of my class but I still had to spend at least three or more hours a night doing homework. Even if each teacher just gives you half an hour of work that eats up most of the evening.

Kari Fuller

I didn't notice any extra work in Kindergarten with my oldest two kids, but with #3 we were stationed in Colorado and the first week of school we were given the schedule for homework for the year and the first thing I noticed was that each child had one major project due each month that included a visual and oral presentation as well as a short paper....in KINDERGARTEN! These projects were very intensive and also expensive so after the first couple of months I turned to having my daughter create posters and then got the dreaded email from the teacher about how our "family effort" was low. She promptly got an email back explaining that one, my husband was deployed and I was functioning as a single working mother, two, these projects were done by my daughter and she was proud of them and 3, I didn't have public speaking until after 7th grade! I continued with our poster plan and it worked for the year. Now that the kids are older I am becoming more and more concerned about the amount of homework. Their dad is back in college and doesn't have as much!

Amanda Ricketts

The teenager you speak of is taking AP and Honors courses... of course she studies every night! Gotta make the grade in those advanced classes. I went to school with kids like this: they graduated valedictorian; the stereotypical over-achievers...

I graduated in '99.  I didn't study every night, I had one AP class my junior year; I took Debate and Forensics... eh, I spent alot of time goofing off, like most teens do.  I can't believe that it is much different today. I got through it.  8 years later I got my BSN, graduated with honors and was in the top 6 in my nursing class and passed RN boards on the first try with minimum questions (and yes, that is impressive).  So not being an over-achiever in high school didn't really set me back.

Ask a teenager who doesn't have AP/Honors classes if they study every single night for hours on end... I'll bet they don't.

Mama2... Mama2MonkeyBoys

I guess I'm of the opinion that it's ok to expect a lot from our kids.

I'm 26, and in Kindergarten, we learned addition and subtraction, said the Pledge of Allegiance every day, and performed plays for the rest of the school - memorized. That's just what I remember.

Kindergarten isn't supposed to be about socializing and eating paste. It's school. School is for learning. And Kindergarten is where you learn what is going to be expected of you when you get into 1st grade and beyond.

The problem is, too many parents don't believe school should be hard. Well, here's news for you: The real world is hard. The sooner we start preparing our kids for that, the better off they'll be.

The more we keep complaining about how "much" we're expecting from our kids, the more high school dropouts and underachievers we'll have. If you want your kids to succeed, you have to push them. You have to expect excellence. You have to teach them about work ethic, and sacrifice.

ashja ashja

"Way too hard?" Yes, by all means, let's dumb it down so we can get more of this grammar-optional writing...

momto... momtolittleg

Mama2monkeyboys, I couldn't have said it better myself!  As a teacher, I agree with you100%.

Momma... MommaGreenhalge

I'm torn on this.  I suppose it depends on why they are having to work so hard.  Is it so they can learn how to pass a standardized test and promptly forget it all?  Or are they learning things of value in a way that will stick with them?  This is one reasons I am leaning toward homeschool.  The things I remember from my classes are things that we learned by experience, not by studying.  The skit we had to write and perform in French class still sticks with me, as well as La Marseillaise (en francais, of course!).  But the formulae I learned in Algebra are long gone.  I learned a lot about Louisiana History and how state government works because my parents took a friend and I to visit the capitol one day (I later did the same thing in Florida, lobbying for a cause I was a part of).  I don't think extra studying really teaches anything except how to study.  Which is useful for high school and college.  But with the exception of a few professions, will not matter much into adulthood.  On the other hand, most people will have to use people skills and know how to deal with people of all different ages and walks of life in their careers. 

I'm not opposed to hard work and expecting  a lot out of teenagers.  But I guess I question the reasoning behind it in most school situations.

heave... heavencarlson

As someone who just graduated in 2010 (my hubby graduated in 2009) let me tell you, high school is NOT too hard at all! Taking all the required classes I breezed right through high school with a 3.2 GPA. I never studied outside of school and homework was maybe 4 hours a week, if that. I had plenty of time to have a job and hang out with my friends and do whatever I wanted and it never interfered with school. Of course she is going to be studying a lot more with honors and AP classes but it sounds like she's doing it by choice. School nowadays is a joke, if anything it should be harder.

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