Monday, August 1, 2011

To Enrich or Not

Go to our local library on any day of the week and you will find table upon table filled with the following:

A student and a teacher.


Some of these children are getting the much needed help they need to catch up. Maybe even some of them are just maintaining the knowledge that they learned through the school year. But there is also something else going on at those tables.

It’s called enrichment and it probably accounts for about 50% of those tables. These children are getting additional work to push them ahead. They are most likely working on school based curriculum.

Every time I see this I think to myself:

“Maybe this is something we should be doing”
“Am I making the right choice by not doing enrichment?”
“These children are my child’s competition into school programs”

And each time I struggle with each of these thoughts.

And if it’s not at the library, it’s all around me. For the past two years I have organized the local “summer enrichment fair.” This fair attracts local companies offering their summer programs. Let me tell you that we have PLENTY around me. There are upwards of 50 that decide to attend our fair with many others that don’t. Not all of them are curriculum based, but many of them are. This fair attracts many families looking to further their kid’s education during the summer months.

For the past few years we have chosen the programs that are topic learning. In other words, my son has not taken a specific math or reading course. He has taken topics such as “ocean life, stand-up comedy, discovering earth science” and while there might have been some reading or math mixed in; it was not the primary focus and surely did not advance him in these areas by any means.

The question is how can my child “compete” against the enrichment summer kids when it comes to testing. I’m pretty sure that the official testing is not going to ask to name the top 10 deadliest fish. Because if it did? My son would clean up.

The summer is almost over. I’m not really looking for summer enrichment at this point. My son read over the summer but besides that? Not much else. I’m ok with that I really am. I think.

Third grade starts “official” testing for children to get into programs in school designed for the different levels of learning needs and I’m feeling the pressure.

Just today I stopped by a center that does math and reading enrichment. I picked up a packet. After last year, I know that the school is not really in the position to give my son the type of challenge or depth that he desires to have at school.

Am I ready to take some of this into my own hands? His ability to learn is impressive, his pace quick. What position am I going to put him in when he advances quickly out of school and yet has to sit in school and their pace? Am I just going to further and confirm his belief that school is boring?

Why can’t someone just answer these things for me?!

Oh, right. I’m the parent.
So that’s where I am.

I’d love to hear any views or opinions from parents who have made this decision and how it worked out for them.

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