Thursday, Sept. 09, 2004 | 8:50 a.m.
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Last night I went to my first PTO meeting. The meetings in Bloomington were frequently held during the day, which wasn't really conducive to a working mother's attendance, so I didn't go. Mostly, the meeting was about fundraising, which I gather Patterson Elementary does very well.
There was an issue brought up that I'm still sitting with, not sure how I want to approach it. Apparently tardies (of the unexcused variety) are a real problem at school. Late kids interrupt the classroom, I get that. Two suggestions were made -- one to reward individual kids who show up on time by giving them some kind of currency to buy goodies (like pencils, folders, etc.). The other was to reward classes who have the least amount of tardies. I like the first idea because it awards the individual on their own merit. I think the incentive is there, but it puts the responsibility for each child on themselves, not on their peers. What bothers me most about the second option is children who are perpetually late for reasons that are beyond their control.
Now I realize that most kids DO have control over their tardiness. I've seen the kids who play on the way to school, ignoring the bells, etc. I know this incentive program is mostly aimed at them. But I'm thinking of the kids whose parents have issues, whose parents are responsible for their tardiness and wondering how that kind of pressure might affect them. Would they be picked on because they were responsible for a class not winning the prize? If they did try to pressure their parents, would it cause trouble for them at home?
I guess it really boils down to me thinking individual rewards for individual behavior is more healthy. Kids are not their parents' keepers, and in some cases, trying to make them so might exacerbate an already bad situation at home. If adults want to take on recalcitrant parents, fine, but do it directly, not through their kids.
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