School these days means so much more than academics. There are sports teams and clubs, concerts and art shows. Our middle schools focus on preparing our kids for high school, and our high schools focus on college admission. There’s the SAT, SATII’s ACT’s. It seems throughout their academic careers, kids are always looking ahead to the next step, at least they are supposed to be. Often our kids are over-scheduled and overworked, or so it seems. We encourage our academically inclined students to push harder. There are honors classes and advanced placement courses to earn credit for college. We are sometime left asking ourselves, “is the pressure too much, are we pushing too hard?” How do we know? In comparison to students in other countries, on average American students attend less days of school for less hours than students in many of the Asian and Slavic nations.
What if your teen is not academically inclined, what if school just isn’t his thing? Should you still be pushing or let it be? These are difficult questions. It is even more difficult to watch your child struggle to keep up or fight to keep ahead. While the pressure may have become more intense for our kids, they certainly have more learning tools available. Going to the library to complete a research paper is no longer a requirement. The miracle of the world wide web offers our kids an opportunity to learn about the world in a way we probably never even dreamed of. Understanding the Dewey decimal system now seems like a lost art.
So how much is too much? It is hard to say. Maybe it is not what they have do but how they approach it that presents the real challenge.
I think it all depends on the type of parent you are and what you value. It may be that you had a rocky road to where you finally ended up and can empathize, so you put emphasis on academia or do you think having great personal skills is more important. I think how we were brought up affects they way we push or not push our children – do we want them to do better than or do we feel that we were harmed by being pushed?