I spent three hours last night sorting, labeling, and organizing school supplies for my older son's first day in middle school. I had a two page list of supplies, organized by subject...English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Home & Careers, Health, Spanish.
Conspicuously absent from his schedule were Art, Music, and Technology. Apparently they get only a half year of each of "exploratory areas," so in January Home & Careers and Health will be replaced by Art and Music. I really don't like that this means he has no classes focused on non-text creativity for the next 4-5 months. Even worse, however, was the discovery that seventh graders at his school have no instruction in technology or computers. They use computers in some classes, apparently, via "mobile labs" of laptop carts that teachers can requisition. But that's not the same as learning about technology. For my kids, that's not a big deal, since they get so much informal instruction at home. But I know that's not true of all their friends, and I'm less than enthusiastic about the curriculum that it looks like he's locked into.
Why aren't we homeschooling again this year? (Regular readers know that we homeschooled both the kids last year in Seattle.) One reason: they don't want to. They missed their friends terribly, and for them school is all about the social networks. The "learning" is a necessary evil they have to suffer through in order to bond with their peers.
At any rate, the supplies. As my gamer friends might say, OMFG! Three 2" binders, four 1" binders, 2 notebooks, 3 folders, black pens, red pens, markers, colored pencils, highlighters, white board markers (wtf?? the kids have to supply these??), erasers, two rulers, a scientific calculator, book covers, post-it notes, graph paper, lined paper...and I'm sure I'm leaving stuff off. Gerald bought the supplies last week, and I sat down last night to label and stuff binders (Science? That one needs highlighters and markers and a notebook with a 2" binder. Math? One of each size binder, a calculator, the graph paper, a ruler, pencils.) Even after the bags of stuff he'd bought, we turned out to be missing key items ("The colored pencils! Where are the colored pencils?!?"), so he headed out to Target at 9pm. I kept working on prepping items, calling him every ten minutes or so with another missing item. ("Oh, crap, there's no cartridge for the label printer!" "Hmmm, maybe we need some of those pencil/pen bags that snap right into the binders.")
Did I mention that this took three hours?
At any rate, when we were done we'd filled his backpack with the 1" binders, single subject notebooks, and loose items (pens, pencils, kleenex, etc), and filled a second canvas totebag with the 3" binders and his summer homework. (If I get permission from him, I'll post it here--it's fabulous.)
How all that will fit in his locker is beyond me. Gerald bought a locker shelf unit that Lane put into his locker this summer on "visitation day" at the school, and I'm hoping it's sturdy enough to hold up under all that crap.
My stepdaughter, who's now living with us (yay!) watched in disbelief as all this went on (and helpfully offered me a drink midway through :), asked "What do the poor kids do?" Good question. We didn't shop the sales this year (usually I'm obsessive about sale flyers and comparison shopping), so we spent close to $200 on supplies for the two kids. That's insane. But even with the best shopping habits, I don't see how you could fill all the requirements on that list for under $100. Ridiculous.
Okay, rant done. Hopefully they'll both have wonderful first days back in school. I teach 'til 6, so I won't be there when they get off their buses, but I'm looking forward to hearing about it over dinner.