I first saw Debra-Lynn B. Hook's article, "There's Something to Be Said for Summer Vacation," in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, but apparently (and thankfully), her article ran nationwide. Hook, a mother of three, decries the push toward year 'round school. An excerpt:
My disdain...is built around the the concept of "academic achievement." Don't get me wrong. I support public education and every child having the opportunity to do well in school. What I do not support is academic achievement as the definition of childhood's success.
CNN also ran an interesting article this week, entitled, "ADHD: Who Makes the Diagnosis?" All too often, the article suggests, teachers are the ones who suggest a diagnosis of ADHD -- but only physicians are qualified to diagnose and treat the disease. Other conditions, such as depression or anxiety, can trigger similar sypmtoms but require a completely different approach. If you have a son in school, you owe it to him to learn as much as you can about ADHD; ADHD is most often diagnosed in boys and occassionally used as a catch-all diagnosis to describe boys who simply have a hard time sitting still in classroom settings.
In fact, if ADHD has ever been mentioned in relationship to your son, you deserve to know about a new study out of Duke University. As reported in the Sept. 2010 issue of Family Circle, Duke researchers strongly suggest re-assessing kids with ADHD every year. A different classroom dynamic, they say, may lesson symptoms. In fact, they found that one-third of kids with ADHD showed no trouble concentrating the following year.
Another longitudinal study suggests that personality is pretty well established by first grade. The 40-year-study, soon-to-be-reported in the the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, followed 2400 individuals from childhood to adulthood and found that "talkative youngsters tended to show interest in intellectual matters, speak fluently, try to control situations, and exhibit a high degree of intelligence as adults. Children who rated low to verbal fluency were observed as adults to seek advice, give up when faced with obstacles, and exhibit an awkward personal style."
Finally, Colin Mason's article, "Are Children The Enemy of Productivity?" expresses my experience perfectly. I have four kids, and the writing/parenting question I get most often is, "How in the world do you manage to write with all those kids around?" The logistical answer is that it's not always easy. The logistical answer includes a basement office, a shared parenting schedule and kids who know that "Mommy's doing an interview" means "stay out of my office!" But the full truth is that I wouldn't be writing without my kids. From Mason:
Children see things that we cannot see, they remind us of truths and insights that we long ago forgot. And they remind us that the greatest insights in the world were discovered not while ponderously meditating, but while delighting in the simple pleasures and pains of life...Children are a great blessing to grown-ups not simply because of the joy, the wonder, and the incredible privilege of caring for a young soul that they provide. Children are also a blessing because they are a kind of living alarm clock, telling us that it is time to wake up and seize the day.
That's the message, I think, that has gotten lost in our society's obsession with happiness. Children may or may not make us "happier," but they enhance our lives in myriad ways.