Tonight, my husband picked up my kids from preschool so I could get my eyebrows waxed at a nail salon (I can't believe I'm sharing this). In a back room, an aesthetician—whose daughter happens to go to Lawton—turned my bushy brows into skinny rainbows. With my new and improved look, I returned to the main area where ladies were enjoying manis and pedis—and two young children, sporting sweatshirts from a private school I won't name, sat in chairs getting foot massages. My "brow designer" whispered in my ear, "These children come for foot massages at least once a week." The boy and girl, who were probably about 10 years old, were doing their homework while women rubbed their tootsies. I didn't know what to make of the whole scene, and I'm still processing it—but I immediately recalled my first massage, which I got on my honeymoon in Costa Rica at 25 years old. And I thought, These kids are spoiled!
And then I kicked myself for being judgmental because things like massage and yoga are healthful and relaxing—and so zen. And then I tuned into the fact that these children were doing homework. I wondered, Are these kids so stressed out by homework that their parents have to pay for foot massages?
The most frequently asked question on my school tours is: What's your homework policy? Parents ask this again and again and again. They ask the parent guides leading groups through classrooms, and then they attack the teachers with the question. And then the principal and the assistant principal. I heard parents asking about homework at the enrollment fair. What's up with homework?
So far all the schools I've toured—both independent and public—have very light or no homework in kindergarten and first grade. There's only one exception? That's Alice Fong Yu, where every parent I've talked to has painted a picture of piles of homework. If my kids go there, I guess we'll be investing in a hot tub and yoga lessons and acupuncture. Gosh, I can't afford any of that. Maybe it's time to return to school to become a masseuse. (Please, excuse me while I poke a little fun at AFY, which happens to be my top choice public school these days. It's my way of dealing with the fact that I might not get in.)
Getting a little flustered by all this deep thought, I turned to my favorite place for information, The New York Times, to help me sort through the confusion.
Coincidentally, last week The Times ran an article titled: "Less homework, more yoga, from a principal who hates stress." The story by Sara Rimer focuses on high school, but it's still relevant. And so what am I thinking after reading it? Those kids getting foot rubs, they should have left their homework at home.