Is your child suffering from schoolitis?
Observe your child carefully. Does he have trouble reading even simple materials? Does he struggle with elementary arithmetic? Does your child seem to be learning very little basic knowledge? Is your child anxious and unhappy? Is he reluctant to go to school, to the point where he seems to be sick a lot? Uh-oh: your child has it bad. Schoolitis.
Remember that excitement and optimism when you child first went off to school? Everyone just assumed that children can quickly learn to read, write, and the rest. And it's true that children are designed to learn. But bizarrely enough, our public schools seem designed to make learning impossible. One by one, the lights go out.
Here is a checklist to determine how bad a case of schoolitis your child has:
1) Children should learn to read in the first grade, and be selecting their own books to read by the second grade. This is the gold standard. Anything less means that your school has neglected phonics, and you need to get very involved. Whole Language and Balanced Literacy all by themselves can give a child a dreadful case of schoolitis. To head off these problems, start teaching reading early, before they start school. ("54: Preemptive Reading" might help.)
2) Children should learn to add and subtract in the first few grades. They should be multiplying and dividing by the fourth grade. They should understand fractions and decimals by the sixth grade. Anything less means you're watching educational malpractice take place before your eyes. Reform Math, in all its variations, tends to confuse children and kill off any interest in math. Reform Math is a carrier of schoolitis. Start complaining.
3) Your child should be memorizing basic information, such as the days of the week, how many feet in a yard, how many quarts in a gallon, how many weeks in a year, and multiplication tables. Has your child memorized even a single fact? If not, you can expect severe schoolitis. Learning simple facts prepares a child to learn more complex information. This process gives confidence and satisfaction. But if a child never memorizes anything -- never knows what's up and what is down, so to speak -- that child will always be perplexed and lacking in confidence.
4) Your child should be learning the basic details of geography and history. This is so easy to test. Show your child a map of the world and say, "Point to Europe...the Pacific Ocean...the North Pole." Ask the simplest questions possible. If your child does not know the answers, that means the child has learned nothing. Quite often these days, schools use a method called Constructivism or Discovery. Teachers are called "facilitators," which means they stand aside. Children are somehow supposed to know which important information to learn. Of course, they don't. And their education stalls. Schoolitis sets in.
5) Your child should be learning general science. Again, it's easy to find out if a child knows the simplest things. What is snow made of? What is a planet? What is the equator? Again, not having any foundational knowledge freezes everything. There is no progress, no development, no building one stone upon another. That feeling of standing still, of accomplishing absolutely nothing week after week -- that's the essential cause of schoolitis.
6) Your child should be learning to think, act, and create independently. Many schools force children to work continuously with a group. They get used to being part of a lump, a blob. Their own personalities, interests, and discoveries become blurred and lost. If you don't have a sense of yourself, how can you have any sense of yourself becoming a better self? Again, without that sense of improvement, you invariably will feel seized by schoolitis.
Periodically, grade your child according to this checklist. Prevent schoolitis.
Bruce Deitrick Price explains education theories and methods on his site Improve-Education.org.