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Is your school giving your child ADD symptoms?

January 29, 2012

Have you ever been told your child is “disorganized” or is sometimes unprepared for class? Do you sometimes see zeroes for work you thought was done, but wasn’t collected? Ask about your school’s backpack and locker policies. They may be part of the problem.

I recently learned our middle school has a no-backpack rule. Students may carry a backpack to school, but are not allowed to bring it to classrooms or in the hallways.

There’s also a no-locker rule. Students are only allowed to access their lockers once before the first class, once before lunch, and once again at dismissal. So basically, no locker access between classes.

Just imagine your anxiety at work if someone took away your carry bag and whatever electronic thingy you use for scheduling. […]

It seems students are required to juggle an ever-changing assortment of loose objects on the way to and from each class. I can’t imagine how students successfully manage the multiple transitions. I suppose many of them don’t.

And then combine that with block scheduling, which shuffles students in and out of classrooms like a French bedroom farce. Homework skips days, then clusters together all on one horrible night. Sometimes assignments are due on days when that class doesn’t even meet, and you wish your child hadn’t stayed up late to finish it. SunGard claims HAC can handle block scheduling, but HAC still shows the obsolete schedule. It is amazing our children can remember to bring their heads to class.

You can send them off to school with supplies and completed assignments in their backpack, but don’t assume they can get to them during the day. When I went to high school my backpack stayed with me. I practically lived out of it. It was the only way I could stay organized!

Oddly though, I could not find the no-backpack rule in any school or district policies. It seems to be an oral tradition, not an actual policy. Oh well.

It was explained to me that the no-backpack rule was put in place to help keep out weapons and other contraband, following several incidents in other schools in Delaware (which I vaguely remember in the news a few years ago). I guess that makes sense; it is probably better than metal detectors and drug-sniffing dogs.

If that’s the policy though, as an unintended consequence we must learn to accept a certain inevitable amount of misplaced books, supplies, or assignments. When you take away the tools for organization, disorganization is a strong possibility. Grade penalties for losing or forgetting things are unacceptable under these conditions. Many thanks to the teachers who bend the rules and allow students to retrieve necessary items from their lockers.

So if you start hearing your child is disorganized or unprepared, or you start seeing assignments not turned in, see if you can’t trace the problem back to school policies before you assume the problem is with your child.

How about your school – what’s your backpack and locker policy? Has block scheduling visited you yet?

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