A few weeks ago we were watching Abbot Elementary. My older son loves the show. Some of the teachers remind them of the adults in his life either at school or his after-school program. Some are just silly. The episode was Fundraiser. In it, the kids sell chocolates to raise money to go to the Franklin Institute.
While watching, I realized that I have children in fourth and first grade and the concept of fundraising may be foreign to them. I’ve never taken a box of chocolates or a catalog of overpriced items to sell at work or share with friends and family. I remember SO. MANY. FUNDRAISERS. as a kid. Some were associated with Girl Scouts or our baseball teams, but mostly they were for school. They probably went to fund the extracurriculars like museum trips. I know we didn’t have great funding because I can recall at least once when our teachers picketed.
The kids have participated in fundraising events. They’ve helped out at bake sales and gladly bought items. The school has events like a winter fair or summer end of the year festival that doubles as a fundraiser for a fifth grade trip. We try to make those since it’s a fun thing to do and I like seeing them interact with their classmates since it’s rare.
But the kind of fundraising they did on Abbot Elementary? Nope.
This brought to mind other things about their schools that are very different than my own experience:
- Specials – I didn’t know about specials until I had friends with kids starting schools. They have dedicated music, art, and PE teachers. I remember doing all of these as a kid, but in elementary school I only had one teacher.
- Orchestra – starting in third grade, children can sign up to learn a string instrument. In my experience, we could sign up for a wind instrument in third (maybe fourth?) grade for the concert band.
- No letter grades – The kids get numbers that correspond to their progress, e.g., “4 = meets or exceeds grade level expectations”. I’m pretty sure I had letter grades and also had citizenship marks like O for outstanding, S for satisfactory and N for needs improvement.
- Limited homework – now that X is in fourth grade, he has some math and reading assignments each day. Prior to this, he rarely brought home assignments. I can’t remember how much homework I had.
- Enrichment activities – the school PTA offers after-school enrichment classes in things like learning about bugs or gaming club. There’s a cost, but the PTA subsides this activity. I don’t remember anything like this when I was a kid.
- Bus – The kids have been riding the bus since pre-k. I lived a block away and never rode the bus to/from school. Even for the kids who lived further away, I’m not sure my district offered buses to our school and for middle and high school, I got a ride from my mom or another parent who was part of our carpool.
- Class sizes – I remember having 30+ students in my classes. I don’t know how small my K-3 grade classes were, but the kids’ class sizes have always been under 20 students.
- Water bottles – Each fall we get a list of things the students should be taking to school daily. The water bottle is always a part of this.
I’m not even getting into technology, dressing for the cold weather, COVID protocols, and lockdown drills because all of that seems obvious and a sign of the times.