By Dan Y, 8th Grader
Parents commonly say, “I wish I was a kid again.” Many kids don’t understand why adults say this. Parents don’t have to go to school, they don’t have to study for tests, they don’t get grades. What most kids don’t understand until they’re older is how much more stressful it can be being an adult as opposed being a kid. Kids stress themselves out too much trying to get good grades, or trying to get better in sports. Many kids take their childhood for granted, and they regret it when they are older.
Middle school is a time leading up to high school; it is not meant to be very stressful. Middle school teaches kids how to manage their workload, and succeed in school, but how a student does in middle school is not going to affect the rest of their life forever. As kids get older and older, it is understandable that they have more stress; however, kids14 years old and younger shouldn’t be worrying about anything too much. Kids need to know that when applying for a job, or trying to get into college, nobody is going to look at how you did on an 8th grade midterm, yet kids torture themselves trying to do well on it.
Lots of kids are perfectionists, especially kids that go to schools that are more academically challenging. These schools, including MKA, expect more out of their students, which makes some students not want to stop until whatever they are doing is perfect. This may seem like a good thing, but it can actually be a really bad thing. This is because perfectionists sometimes make things a lot harder then they need to be. For example, if a student who is a perfectionist is given an open-ended assignment, which means an assignment without strict guidelines, the perfectionist may work on the assignment much longer and harder than the teacher intended. If the perfectionist student does this for even two subjects at a time, he could already be doing 4 hours of homework in just these two subjects. This gives the student stress and anxiety. If addition to the schoolwork the student has even has one outside activity, like a sport or an instrument, this could push them over the edge. Kids who are stressed and have anxiety don’t perform well in anything. After doing homework for too long, it becomes counterproductive for the student; no student is doing his best work on his fifth hour of homework.
Parents, teachers and students all need to be in agreement as to the correct balance of schoolwork, extra-curricular activities and free time. Kids in middle school need to have down time where they can relax, or play, or do what they want. This balance can be hard to find. Teachers need to do their part by making sure the work that they are giving is fair: a reasonable amount of homework and projects/tests/quizzes that don’t coincide with other subjects. Part of a parent’s job is to know what type of student their child is. Some students do need to be pushed to do more work, but others may need to be pulled away from doing too much work. Students need to decide with parents and teachers what the correct balance of school work, sports and other activities is, so that they can have a schedule where they’re able to succeed in all aspects of their lives.
Roughly 60% of 32 eighth grade MKA students surveyed felt that they do not have enough time to socialize and relax due to schoolwork and other outside commitments. This is unacceptable. These 60% of students do not currently have a good balance in their lives. Out of these thirty-two students, half of them do over three hours of homework on average every night. This is too much work for kids in middle school to be doing; these kids also don’t have a good balance in their lives. This is a problem that needs to be addressed, because the situation will only get worse as responsibilities increase in high school and college.