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We are over stretching and over stressing our kids!!

Original post made by Parent, Midtown, on Feb 11, 2007

We now have two tutoring services in midtown. I believe that the evidence from some of the recent threads, plus these two very busy tutoring services, that we are going overboard in preparing our kids for high stress levels in high school, if not younger. At the back to school night at Paly last fall, many teachers mentioned that they had a list of tutors if any parent wanted them. I assumed that this was for those who needed remedial help. I have since learned that in fact these tutors are for those who want to get further ahead of the class and get their grades and scores up to perfect levels easily. I also know from a friend of mine who is an ex-elementary teacher who does tutoring, that she is finding the same thing. She gets many students whose parents spend their kids after school hours getting classes for them instead of letting them pursue their own interests, just to get ahead. This is even down in the preschool level. These kids are dropped off with her, not by parents themselves, but by carpools, or taxi services, and they are expected to study for a couple of hours before being picked up to go elsewhere, often to something like music lessons rather than sports or other activities. They then have to do rigorous music practice as well as homework with the parents at home. What are we doing? Is this the norm? What will these kids be like as adults? Is this something that I am the only one observing, or are there others?

Are the school counsellors aware of this, and is there something that can be done to give our kids a normal childhood? My kids are bright, but I want their free time to be free for their own activities and down time. I do want them to do well in school, but when these highly motivated kids are becoming the norm, it is making my kids look bad. Is there any sense to this or am I over concerned.

Comments (6)

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Posted by Parent
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2007 at 1:14 pm

I meant to mention that with the talk of Gunn students cutting themselves, and also the possible trend, according to Little League, of less boys in the south trying out for baseball, that this could be something that is happening in the south and west schools, not just Paly which is where I have noticed it.

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Posted by palo alto parent
a resident of South of Midtown
on Feb 11, 2007 at 7:46 pm

We sent our kids (7th and 8th grade currently) for "enrichment" in 4th and 5th grade. Being comfortable with their studies caused them less stress. The regular school programs (spelling, vocabulary, math) were leaving them frustrated and the enjoyment of learning was being lost. I am sure the teachers are all wonderful, but it was very difficult for my kids to get the attention they needed. I did not enjoy paying the extra fees or spending the extra time for these classes, but in the end I felt it was a stress reducer for my kids. I wish my kids could have received everything they needed in the public school system, but it did not happen. Also, we've been in Little League for the past eight years.

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Posted by student
a resident of Gunn High School
on Feb 12, 2007 at 4:49 pm

The number of tutoring services in Palo Alto is sparse compared to other locations in the south bay. Ever been to Cupertino or Fremont? Along a two mile stretch on De Anza Boulevard there has to over forty businesses of SAT I/II prep centers, AP exam prep, cram classes, tutoring, college admissions, etc. Pick up a Chinese newspaper (e.g World Journal) and just browse the ads... dozens of prep class ads on each page!

In general, most of these centers act as complements to public education and help students to be better prepared for AP tests and SATs. I personally thought that some of these centers were superior to Palo Alto tutoring centers like Kaplan, Princteon Review, or Sylvan. For 3/4 the price of Princeton Review, I could receive almost twice the # of sessions.

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Posted by Walter_E_Wallis
a resident of Midtown
on Feb 14, 2007 at 7:19 pm

The companies are O.K., but Stanford student tutors have done real good to some I know.

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Posted by Andy Krackov
a resident of Downtown North
on Feb 16, 2007 at 6:55 am


Our foundation (the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, based in Palo Alto) recently released a survey of how Bay Area parents think their kids are faring, and I thought some of the results from that survey would be of interest to people reading this discussion. It was a wide-ranging survey, and we found that stress in Bay Area kids is among the top concerns of parents. That's true across the Bay Area, including in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties.

We also ask parents to identify the sources of stress in their kids, and academic issues, particularly the amount of work and the pressure to succeed, were labelled as the top two stressors.

The results are available online at Web Link

Andy Krackov
Senior Director of Public Information
The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health

Like this comment
Posted by A PERENT
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 5, 2007 at 9:03 pm


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