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Monday, September 7, 2015


Returning a child to school these days involves a tree’s worth of paperwork. It is good the initial ten pages with basic information now come home in preprinted form, asking me to only make corrections. Ten pages is no exaggeration; each child is documented down to medications and third and fourth alternate adults who may remove the child from school.

Then come dribbling home individual teacher missives, telling me what my child will be taught that year, how often the teacher will be in contact with me by email, reminding me of assignments due from my child, and generally including a “contract” for the year, pledging among all of us to be in our best learning mode and behaving always appropriately, to be signed by both my child and myself.

Have your toes curled yet?

Emily brought home two more forms to go back tomorrow. One is to participate in a research study being conducted by a Dr. of her subject and a recent graduate of Emily’s school, now at Kent State University. Its title is “Teaching and Learning Experiences in a Service Learning Classroom.”  

Part of the curriculum of Emily’s high school is community service, and she is participating in hers by assisting in an elementary school class room two days a week.  The study seems a little hokey to me, but, then, I’m not the expert; the form will go back, signed.

The top form is one on which I can have an opinion, and it is a mixture of howling laughter and complete disgust. I cannot imagine such a missive in the hands of my parents back in 1960. Actually, I would have been ashamed to give it to my father, who scrabbled together enough money in the thirties to give himself two years of college education, crammed into the space of twelve months. He ran out of money and went back to work.

My parents were willing to send me to college; being accepted into a college was up to me. I asked several teachers for letters of recommendation to enclose with my application and my essay, and that was the end.  There was an application fee even back then, and my mother wrote out the check with her pearl handled pen and gave it to me for the envelope.

I don’t know why this request bothers me so, but it does. Perhaps I could ignore it, but Emily, and the school, expect it back. What happens? I envision form letters spewed out, my adjectives, adverbs and even paragraphs, inserted at appropriate places. Are teachers no less observant now than fifty odd years ago? Do they draw the grades they assign from a bingo cage, having never observed the student? Of course not.

What great educational principle have I missed in the years since I started college that I have this piece of paper on my desk, to fill out and return?


  1. I have not received a single piece of paper from the school this year. It has all been done on-line. We are so sophisticated (not)! That piece of paper would have irritated me as well. I think I would send it back blank and tell them it is their job to write their own thoughts on my child's college app. But then again they probably wouldn't!!

  2. I noticed that when my children were in school the school was more interested in what I was willing to teach my children than in what they were supposed to teach my children. I do not believe in homework except in extraordinary assignments. I had a good education and hardly ever had homework. I had to teach each of my children to read because they did not learn it at school for some reason. Perhaps if the schools were less concerned with superfluous paperwork and concentrated more on teaching our children there would be fewer questions about why the testing scores are so low.

  3. Hari OM
    before I even got to your concerns I was already thinking "none of this happened when I was at school - I'm sure!' The occasional permission form I suppose, parent teacher stuff, but nothing of this nature. There's good in it, some not so good in it. I am glad I don't have to face it... YAM xx

  4. British teachers are always complaining about their paperwork (with good reason) and it sounds as if you are having to deal with more than your fair share there too.

  5. Oh dear.
    Death, taxes and paperwork appear to be inevitable. Parent's Bragsheet? I shudder to think what my parents would have done with that one...

  6. It has changed a lot, because I have no grandchildren I've lost track of how schools work.
    A few permission notes and why you weren't at school was about all I had to provide for my children.

  7. A different take on that 'brag sheet'--It's a new world of college applications, and (depending on where a student wants to go) it can be pretty cutthroat. I'd like to think the counseling office wants to give the students applying to highly selective colleges every edge, even if that means dragging the parents/guardians into the process.

    It's a shame, though, they have to use a one-size-fits-all process and make everyone complete the form.

  8. In this computer age, I am surprised that these forms could not be filled out on-line. That Bragging sheet seems a little over the top, but with the competitive nature of things today, I think it could be something that the school thought could help the student get into college.

    I used to hate filling out all those forms that my children came home with every year. It is one of those annoyances that we have to do or the kids would get in trouble.

  9. I remember the forms having to be filled out; don't miss that indeed! I too would be uncomfortable with the parent brag sheet to fill out. Are they trying to make their letter writing easier for recommendation letters to draw from the parents' list rather than come up with their own?


  10. it's been about 20 years since my kids were in elementary school but i always hated those assignments where the kids had to give an account of their summer activities and the same thing throughout the year. it was like they were using the kids to evaluate what the parents were up to.

  11. Our great-granddaughter is nearly 4 years old... she began school (Montessori) a couple of weeks ago so has many, many years of this kind of paperwork ahead of her in the years to come. I can only say that the joy she has of going to school is worth all the stress and aggravation of the paperwork (I can only hope this joy remains with her in the coming years). But I can't even imagine my parents filling out such forms... my mom would probably have told me to fill it out and she'd check it over and sign it when I was done ;-)

  12. Hmmm...that woudl annoy me as well.

    When I went to school, my parents participation consisted of every night being asked "Did you do your homework?" THere were only two answers, and the wrong one would not be well received.

  13. My mother did not fill out reams of paperwork when we went back to school each August. She didn't hear from our teachers. We were responsible for our homework. It had nothing to do with our parents. I hated all the crap that went along with sending my kids to school. I should have locked them in the attic. Perhaps the brag sheet is intended for counselors to assist students in finding the schools that will suit them the best, and where they are likely to be accepted. I don't know. If I'd had to fill out brag sheets on my children, then I probably would have written ridiculous things about them. They climb mountains hand in hand. They sing duets and play their musical instruments together. They enjoy frequent discussions of classic literature. They've never had a fight. Ha!


  14. The Parent Brag Sheet seems like a waste of paper to me; some parents might write truthful good things, others might make their children appear to be angelic geniuses who are always (ALWAYS) respectful, helpful polite and never miss an assignment.
    When I went to school I was enrolled and after that just had to keep turning up each day. The only paperwork was a book list of what we needed, the school provided the text books and stationery and Dad just had to send the money. As I recall, he never did.

  15. I guess they're saving time when parents threaten to sue them for misrepresenting the children.......

  16. I guess they're saving time when parents threaten to sue them for misrepresenting the children.......

  17. That Brag sheet is awful ! Imagine what some parents could write ?!

    Jess & Joe's school had three Academic review days a year. We had to attend a meeting for discussions and set targets.
    One year I wrote a comment that the teacher leading the review with my child had never even taught her. After that we ALWAYS had someone who actually knew both children & their difficulties with dyslexia.

    Some children used the day as a day off school !

  18. Ughhh - the new paradigm of helicopter parenting makes me crazy!

  19. So,the days of turning up at school with a satchel and new pencil case,and the teachers getting on with teaching have long gone?
    Jane x

  20. all of that paper work is so dreary, isn't it? Ridiculous.

  21. Ah the dreaded paperwork Joanne - it is just the same over here and one wonders who actually reads it all once it is sent back. Also how many trees have been chopped down in the making of that paper.

  22. Hello,

    Life was less complicated in my younger days. My father had to fill in only one page in school and three pages for college. These pages were filled up by me and he only had to sign. As simple as all that. My father never met the class teacher except once because I misbehaved in the class. My parents never knew what was happening to me in school or college.

    Perhaps schools and colleges these days are less trusting and therefore they want more information from the parents. It appears they want the parents to shoulder more responsibility in educating the children.

    Times have really changed and we have to move with the times or we will get left out.

    Interesting post.

    Best wishes

  23. I hate forms - the internet has helped a little with easing the pain of filling them in. Only asking you to make corrections is a better approach than refilling in all the info over and over every time.

  24. I can't imagine a person less qualified to fill that out than a parent. I would have been truly stumped. I was too busy trying to raise my kids and trying to run my business. and what parent could really be objective? my kids were both perfect.