Adoption and Family,  family,  Health

Hands Off My Child’s Weight – For The Last Time

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A lot of people followed my story of scales in schools. Last Friday I posted about my daughter, 10, in grade five and an insensitive assignment in which a scale was in her class and kids were weighed. My daughter went first. She was picked to go first and comments were made by others about her size and weight. She came home very upset.
Anyways part of my weekend was then spent trying to fix that problem and get to the root of what happened. The issue was resolved yesterday morning when the teacher, whom I believe to be a very good teacher, finally connected with me and we agreed the weight portion of the assignment should be dropped. For the record I also believe my daughter’s school to be a very good school. If I did not, she wouldn’t be there.
I felt the resolution was fair on this particular issue of weight and inappropriate assignments. I also had been trying to get the principal on this issue and that was as far as it went.I didn’t start hounding the superintendent of schools or trustees or any of that. Although many of you did think that was the route to take. The issue for my child’s class was resolved.
(As well worth noting is that the teacher did provide me a way to reach him outside of class if I have a concern – that was one of my concerns because frankly my child was truly not wanting to return to school. So very kind that the teacher took that step.)
It was meant to be a math assignment and he wanted hard data for them to compare. It was also meant to be privately written in the individual books. I still believe private, public or somewhere in between in a class with 27 kids there is no way to keep all your stuff private from others. My daughter was clear that comments were made – not by the teacher- but by others about her size and the teacher confirmed that yesterday. The teacher also said the boys who made the comments were disciplined. I still say it shouldn’t have happened in the first place. There are hundreds of other ways to do that assignment. Weigh backpacks. Measure feet.
The post last weekend sparked a lot of outrage on twitter, facebook and various other social media sites. Some people were advocating that I remove my child from the school. Some were really mad at the teacher. Some disagreed. Many were upset for my daughter, as was I. Some people forwarded the posts to a radio station and yesterday morning 570 NEWS called me for an interview. So I did it the interview for several reasons: Teachers should think through assignments before they dish them out. Weight doesn’t belong in the classroom.We are all growing strong kids and hopefully healthy kids. There is no reason for an assignment to make a kid feel crappy. Bullying is an epidemic and really, we should be looking at many supportive ways of systemically changing that. Bullies don’t need extra ammunition. And the flip side of that is stressed out, anxious, scared, nervous worried kids don’t learn. They are too busy sitting in the classroom feeling as if they need to be in survival mode. Schools should be safe places first and foremost, above all else.
I still see this whole thing as part of a bigger issue. You may disagree. I respect other opinions. I think boards and even government ministries need to look at insensitive assignments that make kids feel stressed out over differences. Our differences make us unique and stronger, but they also give other kids something to target.
That assignment that you gave out about eye colour and genetics just reminded Troy that he is being raised by his grandmother not his mom and dad. The baby picture you asked every student to bring in reminded Jim that he doesn’t have one because he was in four foster homes before he turned five and the pix were lost. Even Mother’s Day and Father’s Day cards – which we love getting – should be thought about hard. There are many kids these days living with just Dad or two Dads, two Moms, or in foster care. I can guarantee that many of those kids already feel more stressed out and self conscious around the time of those celebrations. Family trees. Heritage assignments. Time lines. Think them through. Change them, drop them, provide other options.
Anyways for now our issue with this weight assignment is resolved. Thanks for all your brilliant comments, ideas, suggestions.
Can you think of any school assignments that you feel should be changed, rethought or taken off the curriculum in schools?

Mom of two beautiful active girls, traveller, fitness junkie, social media consultant, and keeper of the sanity.

2 Comments

  • Anonymous

    The one thing I find more and more, is homework assignments where students need to use the internet and print out articles from the internet.

    What bothers me is the asumption that all students have these available at home. The students without these can feel the impact. What can they do? Even my own sister doesn’t have internet, not because it is too expensive for her, but because where she lives she can’t get it. She also has no cable and with the new digital tv signals, she can’t watch TV just DVD’s.

  • Jennifer-Eighty MPH Mom

    Paula, I am just now seeing this whole weight issue and I would be livid too. My daughter when she was that age, was overweight (and really short), and that assignment would have been devastating for her. She grew out of it a couple of years later, and many kids do. Regardless, so many are suffering from low self-esteem and weighing in school is ridiculous and embarrassing. I would have been stewing all weekend long, and would have gone directly to the teacher and principal first thing Monday morning as well. That’s good they are taking the weight portion off, for future classes, but what about your daughter? They should have thought long and hard about this assignment!