Core curriculum. Whether for it, against it, or indifferent, these two words evoke both trepidation and anxiety for most parents.

From the very first day of this school year, my children have been immersed in core curriculum. Meetings after meetings are held in school to help the parents understand and prepare their children for this new way of “learning.” I do not exactly know how I feel about this new type of school programming, but I do know that I am a bit taken back by how much work is given to these young kids. School has definitely changed from yesteryear when 1st grade was the very first introduction to any type of “work.” My daughter is in 1st grade now, and we are completing homework for three hours every night. Her homework consists of reading, writing, language arts, math, spelling, and vocabulary. After a homework session, I am ready for bed!

My sweet little daughter (all 35 pounds of her) had a math test last week. She was immensely stressed the morning of the test, even though I reassured her that it would be fine. When she came out a school that day, beaming with pride in herself and confidence from doing well, I was so excited for her to feel that sense of accomplishment. When I put her to bed that night, she revealed the anxiety that proceeded the test.

“Mommy, I looked at the problems and my back was sweating," she said. “I felt so nervous and scared, but then I really thought and thought and thought about each question and I got the right answers!” We have all been there, but I could not help but feel an overwhelming sadness and nervousness for my baby girl. She is so young! Why is it that she has to feel such stress at age 6? I don’t remember feeling like that until I was at least in middle school.

And if you see the math, you would understand her trepidation. It is hard! It requires abstract thinking and ideas that are difficult for a young child to conceptualize. Luckily she is doing well, but I can’t help but worry about what will happen as we advance into the school year.

The problem, in my opinion, about the core curriculum is that it does not lend itself to different types of learning styles in children. Some are visual learners, others auditory, and still others are tactile. A good teacher sees these differences in each child and models a lesson around these various learning requirements for children in her class. These skills, among others, are what make a teacher wonderful. This does not happen with the core curriculum. It is so structured, and each topic has a specific time frame, that teachers’ spontaneity, imagination, and inventiveness is thwarted by rigid constraints on lessons.

I do hope that the core curriculum does what it proposes to do, which is help our youngsters develop the skills to think outside the box, infer, and find unconventional solutions to problems instead of engaging in mere rote memorization. But, I do also hope that it does not rob our children of their childhood and lead to a society of anxiety-ridden individuals.