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Apr 24, 2015

Word BubbleAn earlier podcast on schools grading parents led to this week's discussion of whether schools should even be grading students. Are grades a needlessly judgmental and limiting system for assessing student progress? Do we really need stiff standards and the teaching-to-the-test that goes with them? Is there some more free-form and holistic way to help young minds thrive? Or does every uplifting possibility have a downside? We talk about some of the options and variations, and dream of things that might work if there was unlimited time, money, and ability.

From grading students, we move on to grading those activities we involve our kids in to try to round them out, like figure skating and dance classes and marching band and social-skills group and guitar lessons. Which activities have we felt to be worth the trouble, and which do we regret? Sometimes, as it turns out, those are the same activity. We talked about such discouraging factors as cost, time, age-inappropriateness, and overabundance of bric-a-brac.

Finally, we made our recommendations for the week: Catherine mentioned two stories on her site relevant to the activities topic, "Youth Sports Leagues: Questions to Ask Before You Sign Up" and "The Best Kids' Sports Facility Ever"; Amanda had two on her site relative to the grading topic, "Checklist: Know Your Child’s Strengths" and "Recognizing Your Child’s Strengths and Weaknesses"; Nicole shared her new obsession with the app Periscope; and Terri invited everyone to check out the collection of quotes from these podcasts on Facebook and Pinterest, because we are a meme machine.

Thanks as always to Jon Morin for producing our episode and Kristin Eredics for our happy in-and-out music. (If you're reading this description somewhere without hyperlinks, come to for the full recap experience.)