A parent's plea: Ban the boards

December 03, 2007|By Tara Sonenshine

How many times has your child come home with a school assignment that required purchasing one of those dreaded poster boards? You know - those large, white, foamy boards that come in a variety of inconvenient sizes such as 2 feet by 3 feet, or even larger.

You probably have loaded up your trunk more than once with these boards because your child insisted it was "very important" for a school project that, in retrospect, could have been done on a simple sheet of lined paper, were it not for the endless items that had to be glued, hung and taped to the large display board.

It's time to admit that poster boards represent the worst tendencies of our schools and our parenting today.

First of all, there is the simple matter of parental involvement in classroom projects. Enough is enough. As parents, most of us are running around in multiple circles at multiple moments, trying to juggle the BlackBerry and cell phone while keeping one eye on the soccer game. We have more errands than can possibly be accomplished on one tank of gas, and the last thing we need to do is to make that extra stop at the art store for the poster board. Nor is there any room left in the trunk, which is overfilled with skates, bats, dance shoes and the garbage bags full of already-sent-home costumes and papers from the last semester of school.

Second, there is the issue of storage. Schools are very clear about which day to send the poster boards to class, and are very quick to return them. Why? Because who has an extra basement of space to store these boards? And imagine if you have more than one kid doing more than one of these poster-board dependent projects. Even if we could throw the poster away, would the garbageman take it? (Of course, most of us wouldn't dare be caught tossing out old schoolwork - sentimentality breeds saving stuff, despite its size and nuisance value.)

Last are the environmental issues. I have not conducted a scientific study of the effects of foam boards on the atmosphere, but I am sure there will be one. And it will conclude that the world is overpopulated by poster boards and that we could reduce our poster board emissions by half if we had a Global Awareness Day About Poster Boards.

What I do know is that we are supposed to conserve paper - use both sides of the page, buy recycled paper, etc. How can a 2-foot standing piece of cardboard be considered environmentally friendly? And how about all that wasted space on the board where there is a crushed soda can, a piece of string or an old photograph to accompany the text, which was prepared on computer paper, cut out and taped to the board?

Think about the savings in time, money and gasoline if we didn't have to make the poster board run. Think about the time you wouldn't have to spend fighting with your child over the fact that you should have been informed days beforehand about the need for the poster board - like at the time you were last in that art store buying other unnecessary supplies.

Parents today are trapped. We want to be involved in the lives of our kids. We want to offer them everything we feel we didn't get - such as poster board help.

But it's time to take a stand. Ban the boards! Clear the decks! We want our trunk space back.

Tara Sonenshine is a former contributing editor at Newsweek. She writes about parenting from her home in Chevy Chase. Her e-mail is tsonenshine@earthlink.net.

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