Death Knell for “Not on a School Night”

There are so many ways that SVS challenges the way we think about school and education. Some are deep and profound others are just strange. Recently my daughter asked if she could sleep over at a friend’s house. It was mid-week and my first thought was “not on a school night.” But of course I was aware that SVS school nights are not dedicated to homework. Even the need to get to bed early to be ready in time for the bus holds no water. We can drop off any time. So school nights do not dictate an especially early bed time (unless parent work schedules dictate).

Perhaps my New England Puritan heritage was rearing its ugly head, but on some level I thought a mid-week sleepover was “wrong,” immoral, the devil’s work! I tried arguing that she should not go to the sleepover because she still needed to get a good night’s sleep to recover from a recent cold. She informed me that she would in fact get more sleep at the sleepover, because her friend’s parents made them go to bed earlier than she usually went to bed at home. Trapped!

I quickly overcame my puritanism and dived into the details of tooth brushes and getting her a lunch the next day, much to my daughter’s delight.

This made me think about how our public school used to send home elaborate sleeping and eating instructions during the week of MCAS testing. Instructions encouraged us to put the kids to bed early. Make sure they have a good nutritious breakfast before school. All this to get an extra point or two on the test I guess.

I try to imagine Danny or Mimsy telling me to put my kids to bed early and serve them a good breakfast on Gingerbread house day. Shouldn’t JC duty require a hearty breakfast? Surely on the day the kids vote on which staff they think should return next year some special health precautions should be taken!

How strange such ideas sound in the context of SVS. I am sure many a student has come to SVS tired due to lack of sleep. My oldest daughter tells me there is a rule at SVS regarding repeated sleeping incidents across multiple days during school. So the problem is addressed by the school community on the level of expected behavior at school, where it belongs.

In the end, Holly had a great sleepover. The Pilgrims might be shocked, but it has made me realize that I should be more open minded about having a second glass of wine “on a work night.” Thanks again SVS, for opening my eyes in so many different ways.

The views expressed on this page are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Sudbury Valley School.