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If you're a mom then you've said these words, you've made these observations and you've lived these situations - 24/7.
And for that, you are a goddess.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
School Blues -- They're Coming B-A-C-K!!!
After returning home from a fun, but intense, non-stop vacation – it is hard to believe that in three weeks school will begin.
My daughter has spent the last two years in K/1, a class of forty students, half in kindergarten, half in first grade. In kindergarten her homework rivaled that found in college. By first grade it had eased up.
I made a mistake by putting her in that combo class, where most of the parents call it advanced and see their children as being such.
Perhaps it might have worked for Mimi if I hadn’t gotten sick. But it was a class where nurturing was secondary to independence.
My daughter needed the former.
I would not repeat my error. Before school ended, I interviewed all the second grade teachers, spoke with my daughter’s then instructors and discussed Mimi’s education with her principal.
All agreed on the teacher she should have in straight second grade, which will have only 20 kids. Mimi will have to start over and meet new friends, as most of the old ones will be staying in the genius 2/3 classes.
I’m really happy she is moving onto something smaller and warmer.
I am less thrilled with the prospect of homework. I think Mimi is smart. I’ve been cautious about deciding that, but after watching her do some challenging math --thrown at her by her older brother -- and her knowing the answers, my hope is that arithmetic will not be a problem.
She doesn’t like to do it, though.
We’ve since had long talks bout the importance of doing well in school.
“But if I get really good grades, Mom, then I’ll be a nerd.”
‘Did she actually say that?’ I thought.
I asked if she thought her cousin, Tiffany, who graduated with honors from Stanford with undergraduate and graduate engineering degrees in just four years, was a nerd.
“OK, maybe not Tiffany. But if you’re super smart, you are a nerd, Mom. It’s true.”
I launched into a long explanation that being “super smart” does not mean you are a nerd. You are “super cool.” (Of course, just by saying those two words together -- you’re not).
I told her that daddy and mommy are smart. Her aunts and uncles are intelligent. It is OK to be smart, be good at art, at sports, have friends, enjoy school, and do well at homework, too.
“Can’t I just play?” she asks.
“No, you can’t just play. You have to go to school!”
Three short weeks.
I’m feeling a bit like a faux parent. Though I got straight A's in elementary school, once I got to middle school I saw how much fun NOT being a nerd could be.
I want her to have a different educational journey. I have signed up for parenting computer groups and will be volunteering more at her school and might EVEN get involved in the PTA.
I realize that simply because I didn’t try my best doesn’t mean my children have to go down that road. I remind them of that all that time, and always explain my regrets at not doing better.
I tell them I will be returning to college for a graduate degree in a year. They find that intriguing. I tell them the point is to always keep challenging ourselves.
Still, this year I will do what I said I never would. I will actually bribe them with allowances and prizes for excellent grades. My son, who is in high school, has gone from Fs, Ds and Cs to a straight B average based on praise (and a bit of yelling).
Mimi, our material girl, finds inspiration through the acquirement of things (as well as lots of props). If I have to spend money, then I must.
Otherwise, it will be spent on tutors.
I’d rather she “earn” her way to good grades, and we make her path as fun as possible.
I think it's possible. Well, I guess we’ll see in three weeks.
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By Dawn Yun
By Dawn Yun