Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Parenting question #96740576937

How do you make them understand the importance of school? homework? grades? the "permanent file?"

I have always felt stress over school. While I did reasonably well in the grade department, it never came easy like it did for some of my friends and I always felt like a bit of a fraud because of it. I could hang with the smart kids, but I wasn't as smart as they were...I'm still not. A's were work and I felt disappointment with myself if I didn't get them.

In college several professors tried to teach me that it wasn't so much about the letter grade as it was what I LEARNED! A novel concept that freed me only slightly from the stress of attending classes and feeling unprepared. I couldn't fully commit to the idea because, after all, if it weren't about the letters they wouldn't give them, right?

Things didn't improve as my education continued. My law school career was peppered with smart ass comments from colleagues who I knew would get bigger and better jobs than I would. I was fine with that. I had a husband and a job and my focus was split. As long as I passed, I was happy to be on track for my "good" job...but not a "great" job.

But that's me. Now I have a child and I have to figure out how to teach him about the importance of these things without setting him up for the stress I felt all those years. He's in first grade now and things are different. Homework counts. Remembering things is important. Being responsible for your own achievements is an important lesson.

Tuesday he went to school without his backpack because he had left it in the minivan after Monday pickup. Today he went to school without the homework that was due today because he hurried while getting ready for school in the morning and didn't actually get the folder IN the backpack (found it lying on the kitchen floor when we got home after school). He was apparently not the only child who forgot their homework today and the teacher is giving them a "second chance" to turn it in tomorrow. I tried to talk to him about it and he says he cares. But I feel frustrated that he's not getting the significance and he may NOT get the significance until it's report card time and it's just too late to do anything about it. I don't want to freak him out, but I want him to understand WHY he needs to do better.

aaagghhh! Why can't this parenting gig come with a manual?


Holley said...

I'm in the same boat.

And I sure don't want to turn into crazy Mommy, barking at the child about the work, but I've caught myself doing that too. And then I find myself cringing at some of the in school work she's brought home.

I'm having a bad mommy week.

Bronwyn said...

Don't have any advice, I'm afraid. I just find it outrageous that kindergartners have homework!

Pretty signature, btw :)

Jillian said...

Honestly, I'm no help here because I think a six year old's only homework should be kicking a football around and riding their bikes. What in earth do kids of that age need to learn that can't be covered in 6 hours of school?

My oldest is in grade 3 and I truly don't believe in homework until year 4 at the earliest. It's just not necessary. In today's world of two parents working all day all you end up with is exhausted kids and exhausted parents spending their precious 90 minutes together at the end of the day fighting over spelling.

All that to say, I hate that the system has made this a problem. It shouldn't be and it's sad.

Gretchen said...

First grade is tough. Kids are easily distracted and scatterbrained sometimes, especially at age six when so many other things attract their attention.

Homework, grades, responsibility? Just not on the radar, yet. What they want to be for Halloween? Of utmost importance.

My advice, with a first-grader of my own (plus 6th, 4th, and 3rd graders too), is to heap reminders on him until the routine is well-established. I don't have to remind my older kids what to do. Plus, with them I let natural consequences teach them that they shouldn't forget homework/their lunch bag/their coat. They get in trouble, have to take their lunch in an "embarrassing" brown bag, they are cold. School of Hard Knocks.

I am a little more lenient and liberal with reminders and hand-holding with my first-grader. I just can't help it.

Sam will get it.

Hennifer said...

oh, and children are bright. He'll soon learn the consequence/reward system his teacher uses and act accordingly (to his personality)

My son had a stellar first half of first grade and then went downhill from there. I was devastated!!

I'm trying to use a bit of perspective this year.

Aurelia said...

meh, he'll pick it up.