Friday, April 20, 2012

Give 'em a break

Big week for a lot of kids in my school district - state testing and third-quarter report cards. After three days of filling in circles, I'm sure a lot of these kids could use a break. But, I guess when the quarter ends, it ends, so there's not much to do. Besides, many kids (at least I know mine) have tests again in a week and then in June so there's no end in sight. I really don't care much about these tests. I tell my daughter to just relax and she'll do fine. She's bright enough - the only thing that could stop her from doing well is her own anxiety. My first grader doesn't have to deal with that stress yet, thank goodness. Well, she gets it a little bit. Her teacher gives them work that "prepares them" for the third-grade exam. I don't really know what that means and I'm sure all my educator friends are chomping at the bit to let me know but I gotta tell you - it's just not that important to me. I want my kids to learn, but I sometimes wonder about how they are taught. Starting this summer, the kids will have to work harder to catch up for next year because New York State is changing curriculum standards (yet again!) So, now what the kids are normally taught in 5th grade, they will already be expected to know by the time they get to 5th grade. Yikes! I can just imagine how excited my children will be to know they have to do school work over the summer. I'm sure a lot of kids don't mind. I know plenty of parents who give their children work on top of school work and homework. I remember one lady being surprised that I didn't do that and that I let my kids watch TV on school nights. Is that wrong? Is it wrong for me to not push them harder? Is it wrong for me to be happy with good grades and not expect perfect scores all the time? I know I am a little lax sometimes - like when I allow my daughter to hand in an assignment with sloppy handwriting and excuse it and blame it on her being left-handed and criticize the teacher for not being sympathetic to lefties. How do you know when you're pushing too hard or not pushing enough? That's such a tough question. I just think it's okay to be good at a lot of different things and maybe not excellent at one specific thing. For instance, I would never push my kids to do sports or dance or any other extra curricular activities. They have to try and they can't quit right away, but if there is a genuine dislike of something, I'm not going to force it- because to me, my forcing them to do something will make them hate it even more. And I don't want them to hate things! I can't be one of those parents that has my kid in cheer competitions every other week, traveling all over the region to "perform" against other 6-year-olds. No offense, but at 6, is it really worth it? What are they getting out of it? I know this will get people mad, but let's face it - what are the chances of your child playing baseball in the majors? Very, very slim. That's not me talking - that's a fact. You may think you've got the next Kobe on your hands, but should you put all the eggs in that basket? What if little Kobe tears a ligament? I hope he got his BA in something other than communications! I would never discourage a child from following their passion. But it needs to be their passion. It needs to be their love of something and not their parents living vicariously through them. Just because I love softball doesn't mean my girls have to (but I hope they do). And more than loving softball, I want them to love science and community service and hiking and going to church. I want them to love lots of things and while I won't stop them from following their passions, I will pray they have a full resume because softball might not pay the rent. Seriously, can you name a dozen professional female athletes in any one sport? I'll give you $500 if you can without looking it up. You'll get the money as soon as one of my girls goes pro.

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