Teaching our kids

It’s a sad reflection on our society today if a teacher doesn’t have confidence that a parent is going to actively be involved in a child’s education.

I recently had a parent/teacher conference and I must say this is the first time I have been disappointed with one of my child’s teachers. Don’t get me wrong, she seems to be a good teacher and Amy really likes her. But I have some reservations.

I’ve known for some time now that I have a smart kid. I know most parents think their kids are smart, but mine is one of those really smart ones. I’m going to have to go back to school to keep up with her at this rate. She has blown the top off of the CRCT standardized tests that they give here in school. She’s reading at a 5th grade level and that’s when she’s not really trying. Her math skills are incredible too. I don’t know any other third graders working on square roots. I don’t even remember what grade I learned that in. I know it wasn’t elementary school.

So when I went to this conference one of my concerns was that she wasn’t allowed to pick more challenging books from the library. The reason I was given: “well if she reads all the higher level books now she won’t have anything to read when she gets to 5th grade.” Is it just me or is there something really wrong with that statement? She went on to say that in 5th grade we would have to go to the public library to get books for her to read and we wouldn’t know which ones were AR books and it would be a lot more work. Ummm… I’m at a loss for words here. Why wouldn’t I do that? If I want what’s best for my child, then I will do whatever it takes.

Are there really that many parents out there who don’t care about their kids education? That is the only thing I can glean from that comment. Has school just become a place where kids are babysat between the hours of 7:30 am and 3:30 pm? And if that’s the case, what are these kids going to do when they grow up?

I know there are some teachers out there reading this blog. Please comment and tell me what you think. Personally, I will continue to work with my daughter, take her to the library, book store, museums, etc. in an effort to continue to challenge her. But if this is what I have to look forward to for the next 9 years, I may have to re-evaluate what we’re doing about schooling.

Because I Said So!

Did I really say that? I vowed as a kid to never say that to my kids. Famous last words. Now I’ve said it. Just yesterday in fact was the first time. In the 7 1/2 years we’ve had Amy, (she was one year old when we adopted her) I have managed to come up with a different answer, usually an explanation of some sorts. But yesterday, it finally came out.

Ack! I’ve become my parents.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents. They are wonderful people, they have taught me a lot over the years, and I know I gave them a lot of grief over the years too. But when you are a kid you always think I’m going to be different than my parents were. I’m not going to have those same battles, I’m not going to say the same things.

But now it’s out there. Will I say it again? Probably.

Pick your battles

When did kids stop being kids? In the past two days I have seen news stories involving kids, and their over achieving parents. In Japan 25 kids had to give the lead part in a school play. There was only one lead part, but these 25 kids had to share the part. Just because all of the parents wanted their child to be the star. Then another story was about kids having business cards. A 2 year old with a stack of business cards in his bag? How ridiculous is that!!! The mothers explanation for it was “it makes him feel important, and helps his build his network of friends.” And to make it even worse, the price for these cards is $50 for 50 cards. I didn’t even spend that much on my own business cards (which are now sitting on a shelf gathering dust).

It seems like kids are being scheduled and forced to do things they don’t want to, have no interest in, or just aren’t ready for. Every night of the week it’s off to practice here, a recital there, grab dinner on the run, squeeze in homework somewhere, and don’t stop to rest.

I also had a more personal experience with parent pressure – it was at a pool. A bunch of kids were taking turns jumping off the diving board into the deep end of the pool. One of the kids didn’t want to do it, maybe they weren’t comfortable with their swimming skills, I don’t know. But they didn’t want to, and that was what mattered. Well the parents decided that it was more important for the child to be jumping off the diving board, so they kept pressuring until finally the deed was done. Afterward the tears started. When asked why they were crying, the answer was they felt pressured by the parents to do it even though they didn’t want to.

Maybe it’s a difference in parenting styles, but to me that was not something that the child needed to be pressured to do. I have an 8 year old and she has decided this year to try that and has found she likes doing that, but she made the decision to try, not me. She’s also become a stronger swimmer because of it.

And I will be the first to admit, I have made my share of mistakes parenting too. I’m not perfect and I don’t know any parents out there that are.

I think back on my childhood and my most fond memories of being a kid were playing with my friends, the spontaneous games played outside, swimming at the community pool, or just hanging out. We didn’t have to be somewhere all the time or constantly entertained and occupied. We used our imaginations to create forts out of refrigerator boxes, picked honeysuckles and tried to harvest the honey to sell to the neighbors, or rode our bikes up and down the street for hours on end.

Hopefully I will be able to convey some of that to my daughter and allow her to be a kid just a little longer. Because they certainly grow up fast enough without us pushing an adult agenda on them.