Friday, April 19, 2013

Busy Work

Thanks for all your great comments on my post about M and our frustrations with school and school work. One of the best things about blogging is the reminder that we're not alone

I thought I'd share some of the wisdom everyone shared here in the comments section, in case any of you are going through or will in the future go through something similar, and mostly so I can come back here and find reassurance.

Shannon wrote: "I've been in similar circumstances with my daughter, in regards to the busy work and the lack of organization skills. Now that she is in high school and it all "counts," she has figured out her own system that, though it's not the way I would do it, appears to work for her. She still gets frustrated with some of her teachers, but recognizes that she has to do some things she doesn't want to do in order to reach her goals...Good luck! Hey, at least the school year is almost over!"
Meryl wrote: "It sucks to be doing busywork that's too easy for you when your brain is firing-up for so much more. But, as you say, learning to follow directions and jump through hoops is as much of a life lesson as learning how to read."
Rachael | The Slow-Cooked Sentence wrote: "I remind myself when one of my twins struggles with middle school that this is a good place to make mistakes. In large part, my husband and I have tried to let our son own his problems. He checks his school online account to track his grades, missing homework, etc. He decides when he needs to stay after school for tutoring.... Ultimately, school success or failure is only one mirrored image of a child. Sometimes it's unflattering. My job as a parent is to expect and support my kid's best effort, whether it brings about the desired letter grade is irrelevant."
Lone Star Ma wrote: "I tried to take a middle road with my eldest who was always learning but also rather unwilling to jump through hoops. I insisted on B's and grounded for C's (one in elementary, one in middle school). She was perfectly capable of getting A's with no real effort through middle school, but I did understand about the hoops - her basic philosophy was 'grades and other numbers are just establishment illusions, Mom.' Other than the grounding, I tried not to linger on the C's.... Once she hit high school and her grades counted for her transcript, she became a whole different student. She is 7th in her (huge) class while taking an IB curriculum - the most rigorous in the world and her GPA is well over 100 and I would never, ever remotely suggest that she do anywhere near the amount of work that she does. She wants to go to med. school, though, so she does it, hoops and all."
And a friend of mine (who seems to have a mini-M in kindergarten right now) wrote in an email: "All I can say is I think having a kid like M is the best gift ever, he’s strong, smart, and independent.  He knows who he is and isn’t going to be swayed.  You should celebrate that, and I admit, figure out how to minimize all the school ‘junk’ so he can focus his attentions where he thinks they should go.  He’s motivated, he’ll fit it all in."
So there you have it: kids know instinctively when grades "count" or not––they'll motivate when they feel it's important to them, not arbitrary; the most important thing is to support and appreciate your kid; focus on his strengths, rather than squirting him with "week-killer"; let him take responsibility and ownership. Still I hope he finds a way to get along with this teacher who he'll have for two more years.

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