Monday, April 23, 2007

My Daughter, Myself

Thing One came home with a very poor spelling test. This was a bit of a surprise because she usually does well in spelling and in fact knew all the words everytime I quizzed her before the test.

"so, what do you think happened?"

"I don't know, Mommy. I was thinking about my pants and the snaps at the bottom. And maybe about my birthday and also..."

"So, you weren't focusing on your test."


"I know you knew the words."

"I did know the words. And anyway, I am one of the smartest kids in my class, you know."

"I do know that. Which is why you should be doing well on the test."

"But who cares! I know the words!"

And here is the thing. I understand exactly how she feels. Tired of "proving" what she knows when she and her teacher and her parents all know what she knows. Nothing gets this kid's goat like reading comprehension questions. She hates to retell a story. She knows she understood it; why does she have to prove to you that she understood it? Most weeks she is willing to play the game, but some weeks it seems, she just needs a break from being the smartest girl in the room. I had a little bit of this attitude in school too. I knew I would do well if I tried hard, and sometimes, just recognizing my potential was enough for me.

So, how do I help her with this, when it was my problem too? And do I really need to help her with it? My "underacheiving" 3.85 average got me a scholarship to a better-than-average liberal arts college. I have always been a good employee at all my various jobs. I am happy. My life is good. Would I have been happier if I had worked for the 4.0? Would my quality of life be improved? I can't say "yes" to either question.

And yet I feel like I should have higher expectations for her. And certainly, I don't want to give her permission to be a slacker. But I really don't feel like the best person to be lecturing her on this point.


Marie said...

Hi, I am new to your blog. Just couldn't help but comment, as I am a former teacher. You should talk to your child's teacher about it, unless you have. Maybe something could be worked out, depending on what grade she is in. As a teacher, I would cut her some slack on the testing unless it is absolutely required by the school. It's important not to burn her out, she should love school. Even having been a teacher though, I have a 4 year old, and I have no clue what to do on the parent end! Good Luck.

MsBelle said...

Gosh, Stephanie, I was kinda the same way. I understood it but really wasn't that good at taking tests. But since my mom was a teacher I had to at least try to do good on tests.
I'm sure you explained to her how important it was that she do her best. Ask her if she thought she did her best, and if she says yes, then I guess wait until she's gotten over it and bring it up again for discussion. Tell her just what you told us, that you don't want her thinking it's ok to be a slacker, because it's not, but she should really try to focus on doing well on her tests. Maybe it would help just being blunt. I don't know, I'm not there yet, so I really shouldn't say anything! said...

I can't resist. Please forgive me if my passion comes through too strongly on this subject.
School is school. They teach and test on school.
SHE KNEW THE WORDS! Be proud of that, not the grade.
She will not be tested on those words in life.
She will be good at spelling or she won't, do you see my point?
And guess what? She'll be okay if she's not.
Her gift , her destiny, her purpose has nothing to do with how well she spelled on a test.
She can follow her passions, her interests, (and still make a living doing it) even if she does horrible in school.
Don't forget public school was created to train more efficient factory workers at the beginning of the industrial revolution, and it has changed very little in it's curriculum since it's birth.
(I can find the source for that info, if your interested)
Again, please don't stress over grades, they have nothing to do with your child's abilities that currently exist and the abilities she will develop as a result of following her interests.
I will be blogging on this very subject coming up soon, after I research my resources!

SylviaV said...

This kinda sounds like me as a kid too- I still don't think I tried my hardest in school, because I didn't need to to get great grades. Toward the end of high school, I stopped pushing myself altogether.

My reaction was a direct result of my mother putting so much pressure on me to do well and go to university- I'm an only child, which made it worse.

I'm not a mother myself, but I do think there's a lot to be said for not putting too much emphasis on school- I know I haven't had to prove any algorithms out in the real world ;)