Last week was our semi-annual teacher-parent-student conferences at the elementary school. I have all three of my boys at the same school right now, which is pretty convenient for a lot of reasons. First meeting was with my kindergartner and his teacher: he's meeting all expectations for a five year-old. Huzzah! All of our trips to Target and the dollar store during his preschool years paid off!
Next, my sixth grader and I went upstairs to meet with his teacher. Like every year before this one, he is testing high, turning in all of his work, helpful, and the easiest kid in the class (which, I'm not going to lie, presents its own kind of problems, like, how do I help this kid learn to fail and struggle? It's an honest-to-goodness issue, but not the discussion for this post).
Last meeting of our day was with my fourth grader. His teacher was running behind in her appointments and my son and I danced in the hallways and Snapchatted to pass the time (why did it feel like we were in trouble?). Finally, we sat down with his teacher and she looked exhausted as she moderately complimented my son on a few things she felt he was doing well. And then the storm rolled in and I was told for the first time that he was in "Resource" groups that took him from running outside with his class and into extra help with math and language arts (reading comprehension). I had no idea. Also, he's not listening, apparently. His scores are low. And all that jazz.
Which just breaks my heart. This kid of mine has had two teachers out of five who have complimented him and seen that he is a good kid who tries. I have seen him turn completely apathetic when teachers have him feeling slow or dim. This, in turn, gets him even further behind and less excited to try.
Let me be perfectly transparent: I am not worried about this kid's intellect. He is smart in ways that his brothers are not. He is quick-witted, has excellent hand-eye coordination, and can solve puzzles faster than anyone. I have no doubt that he will be a success in whatever he chooses to do as he grows up. He is a good kid and has one of the most tender hearts of anyone I have ever met.
BUT, I am concerned that he is not going to learn how to feel success in learning. I worry that his apathy will turn to disdain. I wonder if that even when I am telling him how proud I am that he is doing his homework and learning so much, that he is hearing seven hours every day his teacher's frustration and disappointment that he is not the kind of smart that the school system deems valuable.
How do you help your kids find success in education EVEN WHEN they are being told at school that they are unsuccessful?
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Love you and your kids. Thanks for doing YOUR best.