Futures Now Rely on a Scale of A to F
This year has been a year of more bad grades than I can handle. I’m not the kind of mom who strives for perfection and I’m certainly no Tiger Mom who orders their child, ruler in hand, arms crossed like a drill sergeant on each and every test question till the child sees math formulas and adjectives in their sleep.
But I am the kind of mom who knows just how far a good grade can take you over a bad grade. I know that good grades can bring popularity, recognition, and opportunity, so when a grade of D or F come home on a report card, I tend to blow my stack; just a little.
You see I didn’t have parents who praised my good grades or hung them on the refrigerator (or at least I don’t remember any of it if they did), and I didn’t receive money for grades or a special treat or gift at the end of the year when I’d pass a grade with high marks so at some point, I started to stop caring about my grades. Well most of them that is. I didn’t know what it was like to feel special because I was smart. My parents praised me in other ways instead; ribbons for art contests and writing essays that were promptly displayed at home and when I was accepted into the high school’s Acapella choir my father gave me a dozen roses… My creativity was celebrated over my academia.
Then I married this super ridiculously smart man who was accepted into one of the toughest parts of the Navy, a man who took honors classes in high school, had read all the classics, wrote deep, moving poetry and amazed me with how much knowledge one brain could hold. I was hopeful that any offspring that we had would inherit his intelligence and my creativity and I was not disappointed in the least.
Needless to say, when it comes to my kids’ abilities in school, I’m confident that they will do well. They’ve each tested above their grade levels and participate in academic challenges and the school district’s talented and gifted program. I guess because I know what they are capable of; my head tends to explode when I see a bad grade. Dear hubs isn’t much better either; he’s adopted the rule that D’s and F’s are not acceptable and I hate to be that parent but I do agree with him.
So in the couple of cases where bad grades have come home on report cards, the husband and I have been a united front. In both instances where bad grades have made it past midterms and into the final grade, we determined that it wasn’t for a lack of understanding what was being taught in school but it was a lack of motivation and follow through on the part of the kids to get their homework in on time as well as a lack of communication from the school to say “hey your normally bright and smart child is suddenly failing my class”; and that we find unacceptable. Each night our children have a dedicated place for homework and both the time and the environment to get homework completed.
I’ll be honest, it unnerves me to no end when the kids go to the trouble to do the work but not to turn it in or repeatedly forget to bring a homework assignment home. It almost feels like a slap in the face when we are presented with bad grades because we provide them every opportunity and every chance to do well.
I guess because my parents didn’t seem concerned with my grades that it’s important to me to make sure I make it a priority now that I’m a parent. I often feel like if I had taken more of an interest in my own work and my own future, despite my parents’ interest in them; more doors could have been opened for me than they were when I graduated high school and entered college.
Because of what I know now and the difficulties that I know await my children without a good education, I am very proactive in their education and their learning environment. I’m very blessed that my children have a father who feels the same way that I do and backs me whenever I go all mother bear on the schools when it comes to programs offered or ensuring they get the help they need if and when they do need it. We don’t sit divided on the subject of education and grades because we both feel that grades and a good education are important and will follow you the rest of your life. (Though admitedly, I can't stand math and am thrilled to no end when I can get through a solid week and not use it.)
In the end though, I realize that the desire to do well has to come from them; they have to want to succeed and no amount of tools that I give them or the proper learning and study environment can force them to complete their work or even turn it in. But I still continue to praise them when they do well and encourage them when they don't.
Where do you stand on grades and education? Do you take your past experience with school and try to turn it around for your own children?