What Kind of Student is Your Child?
We have always stressed the importance of education and the kids know that we expect them to get A’s and B’s in most of their classes. A C would be okay if they were struggling in a class but working hard. There would be consequences if they slacked off and got a C. We have always told them that getting good grades is like a key to opening doors they might want opened later in life. It’s always better to have choices of which door you want to go through so working hard now would pay off later. What is interesting to me is that I have three kids old enough where grades make a difference in their lives (Gia is 3) and I have three different students in this house.
1. The “Just Enough” student.
This would be the teenager that does the bare minimum to get good grades. He is perfectly happy to get B’s even though with some effort, which he does put forth sometimes, he could get A’s. He was the student happy to be on the honor roll in junior high but figured out he could stay out of trouble with grades by getting B’s and have a whole lot of fun at the same time. He’s also the child that has a really hard time when he comes up against something that doesn’t come easy. It’s frustrating because I want him to take on the challenge and rise to the occasion instead of complain and whine that he needs my help and then shut down. My lovely son learned a tough lesson when he took his first semester finals as a freshman. He thought the half days were license to hang out with his friends instead of study. All of his A’s went down to B’s and his B went down to a C. I have to give him credit for studying for the one class he was getting a C in, though. He ended up pulling a B in that one but was still grounded for the next quarter for slacking off during finals. It worked because second semester, he studied and maintained his grades. I was even proud that he showed a genuine desire to get straight A’s and then he became a sophomore and “just enough” seems just fine with him.
2. The “Self-Starter” student.
This would be my 11-year-old son. He does not like having homework or projects hanging over his head. He wants to get them done and not think about them again. He is a rule follower but works very quickly sometimes jumping in before he knows all the directions and then ends up a puddle of frustration having to start all over. He is my child that has his book reports done weeks in advance and then as other kids bring theirs in, he comes up to me the day before, crying that his is “crap” and needs to be done all over again. I appreciate that he does the projects by himself but I don’t appreciate ending up at Target more than once having to get new materials. I would love to believe that he gets good grades because they are important to him and I am sure that is part of it but I think a bigger part is that he is super-competitive and can’t stand to get a worse grade than the kid next to him.
3. “The Perfectionist”.
I am finding this one to be the most difficult at the moment. This is my 11-year-old daughter. The pressure that she puts on herself is unbelievable. Is it a twin thing? A girl thing? I have no idea but I have to tell her I don’t care if she gets a bad grade just to stop her from having an anxiety attack. On a side note, that tactic doesn’t work. It ends up with her shrieking, “What? So now you don’t care if I fail?” as if I am the worst mom in the world. She is so afraid to be wrong that she won’t even try to figure things out. She had a study guide for a social studies test that she had to do and then study from. Apparently, my daughter thinks I am the smartest person ever because she jumped right in with “I need help. Who was Augustus? What are the three reasons the Roman Empire fell? What happened in 476?” (Seriously? I can’t even remember what happened yesterday and I’m supposed to remember 6th grade social studies? The only Augustus I know is Augustus Gloop, the kid that fell in the chocolate river in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She didn’t appreciate that joke.) What is even better is that I had the book so I told her that Augustus was the first Roman Emperor and she argued that he was not. I love when I try to help and then hear, “That’s not what was said in class.” She gets it in her head before she does anything that she doesn’t understand it or know it and then can’t stop crying long enough to actually study. As you can imagine, studying is not fun here and no amount of “help” or consoling eases her anxiety. Things don’t come easy to her. She has to work to get good grades so maybe that is it. I’m not sure but I’ll tell you what. I am not so much worried about her grades as much as I am worried about this anxiety. If we don’t figure something out, it’s going to be a long seven years (including this year).
Three kids and three different student-types. Weeknights are fun (can the italics be the sarcasm font?) in my house.
Even as I write that, I know that I am lucky that these are the only things I am dealing with at the moment. I worried about school with my oldest since he was in preschool and now that he is a sophomore, I realize it was a lot of needless worry. No one asks you what you got on your state project in the third grade or your landform project from fourth grade (both of which ended up with some pretty big meltdowns). The real worry came in middle school when the skills they were being taught were the foundations to what they were going to be taught later on.
I want my kids to do well in school, really I do but I think right now, with these three that I am working with, I’d be fine with a little less co-dependence, less Target runs and a lot less anxiety.
What about you? What kind of students are your kids?