Today is the first day of school for many families. I heard the bus this morning and felt sorry for those children. Not sure what is going on anymore as I don’t have anyone in school, but the little ones catch the bus extra early and I know they get home well after the high school kids come home. I suspect that has something to do with so many parents working.
Putting children on the bus for the first time is always difficult. We do everything we can to get them ready for that day. Then we fall apart. Our babies have grown up and become school children. They are in someone else’s hands for hours. We cross our fingers and hope they make friends or find their friends. We cross our fingers and hope that they do well.
Truthfully, they do. Rare is the child who has a problem making the adjustment, and even they tend to settle down in a day or two. My oldest was so tiny and little, that I worried about her. I found out a few weeks later that all my fears were unfounded. Seems the tallest boy in her class decided to appoint himself as her protector. The friendship those two shared continued even though our daughter wound up in a different school system. They had mutual friends. He wound up playing football for the New England Patriots.
When my second child went to school, I was drinking a cup of tea and thinking what a relief! Little did I know there was no relief when it came to her. Her mind spun faster than most and it wasn’t a good thing when it came to school. I doubt she was there for two weeks when I got a phone call from the school. I was told to stop teaching her at home.
No, the teacher wasn’t joking.
“Oh, by the way, in case you haven’t noticed, she can read and write. But I didn’t actually teach her, she just picked it up.”
About two weeks later, I got another phone call. Apparently, she wasn’t behaving.
“Uh-oh! What did she do?”
The teacher was talking about weather and my daughter wanted to know what caused thunder. Well, I never could explain that, and there was no internet back then to help me. The teacher told her it was the clouds bumping together. (Please do not give a child a stupid answer. If you don’t know, tell them you don’t know! Teachers cannot be expected to know all the secrets of the world.) From what I gathered, my darling little daughter stood, put her hands on her hips and said, “Don’t give me that line of sh*t. I know it has something to do with ions.”
Yes, I’m sure she said it, besides she admitted saying. It was my favorite curse word and still is. But I’m biting my cheeks to keep from telling the teacher what I think and at the same time to keep from laughing. I chewed my daughter out for cursing in school. Then I suggested she visit the library at school and talk to the librarian. Certainly he could find an answer for her. The teacher wouldn’t let her go because she wasn’t old enough. The library was for older students! What?!?
Thus started her school life and it didn’t improve. Every school book her older sister brought home…she read. She ran out of books to read for her age so we gave her science magazines and National Geographic magazines to read. By second grade, we were in a different school system. Again, she had problems. They ran an IQ test on her. It was outrageous. They sealed it. That was probably my mistake. Long story short, she only went to the tenth grade, took her GED, and got out. Eventually she settled down and went to college.
Then I put a granddaughter on the bus. Totally different personality, very introverted, and didn’t like being around a bunch of people. We had tears almost every morning. She wouldn’t answer when called upon. It took her forever to adjust to school, and then we discovered she wasn’t reading very well. We paid to have her tutored by a teacher that she liked. Once she got the reading under her belt, everything kicked in academically, but she never really did well in school. She’s a gifted artist and photographer. She’s got her mother’s brains but down a different path.
I’ve also worked as a preschool teacher in what they call K-4 or Kindergarten for 4 year olds in a private school. Then I wound up as the assistant librarian in a public school. So I’ve seen school from both sides and from the private and public sectors.
Schools are better equipped to handle students then they were when my girls went. They aren’t perfect, but 99% of the teachers do care and want the children to learn. We can’t shadow our children through school and there’s no way to wrap our children in a plastic bubble to protect them. From the good and the bad, they will learn, and they will learn to get along with other students and teachers. Some things we cannot teach them at home. They learn by being there and those skills carry through life.
And if the child has problems, there are professionals called advocates. If your child needs one, make sure they get one! The job of the advocate is to make certain that a student is getting what that student needs. It doesn’t matter if the child needs extra help with certain subjects or an expanded learning program.
And never assume that a child with low grades isn’t intelligent! You know your child. Talk to your child, the school, your doctor or to the advocate. Is the child not reading or bored? Or maybe can’t keep focused for more than a few minutes. Or maybe a combination of several things.
A friend’s daughter was diagnosed as being ADHD. Mom didn’t want the child put on the meds. All those horror stories…! Finally as the child entered seventh grade, mom gave up. The child had barely passed. It took three tries and when she had the right med for her, she looked at her mom and asked why didn’t you do this years ago? I feel wonderful. She also graduated from high school with honors and from college with honors. This was the child that wouldn’t take naps. This was the little girl who would run through the house screaming her head off for no reason at the age of two!
Also never assume your child won’t do something that they shouldn’t. I promise they will do it! As far as I know my daughter never cursed again in school – at least not to a teacher. (Although she did come home ranting to me about stuff that happened.) There’s nothing harder for a teacher than having to pick up the phone and say that your child did… So before you say my child wouldn’t do that. Think twice!
My youngest hated every minute of school and my oldest loved it. Two girls raised the same way in a happy household yet they had different personalities and totally different perspectives on school. One granddaughter did well all the way through school and the other struggled.
As a parent, your job is to be there for your child. Listen to the child, attend teacher conferences, and pay attention to your child and his or her surroundings. If things go wrong, talk about it. Give them time to do homework and don’t expect them to go off to a room alone and do it. Take your book and read while they work. Check what they’ve done. If they are struggling with math and you can’t help them, check with a neighborhood teen who might be able to explain it. Yes, they are getting geometry and algebra in elementary school. They are not being taught cursive. Nor must the memorize the times tables. They are getting keyboarding and are being taught to use a calculator. Things have changed.
It’s a lot like potty training. And if you’re struggling with that, it’s okay. Just stay at it and remind yourself that he or she will be potty trained before they get married.