Minus Four

March 11, 2014

This week Drew received a worksheet that showed he scored minus four on his ability to assess sight words. Some parents may have shredded the sheet and not looked back. Other parents might have sat him down and studied with him. Not I. Not this Supermom. I taped up that sheet on our garage door (where I tape up sight words). I presented it loud and proud. I also put up the flash cards with the words he didn’t know. Everyday when we discuss the sight words on the door, I remind him that he needs to improve on these tricky ones.


I don’t mean to be flaunting my methods as a tell tale that I know, or even have the slightest clue, what will make a child successful in school. But I can’t help but go back to the fact (previous blog here) that my kids seem to be growing up in a society where they get a medal for showing up. We are so concerned about coddling our children that we are afraid to be upfront with them.


The truth is that Drew has big dreams (kindergarten dreams but dreams nonetheless) – he wants to play basketball at a division one basketball team. At some point he’s going to have to come face to face with the truth that either he can (in which case all my unease is for nothing) or he can’t. I cannot make him a better basketball player (I can sign him up for basketball, which I have) and I can give him every tool he needs to be successful. The part I find he is missing, is the value of school in all these athletics. If he’s going to want these things, he’s going to need to bring his A game (as in grades).

Our family has been strongly shaped by his influence. Gabby finding aggressive behaviors that her brother exhibits. Noah crawling over to the basketball and trying to shoot it into the hoop. I can’t help but feel that not only do these lessons I’m teaching him, the value of assessing your performance and then stepping up your game, directly benefit him but set the tone for the other two. The value we all place on school, doing your best and not stopping until you have done your best is a culture that I need to develop for them all.

I’m not going to pretend that I have any idea what is necessary to breed academically successful students. All I know is that I was self-motivated. Somehow, someway, I would like my children to find that same motivation (even with an over-involved controlling mother). Perhaps I could focus on the fact that Drew got ten of the sight words correct. That would probably parallel the positive reinforcement society he’s growing up in. But sometimes, and I think this is one of those times, you just need to face up to the fact that a minus four is a minus four. And it means that you need to spend more time focusing your efforts on improving. When he gets a one hundred percent, I’ll flaunt that too (and not just on our garage door).

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