This post was written by Kelly Rossiter.
I have a confession to make. My son was a slacker at school, and I didn't worry about it much. My husband, on the other hand, was insane about it. He comes from a family where a mark of 97% elicited the response, "What happened to the other 3%?" whereas my family would say "97%? That's nice, dear."
I can't begin to tell you the number of times we were told that my son wasn't working to his potential, that he had gone as far as he could on "native intelligence" as one teacher put it. He always did his homework, but to the bare minimum. In Grade 3 when asked how long a diary entry should be, the teacher replied "oh, about 3/4 of a page". Hugh carefully measured out 3/4 of the page, drew a line across and stopped mid-sentence when he came to the end of that line. He got a good mark for it, too.
Read more: I Don't Care if My Kids Go to College
There is so much pressure in our current climate to get children into excellent schools and programmes where they will get excellent grades, ensuring their place in a fantastic post-secondary school. But the cost in all of that is the well-being of the child. Deborah Stipek, Dean of Education at Stanford University and co-author of Motivated Minds: Raising Children to Love Learning points out that many A level kids are fixated on the school they will get into, rather than the learning itself. She says "I will take a B-student who is a happy, well-adjusted kid any day".
There is no question that they need good marks in high school to get into the college or university they desire, but in the early grades, well, not really. If your child doesn't work hard in school it could be because it's boring for them, or conversely, it's hard for them. It could be because the parent moves in too quickly to solve problems for them, so the child backs off and let mom or dad take over. It could be because they don't like the subject - did you do well in absolutely every subject you had to take? It could be the teacher. Or maybe they are just interested in things other than school. Pressuring them to work harder or get better grades may work, but what about the child in all of this?
I can tell you that my son went to university, in fact got accepted to every school he applied to, but didn't finish his degree, which also makes my husband insane. He reads more than anyone I know. He loves art and theatre, science and technology. He loves learning. He is currently working in politics, which is his passion, and we are in the endgame of a Provincial election. He has been working night and day, a slacker no longer. I see the regard that his co-workers have for him and the effort that he makes in his working life and I think, maybe I had the right attitude. He doesn't make a six-figure income, but he works extremely hard at something he loves. And he's happy, and to me, that's more important than anything else.
Photo: John Pratt/Getty Images
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