Report cards are done which indicates that I am officially ready for parent-teacher conferences. If you still have not yet met with your child’s teacher, I suggest you take a look at a previous post of mine (full of tips to make sure you have a great conference).
While I have to admit that the past two weeks have been crazy busy, this week’s post is not about conferences, or teaching, but rather about your child and another observation/realization I had this week (and I think it was a big one). So here it goes:
My students are well aware of conference time and what that means – ‘report cards’ are going home. Personally, I am not really good with surprises. If you ask anyone in my family, they will be the first ones to tell you that they can ‘never’ surprise me because I either find out before the surprise takes place or because I annoy them tremendously that they end up telling me. So, I apply the same rules to my students: no surprises. I show them their report cards before conferences (they see it before their parents) and we talk about their progress and whether or not they have reached their goals.
I know children react differently: some are dying to see their grades; others would rather pretend that grades do not exist, but in the end everyone gets to see them and read my comments (which I take a while to write). This is something I have done for a while especially because I teach upper grades and children are well aware of the process and goal setting. What I was not prepared to see was the reaction of some of my students when they saw their report cards: tears. The truth is I was actually taken by surprise.
No, I did not give them horrible grades, and the comments were truly positive. At first I was worried thinking “Oh no, this child is not getting the grade he/she was expecting and his/her parents are not going to be happy.” So, after asking a few questions, the couple of answers I got were that ‘they were tears of joy.’
Now I am really confused. How much stress can a 4th grader have? I am not torturing them about tests and/or grades. YES, I have high expectations, but it is not just about a grade/number or letter.
It was here that I had another ‘a ha!’ moment. How much pressure are we putting children under? How much anxiety is too much?
These events had made me think harder about my role as a teacher, but also the roles parents/caregivers play in how children feel. The truth is that children are put under pressure earlier and earlier each year. From test scores, to being ‘college-ready,’ to participating in ten different after school activities because that is what they need to be competitive. How much is too much?
Bilingual and multilingual children are already working harder as is, but where do we draw the line? I hear of middle school students having panic attacks and spending countless hours doing homework. Is this how we are preparing our children to be world citizens?
My question to you SpanglishBaby parents: How do you make sure your child has a balanced childhood? How do you find the perfect balance for your child as a student and you as a parent?
I am left without answers, but I know many of you do great and unbelievable things. I would like to know, and I am sure other SpanglishBsby members want to find out too.
Photo thanks to woodleywonderworks