The dreaded report cards have come out….

It is a time that many kids – and perhaps some parents – dread. Yes, it is report card time. Both Jase and Lexie received their mid-year report cards last week.

The grades reflected on these report cards are supposed to be a benchmark on how your child is doing in school. And as parents, we want our kids to do well. We want to see our kids reach their potential and show how smart they are (because as parents, we all believe our kids are bright).

Lexie’s report card is more difficult to decipher how she is doing, and if she is learning at a proper rate. In Kindergarten, the report cards don’t have letter grades. It is a list of tasks and whether they have mastered them or are still working on that skill. On both her first two report cards, there are some skills that neither has a + (mastered) nor a / (working on) by them. I assume those are skills that will be addressed later in the year.

Now Jase’s grades this year are lower than those of first grade. Last year, he had mostly As with a few Bs. He excelled in science but struggled more in reading. He started reading tutoring (RAP) last spring and has continued it through this past fall. His reading grade on this report card reflects that extra help. It has gone from a high C to a high B. (Yeah, Jase!)

As I look at the report cards, I am unsure if Jase understands the importance of grades. We have never stressed that he needs to get all As. We have just told him to try his best. The problem is that since he doesn’t see their importance, I sometimes think he doesn’t try his hardest. But I also know that his struggles in reading have led to some of his lower grades in other subjects.

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As I listen to other parents brag about their kids’ good grades (thank you Facebook), it makes me wonder if some parents put too much importance on grades. There are many kids who do not test well but this doesn’t mean they are dumb, don’t know the material or are not as wonderful or special as their high-achieving classmates.

Not every kid will be an A student. And parents, in my opinion, shouldn’t pressure their kids. They may try their best and only reach a C.

I am a firm believer in not rewarding good grades with money and not punishing a child for bad grades. Too often parents want to take away a privilege such as video time when grades are bad. Now I guess if the grades were really bad, I would consider dropping extra-curricular activities as academics need to be a priority. But the consequence should fit the crime. If they aren’t doing homework or studying like they need to, then homework should be the first thing they do when they get home.

I guess my advice is to take to the time to explore the reason your child is getting the grades they are getting. Are they trying their best? Will extra studying or tutoring help? Taking the time will help more than yelling or punishing them.

With Jase and Lexie, we are trying to stress the importance of good grades and taking pride in your efforts. It is about looking for ways to positively motivate them and promote a love for learning. And if they try their best, we will be happy with whatever grades they receive.

Protesting a possible school boundary change

Over the summer, a friend mentioned that she heard there might be a boundary change that would affect where my kids go to middle school. Even though they are in elementary (kindergarten and second grade), I was still curious if this was a rumor or something that might happen.

I immediately emailed the principal, and even though it was July, he responded right away. He hadn’t heard anything yet but would keep me (and all the parents) up to date. He assured me that they would have a public meeting BEFORE any boundaries were changed.

Well, this September, it seems the rumors may be true. A new middle school is set to open next August. Currently, there is only one middle school in this area, and they will have to redo the boundaries. boundary mapNow my house is situated with pretty much equal distance from the Elementary School (EPE) and the Middle School (TMS). (It is .4 miles to EPE and .3 miles to TMS.) We are clearly in walking distance to both school. In fact, we walk daily to the Elementary school – even in the 100+ Texas heat. The only thing that causes us to drive is a downpour.

So the thought that they may take everyone from EPE and send them to the new middle school (by bus) seems crazy. But I know that school districts in other cities (and for all I know my city) have done this before.

The school district has asked for comments before their upcoming November meeting where they will propose the new boundaries. I wrote a 700 word letter and emailed it to them.

Basically, I sited proximity as the main reason for not liking the possible change. Really, we are so CLOSE to the middle school. It will be about a 5-minute walk. There is no way I want my kids bused to another school if they can walk to one that is essentially across the street from our subdivision. It would be a waste of resources by the school district to do this.

Another concern is what this could do to the appeal of our neighborhood to potential new residents. Surveys show that school boundaries play a role in home-buying decisions sixty percent of the time. If potential buyers look in our area, they may not want to move here when they find out their kids will not go to the middle school that is in walking distance of their home.

And my last argument focused upon the community feel that we have with EPE and TMS. Students from EPE often walk over for events at TMS. This would not work if they have to go to a farther away middle school, or if they do go for events there, they will have to be bused, which obviously is a more expensive option and one the principal may not be willing to forego.

It won’t be just my letter the district will receive. I (and many other parents) are urging others to write in and voice their opinions. Whether our wishes will be taken into consideration or not, I don’t know. However, I will most likely be at the November meeting. And if they propose this boundary change, I will be voicing my opposition.

The excitement and nerves of the first day of school

IMG_1277Today is the first day of school for Lexie and Jase.

Jase is beginning the second grade. He is excited though I am sure nerves will begin to hit as we walk through the door. Last year, I didn’t even walk him to his class. He said good-bye at the front door. But this year, his baby sister starts kindergarten. I figure he will want to walk her to her classroom.

Yes, my youngest is starting kinder today. And while I know some parents will shed a tear as they drop their “babies” off at school, I won’t be one of them. I have never seen this as a sad day. I am excited that she is entering this next stage of childhood. She has gone to preschool for the past two years so really school is nothing new to her. But this year she is at the “big” school with her brother.

Lexie is sure they will see each other throughout the day. All summer she has been asking if they will play on the playground or sit together at lunch time. Jase has patiently been telling her that no, those things won’t happen. He will be with the second graders, and she will be with her kinder class.

I am unsure how this morning will go. For the past two weeks, we have been trying to prepare the kids for getting up early but have yet to make them get up at 6:30. Lexie loves her sleep, so I expect it to be difficult to wake her up. Or she could be excited about Kinder and pop awake.

I don’t imagine getting them ready will be a problem. They will be excited and we walk with friends from the neighborhood, so there is that motivation for getting out the door on time. What I wonder about is how Lexie will do when I leave her in her classroom? She is typically an out-going, friendly girl. She has no problem introducing herself to other children. But when she sees the other nervous kindergartners will this cause her to worry too?

I am not one to stay long at the school. I will walk Lexie to class and see that she is settled in her assigned seat. As I said, I imagine Jase will come with us. After a quick reassurance that I will pick her up on the school patio at the end of the day, I will have to walk away. No, not a tear in the eye but with the knowledge that Lexie is ready for this new challenge.

That isn’t to say that I won’t be a tad sad when I walk in the door to the house and realize the kids are gone all day. Heck, who am I kidding? I have too much to do to worry about the kids.

School performance: My shy child in front of all those parents

In January, my son came home and announced he wanted to try for a speaking part in the upcoming first-grade performance.

I nodded and then asked, “you know you will be performing in front of people?”

“Of course,” he replied, looking at me like that was the silliest question he had ever heard.

My mind instantly flashed back to last year’s kinder performance. All five kindergarten classes stood before their parents and sang songs of the rainbow. And there stood Jase looking like a deer caught in the headlights. He barely sang or did any of the accompanying hand/arm movements. He clearly had a case of stage fright and that was with everyone standing together on the stage.

This year’s performance will be a short program entitled “BUGZ.” I don’t know how many kids have speaking parts but Jase got the part of bug number 22 which is a firefly. Those who don’t have a speaking part will be part of the choir.

FireflyJase will be up there with three other fireflies and has two lines.

Rehearsals started three weeks ago, and the performance is next week. They will perform for the fifth graders in the morning and then for the parents in the evening.

I worry he will suffer stage fright again, or he will only speak in a whisper. He has never been a very loud kid, and he has always been shy around adults. He didn’t even speak to his preschool teacher until the last month of school. As he has gotten older, he has done better with talking to adults but often is shy in a group. And when he is nervous, he tends to stutter a little.

I know there will be other students who mess up or only whisper their lines, but I hope Jase doesn’t run into any of those problems. I hope he can deliver his lines with confidence and have a good experience because I know that these first experiences can make an impact on how he feels and how he does at future performances.

I am not comfortable speaking before a large group. I will not be the best one to give him advice, and I certainly don’t want to discourage him or transfer any of my fears onto him. In this case, I will probably have to let my husband do any pep talks on how to handle stage fright. As an attorney, he is used to speaking in front of judges and juries and often gives speeches at legal conferences.

So I will have to wait and see how Jase does next week. Right now, he is just excited about having a speaking part. No matter what happens, I will be proud of him.