Making Education a Priority for A to Z Challenge

EjpgI often tell my kids they have one job – school. Their job is to learn. Today on the A to Z Challenge, it is the letter E so I decided to talk about Education.

Now when I decided on this topic for the challenge, I was thinking about formal education as in school, though I know kids learn so much in other places – the biggest being at home.

My kids are 7 and 9, which places them in first and third grade at our local elementary school. They both work hard and enjoy school. We have explained to them why their job as students is so important.

An education, we can at least hope, will prepare them for later. It will help them learn the basics they will need to get a good job and to survive in the world. And what they learn now is the foundation for further learning.

But it is more than just about leading them to a good job or career. Learning about the world builds character. It helps them make better decisions. The knowledge they learn can help them form opinions and develop a point of view.

And as they progress through school to middle school and then high school and finally college, I hope they continue their thirst for knowledge. And yes, we will be encouraging both kids to attend college.

I know that going to a university is not for everyone, but I think it will open up their world even more. It will introduce them to new experiences and to a variety of people. There is more learning at college than the classes you take.

Composite of graduation cap with diploma uid 1279578And with a college degree, their career paths will widen as an educated individual has a better chance of getting a job. I don’t want them to merely get by in life. I want them to succeed. And I think having a college degree will improve those chances. So as they get older, we will talk to them about college and their options.

But whether they go to college or choose a different route is not as important, as long as they are learning.

Personality trait or attention disorder?

Lexie has always been full of energy. Because of her horrible eczema when she was little we often indulged her – allowing her to be a little more rambunctious than her brother. She was so uncomfortable all the time but always a happy girl. But getting her to listen and follow directions has always been somewhat of a chore.

Even her kindergarten teacher mentioned it last year. She was often always moving around and not seeming to pay attention, but she did well when tested.

Now she is in the first grade. We had her spring parent-teacher conference in February. In addition to keeping up with her reading tutoring, her teacher, Mrs. D, mentioned Lexie’s trouble focusing. She said compared to the other kids, Lexie stands out. By this time in the year, her teacher expects her to follow the rules and to work hard. But Lexie continues to get up during work time to come talk to Mrs. D.

We easily read between the lines that her teacher thought she might have an attention disorder such as ADD or ADHD. Of course, Mrs. D is not a doctor, but she has been teaching for 29 years – 20 of those at the first-grade level.

Her teacher did talk about how research has shown this is a medical disorder and through either therapy or medication, Lexie might be able to concentrate better – if she is actually diagnosed as having a problem.

Mrs. D stressed that she didn’t want to alter Lexie’s bubbly personality, but she was worried about her decline in grades and how she would do in second grade when the work becomes harder.

I have mentioned this conference to a few friends, and they have wondered what we wonder – is this really an attention problem or is it just part of Lexie’s personality that she bubbles with energy. She never sits still out dinner. One of my friends mentioned her eight-year-old son is the same way and he doesn’t have any attention problems.

Can Lexie pay attention? Well, yes if she wants to. She can spend hours playing video games or with play-doh or fake snow. And as with many kids, she would rather be playing than doing homework. Ugh – homework is always a chore with getting her to stay on task and finish the assignment rather than go off on one of the hundreds of tangents that she seems to want to go down.

Of course mention of Lexie possibly being ADD brought out instant denial by both sets of grandparents. We heard everything from the teacher is to blame (can’t control the kids) to she isn’t being stimulated enough (as in the work could be too easy) to she is just behaving like all kids do. This is coming from people who raised kids in the 80’s and have memory of parents being told to drug their “unruly” children. In other words, they don’t see this as a real medical disorder. Or at least not one their granddaughter has.

I don’t know what to believe. My husband and I have commented in the past that if either of our kids had ADD it would be Lexie. She appears to draw the short straw when it comes to medical problems. From amblyopia to eczema, she just seems prone to more medical issues than Jase.

I don’t know if she has an attention problem in the medical sense but I do know that I want her to do well in school. In her current state, she may need help doing that. So what we have decided to do is speak to her pediatrician about it at her well-check appointment, which will be next month. Once we know more, we will know which way to go with helping Lexie do her best in school.