Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Grade Debate

I used to have such different feelings on this. Like, how all my children were going to be little geniuses (not that they aren't) and turn all their work in early so naturally they'd be on the Honor Roll. You know, because they couldn't help how smart and fastidious they were. Grades really wouldn't be an issue in our house. Just lots of Honor Roll parties where we'd go out for ice cream sundaes to celebrate their brainiac ways.

I guess I sort of forgot the part about genetics. And karma. And free will.

Growing up, I remember my mom being so frustrated with me because I just forgot to turn stuff in or I would wait until the last possible moment to work on big assignments. Science fair, anyone? There's no excitement in planning ahead, you see.

I wasn't brilliant, but I was no dummy. Grades just didn't matter to me as a young person. But. In college, I wished they had mattered more.

And now, the roles are reversed. I am the frustrated mother and my children are starring in the role of very capable procrastinators.

Mr. O's parents did not have an official stance on grades. And really, neither did he until college. Fortunately (or not, from our kids' point of view), we both have an active interest in our children's academic progress. We have tried various methods of encouraging/nagging. The pay for grades, the restrictions for grades? We've been there, done that, and financed the t-shirt company.

But there is a line, isn't there, between instilling good study skills and shoving your own scholastic agenda down their throats. I don't think kids always have the foresight to realize just how important their GPA is to their future college career, but I also know it isn't impossible to overcome once you're there (a helluva lot more expensive though, to be sure).

I have typed and untyped so many thoughts related to this. So let me just state a few of my personal beliefs here.

1. My kids' grades, awards, achievements (or any lack thereof) do not make me a better (or worse) parent.

2. Kids need room to make their own choices and to learn from them. The stakes are not quite so high (academically speaking) in junior high and high school.

3. I love my kids for who they are, not what they do.

And really, I keep that last one as my mantra.

I'm curious, how do you feel about your children's grades and success? Do you see it as a yardstick by which you measure your parenting success?


b. said...

This is a great post!

I do struggle a bit with really really wanting them to succeed even though they don't seem to care.
But I agree with you...and I love the mantra.

Karen C. said...

You have hit the nail right on the head with the points you've made. I've been doing the "mom" thing longer than you and most of your readers (I am a YOUNG grandma..) but given the experience I have had with my kids, you have it right. I continue to be amazed at how different my kids can be when they are all from the same gene pool and have been raised under the same roof. The #1 thing is to love them unconditionally through everything, all the time, and make sure they know it.
Sorry to go on for so long, I need to say one more thing. I LOVE YOUR BLOG.

Mrs. Organic said...

I don't think the world has enough Karen C., I really don't. :)

Elizabeth-W said...

Amen. Wish I had time 2 write but it's a big issue 4 me.

Mrs. Organic said...

We do remove "distractions" like technology once grades slip into the Cs. We figure they need a little help focusing, but it's so hard for me not to nag.

Parenting is hard.

Mrs. Organic said...

E.W. - if you get the time, I'd love to hear your 2 cents on this.

radioactive girl said...

Report cards come home today for my kids. I don't so much care about the grades as long as my kids seem to be working as hard as they can. For instance, my son got on honor roll last trimester even though he rushes through his work and doesn't learn much sometimes.

His twin sister has a learning disorder and did not make honor roll. She has worked her butt off and learned a ton. Which kid really deserved honor roll? My daughter but she didn't get it because the world doesn't reward hard work, just end results. However, my kids know I don't care at all what kind of grades they get as long as they are good people and learn as much as possible at school. My son worked really hard this trimester because last trimester even though he was on honor roll, he could tell I was sort of disappointed in the way he slacked a bit.

And I totally agree, my love for my kids has nothing to do with what they can do. I love them just because they are.

Mrs. Organic said...

It seems my daughter who has a learning disability is consistently the hardest academic worker. It is probably ten times harder for her, but she is dedicated.

I wish the others realized more just what they have and would make more use of it. I think I just understood the parable of the talents in a whole new light.

Anonymous said...

I struggle with this one. I was homeschooled in a very hands-off way and I became extremely self-motivated, but I could have used a little more structure and guidance, and some of my siblings could have used a I more. I want to provide more guidance, encouragement, high expectations, and a good example than I got. But I don't want to get in the way of my kids' independence or go too far in shielding them from consequences, nor teach them that grades are everything. But I DO want to teach them that they should do their best. I love being able to see online whether my jr. high-schooler is as caught up as he claims to be, and I don't let him play until he's finished homework. And sometimes I save him from his tendency to procrastinate by insisting he work on stuff before he thinks he has to. But I try to back off and let him fail sometimes, too.

Basically I'm figuring it out as I go along.

Anyway, I like and agree with your three principles.

Anonymous said...

Typo up there: it should say some of my siblings could have used a lot more.

tiburon said...

I completely agree with you. We are Parenting with Love and Logic parents and we are big on choices around here. Some people think that is cold - but it teaches our kids that there are consequences.

And that is big.

Omgirl said...

I have to laugh a little as I write this because, well, my oldest is in PREschool. But still, I can't help but feeling a little chagrined when she is a difficult child at school, not learning up to par, isn't interested in finishing her work or achieving or pleasing her teachers and she's only four. What will it be like when she is 10 or 15 or 20??? I worry about this issue already. You're gonig to have to be my mentor when I get there!

Mrs. Organic said...

omgirl - maybe by then I will have it figured out. :)

kado! said...

great post.

my oldest tries SO hard...puts in 100% effort, sits down right after school and gets to his homework with out me even suggesting it...and he struggles a bit with actual letter grades. The teachers have nothing but wonderful things to say about him...and so the actual letter does not matter to me when I see the effort there!

when I was young on the other hand I got bad grades because I really just did not care...i worried more about sports and friends...so no excuse for me!