Coming in for a landing

Hello, my name is Kerry and I have broken one of my own golden rules of parenting.  I have been secretly boarding my helicopter and flying circles around by kiddos homework.

I have always prided myself on not being a helicopter parent.  I don’t hover over them when play outside or chase them around a playground.  I let them solve their own friendship quarrels and ignore their tattle tales.  I’m always here for them for advice and support, but I’d rather let them trip up and teach them how to fix their mistakes than solve all their problems for them and give them the wrong sense of how the world works.

And then came homework.

How did school go from this place kids go to learn to this ultra-competative, stress-factory where every grade determines your child’s future success in life, and is therefore a reflection of good of a parent you are.  I blame those damn bumper stickers.  “My kid’s on honor roll” is somehow a guarantee you won’t have a 28-year-old living in your basement playing an online shooter games, screaming up at you to refill his chips.

I so wanted to be that parent who just let the kids do their homework, turn it in and let the grades fall where they may.  I know, in my heart, that the only way for them to truly have ownership over their grades is for them to receive what they earned through their own accomplishments.  But somehow, letting them take a hit academically was so much harder for me to let happen.  In my own defense, I am one of those people who always obsessed about getting a good grade, actually beating myself up if I missed one problem on a test.

It started innocently enough.  They would do their work, and I would look it over.  “Hey, number 2 and 4 are wrong.”  “You’re missing part of the information on number 7.”  My kids work was usually ok, but there were things here and there that could be tweaked to make the assignments better, the answers a little more in-depth.  My good ol’ perfectionist tendencies kicked in, and I went a little crazy.  I found myself saying things like, “What do we have for homework tonight,” and nagging about effort and grades.  On top of that, I began dreading coming home to the homework, the battles, and the ensuing lectures.

That’s when the epiphany happened.  I realized that the more time and energy I spent ‘helping’ my kids with their homework, the worse their attempts at the homework got.  It’s like they knew that mom was going to strap on her cape after school and fix everything for them, so they stopped making a good first effort.

My attempt to ‘rescue’ them from failing, taught them stop giving it their all.

Message received loud and clear.  Today I turned in my helicopter keys and exited aircraft.  I love my children and I know that they are capable of doing their own work.  I know that my value and ability as a parent is not tied to a math assignment and the best thing I can do for them is to let them succeed or fail on their own merit, standing beside them to support them along the way.

 

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And the winner is

 

Good teachers are hard to come by.  I should know because I switched my children’s school for just that reason.  I feel like I hit the jackpot when I put them at their current school.  It seems like each teacher was born to teach the grade they are in and challenges the kids to reach their full potential.

My son is in 5th grade and has the holy grail of teachers…. a loving, caring teacher who knows her material and her students well.  She has 25 years of experience and wisdom, understanding that she can push students to successes they didn’t know were possible.  She still believes in high expectations and high accountability.  She knows how to prepare kids for the upcoming challenges for middle school and high school, all the while growing their self-confidence.  If I haven’t made it clear enough yet, she is awesome-sauce!!!

Mrs. Mixan is one of those teachers who blends the latest technology and good ol’ hands on experiment into her lessons to really drive home the learning.

The latest science lesson was over bacteria, so of course the students dove into the text book, reading, taking notes, and making study guides.  They searched the internet and watched videos where super slo-mo was used to show the spray and projectile of a sneeze.  (If only the boy had seen it years ago!  Good news, he is finally covering his mouth and nose when he sneezes!)

Next, onto the hands on phase of learning.   Mrs. Mixan asked the students to put a piece of cheese, a piece of bread, slices of a tomato, and a cracked egg in a jar with a tablespoon of water, then seal it for a week.

Day 1

Here goes nothing.

Day 4

Ok. Not too bad.  I can see a few green spores.  Lots of humidity in there.

Day 8

 

YUCK!!!

Day 10

 

Ok, that is seriously gross!  The upside to this???  When Mrs. Mixan opened the jar and took samples of the mold spores for the microscope, my son had grown the most bacteria and was the classroom winner…of the most disgusting and smelliest creation.

Anyone out there suffering from strep throat???  I can save you the cost of a prescription.

My son was so proud of himself for his accomplishment.  I know the really winner was me and the rest of the parents who understand how incredible of an education he is getting and what a spectacular teacher he has guiding him on his way!

 

Slip Sliding Away

Aaahhh summertime.  The endless days of fun and play.  Bike rides, swing sets, camping, baseball, swimming, you name it.  All those fun outside activities you daydream about during the school year.

But as the heat wave continues, the day dreams fade and I’m racking my brain to think of things to do indoors, away from the 100+ weather.  Naps anyone?  My kids, on the other hand, were thinking….water, plastic and momentum.

Yesterday they broke out the old superman slip and slide.  I was never a fan.  I’m a neat freak and scared of getting hurt.  These two knuckleheads aren’t phased at all about running full speed towards a deathly slippery device and throwing themselves on it while collecting bruises, grass, and mud in various places.  While I’m not going to participate in the drippy mess, I’m more than happy to document it.

This is what pure joy looks like….

He’s Tebowing

Superstar!

When I watch them experience this and see these faces, it makes me both happy and sad.  I’m so happy that I have been able to give my children this innocence, this happy childhood, these lifetime memories.  It makes me a little sad, because I know there are children out there not being provided this same start in life.  It makes we want to hug them a little more, a little harder….and then spray them with a hose!

Conversations from my work…

Welcome to today’s installment of ‘conversations from my work.’   I have the pleasure to work with some great students who provide me with lots of great material for this here blog.  Here are a few of the conversations I had today.

 

Scene – Student attempting to correct me

Me – Yes, I know, they were trying to go smoke pot.

Student – No, it wasn’t pot.

Me – Ok, then what was it.

Student – It was weed. 

 

Scene – One student having a conversation with another

Student 1 – I have $19,000 in my savings account.  I might go buy an iPad.

Me – You could do that.

Student 2 – You could buy 2!

 

Scene – Student in my office, pulling at the fake tree I have.  I see him picking his nose.  Then I see him rip a fake stick off the fake tree.

Student – I’m going to stick this up my nose.

Me – I wouldn’t do that.

Student – (Sticks stick up his nose.)  Ooowwww!  It tickles!  (Then rips a fake leaf off of the tree and puts it in his mouth.) Hmmm, this doesn’t taste like a leaf.  It tastes like cloth!

Conversations from my work

(Just a reminder if you didn’t read my bio.  I’m a school social worker at a school for behaviorally disordered special education students.  My daily interactions and conversations are, shall we say, interesting.)

Here are a few conversations that I had or listened to at work this week.

1.  Scene – Teacher has given an assignment over cause and effect of air currents.

Student – “I can’t find the answer!!!!”

Teacher – “It’s in this paragraph.”

A few minutes later…. Student – “I still can’t find it.”

Teacher – “Read this sentence.”

A few minutes later…. Student – “I still can’t find it!!!”

Teacher – “The answer is the first sentence.”

Student puts pen to paper and writes ‘The first sentence.”

Teacher – “No, the answer is in the first sentence.”

Student – “Oh, so what is it?”

 

2. Scene – Staff member finds a quarter.

Staff member – “Hey look!  I found a quarter.”

Student – “It’s mine. I dropped it!”

Staff member – “Ok, whose picture is on it?”

Student – “I don’t know!”

 

3.  Scene – Student sitting in my office with me.

Student – “So are you full white?”

 

4. Scene – Student working on a worksheet from class.  The textbook is open in front of them.

Student – “I don’t know where to find these answers!”

Me – “If you read the section, you’ll find the answer.  The generally write the answers to those worksheet questions in the textbooks.”