Monday, February 7, 2011

Average Work

A few weeks ago Lael asked me what an F was on her test. I explained that it meant she failed. That she had too many wrong answers.  She was very upset about this. I emailed her teacher and found out that the class had taken a unit math test and many of the kids did poorly.  It annoys me because that means that some kids did fine. Mine was not one of them.  Her teacher explained that Lael KNEW this stuff but rushed and made simple mistakes.  This annoys me as well.  It doesn’t matter what she KNOWS.  If she can’t pass her tests it doesn’t matter.  She assured me that she was going to go over the test with the class and have them retake it.

Along with the report card a progress folder was sent with class assignments and tests from the past quarter.  Included was that test and the retake.  She went from an F to a B.  Even then she made silly mistakes.  She does very well in spelling.  Some tests she got every word correct plus the bonus words. 

Maybe I have to come to the realization that this is who she is.  She does just enough.  She has two smart parents and she is fully capable but I know in my gut that she can do better.  Do I push her? Is this something she has to want for herself?

I asked her teacher to send extra work home so that I can practice with her.  Part of me doesn’t even want to bother because she will mumble and groan the entire time. 

Have any of you had this experience? A smart child who doesn’t seem to focus and apply themselves?

I am at a loss. I don’t want a child that is just getting by.  What makes it even worse is that she is compared to her sister. The one that gets Above Average marks on every report card. The one that is doing math and reading at a grade above where she should be.

I know every child is different but they are equally smart. What should I do?



  1. My son. Smart kid, but every now and then, he falls off the wagon. The first part to blame is him. He knows he's gotta do better. He's older than Lael, but we've been going through this for a while now. The other part to blame is us, the parents. We tend to get lazy and just figure that whatever he's getting as far as education in the class is enough, and it'll take care of itself. If I've learned nothing else from having two older kids, it's that when my 3 y/o goes to school, I'm going to be involved in EVERYTHING, and not take her education for granted, which I did with the older ones. As parents, it's so hard to discipline ourselves to turn off the tv or pc and read with our kids, or go over some extra schoolwork, because we barely have time for ourselves! In my humble opinion, I would be just as proud, probably more so, of my child being a kind, caring, responsible, average student, who's going to grow up to be a productive adult, then one who's getting straight A's and B's, but may not be all those things that really matter. :-)

  2. Such a tricky issue. As I got older my parents gave very little input on schooling, but I do remember my mom being a stickler for the basics when we were in elem. Part of it may just be that she is smart (bored) and can turn it on when she wants to or finds it more interesting like w/ spelling. It may be enough to have convos about what 'silly mistakes' mean now and again and over time she will hopefully learn to self correct and check her own work. The sibling thing is HARD. I never had to work as hard as my sister and always got better grades. Yet in a lot of ways she has done more in terms of career and achievement than I have.

    Long-winded way of saying that I think that developing a work ethic is a thing that happens over time w/ time spent in non-fun rote tasks, drills, extra sheets, etc. Not overkill, but just an appreciation for the benefit of doing non-preferred work.

  3. E likes to rush through things because she likes to be the first one done. NOT GOOD. The "timed" tests that they take don't help this situation. I work with her a lot on looking over the homework entirely (she likes to skip questions) and I've threatened to remove "fun" things if I see work come home from school with "Incomplete" on it. That seems to have helped our situation a lot.

    AND...Lael is one of the youngest in her grade, right? I think the fact that she is "developing" is a lot better than the possible alternative.

  4. Awesome Stepkid R. is the poster child for "smart but happy with average." It's maddening, but at some point, I had to decide to let it go (he's 18 now). I wish I had answers for you, but I don't.

  5. As a high school teacher, I have seen gobs and gobs and gobs of these kids. (Not that Lael is...maybe it's just a phase?) It's so frustrating!! It's just me...but I would gently push...not too hard, but enough so that she knows you're serious and you want her to take school seriously.

  6. I agree with Tiffany. Personally, if I know that my child is capable of doing more, I would give a gentle nudge and help her/him to understand the choices. One of the things that I am most thankful for that my parents did for me was to make me understand that I am responsible for my actions. They never went ballistic when I didn't get marks that they knew I was capable of. They calmly explained to me how important it was that I perform well in school, etc. Lael needs to buy in on the "better marks" game and it's not enough that you want it for her. :)


Those laughing with me...or at me.