Monday, June 11, 2007

Summer School!

We just learned that our son must attend summer school. He has been flirting with flunking math all year. He might not actually fail, but he is borderline enough that he has to take and pass 5th grade math in summer school before he can enter 6th grade. As is par for the course, Mom and Dad have very different approaches to this, and very different backgrounds.

As a life long A/B student (unless you count all the classes I cut in high school and college), I can't imagine coming close to failing a subject in grammar or middle school. It would never have been tolerated by my family (my mother having been a valedictorian). Part of me wants to scream, "where is your motivation?!?" Another part of me sees that he really didn't think this would be the consequence of his mediocre effort, and maybe this in and of itself will be punishment enough.

My husband, who I am convinced is smarter than I am by a mile, was definitely NOT the student I was. He was also not encumbered with the expectations that I was. What he is reacting to, as much as the poor performance, is the expense and scheduling hassles. Since Christopher attends Catholic school, summer school is not free, unless you enroll in a public school program in MAY, before you actually know you will NEED summer school.

What is ironic is that while I was brought up to be a high achiever, as an adult I am not nearly as ambitious as you'd think. From a young age, I knew that I would never live up to my mother's expectations. Sometime around 10th grade, I stopped trying. I decided to live up to my own expectations. When my mother asked me in complete frustration what I wanted out of life, I told her I wanted to be happy. She asked me if that was enough. I told her it was more that I could hope for. And in my angst ridden teenage years, that was absolutely no exaggeration. As an adult, I am fine--I am a professional woman, and support my family.

So, how to approach my beloved son. This is a child that I absolutely adore. I don't mean to be trite. Of course I love him, but more importantly, I LIKE him. This is a person I want to hang out with. Such a wonderful spirit. Honest heart. He is kind, sensitive, loving, smart, sarcastic and funny. And completely un-freaking-motivated when it comes to school, or many other things that take actual effort. Do I accept this trait, and trust that down the line, a switch will be thrown, and he will begin to see that effort is both required and rewarded? Do I try every motivational trick in the book, and invent a few, in the hope that something will take root and grow?

I don't want to harangue or belittle him. I don't want him saddled with my disapproval, or set off in him a disastrous strain of self loathing. He hated failing math tests. Maybe I should have gotten a tutor earlier. Getting him to study is pulling teeth, even when he sees the fruits of his labor. English, vocabulary, reading, no problem! Social studies, he can also perform well, when he pays attention. Science is ok for now, but math, not so much. Ok I guess that is perspective.

So, for the month of July, we found Christopher an accredited math tutor. He will have one-on-one sessions, and hopefully benefit both academically and emotionally. Maybe it will be just the boost in self esteem he needs to tackle 6th grade, and beat it into submission.



Bridget said...

parenting is tricky no? how to find that balance between helping your kids be the best they can be but also allowing them room to do it on their own. let me know if you figure it out. :)

David said...

I can totally relate to having problems with math. My wife still can't understand why she always has to figure out the tip when we go out. I did a summer at Washington Irving High School. That place was god-awful but at least I didn't have to go there the rest of the year.

Anyway, there's no easy answers with kids right? You're obviously balancing being a parent with being a friend to your kid and that's admirable. He's very lucky to have that kind of mom. :)

SOUL: said...

so..did the tutor "pay off"? did he make it without summer school? because we talked about, and tossed around the idea when we saw the prospect coming...but we didn't go that route...and the thirteen yesr old daughter...stubborn minded as your son seems... and as good in other classes as well... ended up in summer school...for what she now says, will NEVER happen again!
she made great grades all the way was only four weeks long TX. we also had to pay 200.00 for it! but the thing wasn't that she wasn't smart enough to pass the class in the school was motivational.
did you find that to be your sons problem too.
just curious.

my first time here. i saw you on my blog.

not sure how you found me, but we have more in common than you probably realize yet.
i love that movie sixth sense too.
the kid thing..that too..only yours is younger, but they sound a lot alike..oh yours is younger too.
oh and my kid LOVES new york. we only got to visit there once for a "working vacation" the cold...but it was fun. she's always wanted to go back..we haven't made it yet tho.
she wants to go to college and live there when shes older. (Juliard)
i write...and publish..hmmmm :))
ok... that's about all my feeble memory can handle at this point...but i shall be back to read more again!
oh btw... the cleaning fairies are somethin else aren't they? quite the motivational tool! :))
c ya later
have a great day!

SOUL: said...

oops... i said "yours is younger twice.. i meant younger..and male." i'll be ok...sometimes i try to type to fast, and my mind can't keep up!

also wanted to say.. about the time thing on your 8 things post... gawd too... i hate to wait. when i am ready to go somewhere, or need to be somewhere... i am ready! let's go. i need to be there... and don't keep me waiting. or if i'm late... i go into a panic attack. i hate that.
i can thank my mother for that one i guess. :)

rp said...

Hi, Soul. Didn't see this comment until tonight!!! I am updating the summer school thing right now :) Glad you stopped by, and hope you continue to. The people you find are potentially endless when visiting favorite blogs, reading and leaving comments. I'll be by yours when making the rounds!!