Friday, January 6, 2017

Advising another parent and now living it myself

Any number of years ago, a neighbor asked me if I could tutor her 7th grader in math.  Her concern stemmed from the district's online grade checker, which she often inspected.  She noticed that her daughter's daily work was fine, but she often bombed tests.  The mom worried that her daughter wouldn't do well in college because a college course's final grade might only be the combination of a couple tests.

I completely understood her concern and agreed to help.

My "tutoring" of the 7th grader was mostly therapy.  I asked what the girl didn't understand, and she proceeded to tell me her version of the problem, including that her mom put too much pressure on her about grades and other insights about her family dynamics, including a lack of disciplinary consistency which the 7th grader resented.  (Yes, children actually want consistent discipline.)

I knew I was way out of my league, and that math was not the real problem.  I let the mom borrow a copy of Parenting Teens with Love and Logic.  I don't know how helpful this was to her.

Now, some years later, I am in that mom's shoes.  N's grades are fine, as that 7th grader's grades were, but similarly, N doesn't do a bang-up job on her big tests.

So what do I do?

I do nothing, other than say, "Well, you didn't do too well on that test."

I let N get further along in her education and discover on her own that if she bombs tests, she will deal with consequences that are likely worse (and more powerful) than any nagging I can do.

I refuse to take responsibility for my children's dumb-assedness.

I also refuse to get too worked up especially when I know that in some classes, she is given meaningless busy work each week and 100 questions on a test that is basically regurgitating stuff.

I admit to recently checking the grade portal often, mostly because she had no grades in math and no math papers have come home during 3rd grading period, which gave me zero indication of how she is doing at all, whether it be great on homework and sucky on tests or the opposite.

On a side note:  Yesterday I checked the portal again and saw that a grade had been entered.  Just a actual assignments. Her grade is an A so I can assume the following:
1. She actually deserved an A.
2. The teacher saw how many times I was checking the portal and just gave her an A to avoid issue with me, even though I just want to know her actual grade, whether it be an A or an F.

If I do decide to email the teacher, this will be the 2nd time in 3 grading periods that I ask him about not showing assignments in the portal.  Not sure at this point.  Might be the subject of another blog post.  

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