Thursday, May 14, 2009

Tightrope Walking

We're nearing the end of the school year. Sort of. Due to two hour delays and lots of days off, the school year ends on June 22nd (which is my birthday; happy birthday to me). Next year Meg will be in 3rd grade, and at a new school. In our district, our town has an elementary K-2 school, the other town also has a K-2 school, and then in 3rd grade they all go to the same school. Our rec program is for both towns, so the kids already know each other, somewhat. These kids will go all the way through high school together. I think it's pretty neat, since the city Doug and I grew up in had 6 elementary school, two middle schools and then a single high school. He and I didn't even MEET until our senior year, in Calculus.

This school year has gone really well for Meg. She had the new teacher on the block, which was worrisome at first since we knew nothing about her, but she is fabulous. Unfortunately she didn't make the budget cuts and won't be back next year and we're sad about that. Last year's issues with the GT (Gifted and Talented) teacher are gone; the new teacher has been really great for her to work with (go here if you want to know what I'm talking about). We were notified last week that actual testing for the Gifted and Talented program will be done with a recommendation from a teacher or parent, and today got a notice that Meg has been recommended for testing. We're very proud of her, and not totally surprised. She reads voraciously and I think her reading level is around fifth grade. However, we don't care one way or the other whether she actually gets into the program, as long as she continues to do well in school and still loves going.

But it's a balancing act, a tightrope walk. We want her to excel; what parent doesn't want to see their child succeed. On the other hand, she's eight years old, and we don't want to push her beyond her capabilities. We're waiting for that moment that she is willing to push herself, and we're seeing glimmers of that this year. We want her to be challenged, but not so much that school becomes a place she doesn't enjoy. She already thinks we want her to be perfect, no matter how hard we try to tell her that we just want her to to her best. That really is all we're asking for~that she does her best. We know she can do it because we've seen it.

I feel for her at times. She's the oldest, as I am, so the rules we make and the decisions we make must seem so arbitrary to her; I know I sometimes thought that my parents were flying by the seat of their pants. She's our guinea pig if you will, our test subject. Sometimes we're walking blind, throwing things out there that we hope stick because it's all we have at that moment. We do everything we do in hopes that she'll grow up happy and healthy, but that doesn't always mean we're doing it right. We're just doing our best and we hope it sticks.


Jill said...

I will have to learn from you, as I'm pretty sure my oldest would qualify for those type of programs when he starts school and don't want to push him too hard and make him hate it. Good luck!!

AndreAnna said...

I'm glad I have you as a friend with an older child so I have someone to go to.

Astarte said...

Congrats on the smartypants girl!!!!

Have you asked her if she wants to do it? Josie has been in a TAG program for a few years now, and loves it. Hers is a pull-out program, not an all-day one, and kids can be pulled for reading, math, or both. We haven't had a hard time with it being too hard, and to be honest, the smaller nature of the class, and the varied methods they use for learning (projects, computers, videos, etc) makes it easier for her to grasp concepts that might be more difficult for her to get in a larger class where she wouldn't be able to ask as many questions, or get so much attention. Plus, there's *time* for her to ask, since the teacher isn't focused on the just keeping the lower-achieving students afloat. I don't know anyone whose child is in a TAG program that doesn't like it, and to be honest, it may be more of a boost for her self esteem to be included in it rather than being left behind while all the other higher-achieving kids - probably including some of her friends, since smart kids tend to hang out together - go without her. If she hates it, she could always go back to a regular classroom, but honestly, it seems to me that the learning is a lot more fun in the TAG class. Josie looks forward to being able to go.

I hope that helped without sounding all preachy. :)

Brooke Brown said...

parenting is so tricky...push them, don't push them, leave them to make their own decisions. man, I agree that all the choices and how to approach them can be stressful. regardless of what you and doug choose (on any number of decisions) the kids will know that you love them. any decision wrapped up on love has to be good for something. sappy and cheesy? yep. true? double yep. :)

PS good for her! :) i think being pulled out can be interesting, fun and a definite confidence booster...