I have just over one year before I send my son Oliver off to kindergarten. He loves to learn, and is also a perfectionist, and I hope that he can retain the former characteristic, without feeling the need to maintain the latter. I hope he’s not the same student that I was.
A pretty classic first child example, I was a great student from elementary school right up to high school graduation. In many ways I realize I lucked out – school wasn’t that hard for me. I did my homework and studied when the material was more challenging, but it was never a huge struggle. There wasn’t a semester when I didn’t make the honor roll, and I got all As in high school.
All of that might sound obnoxious, but as I’ve had time to reflect, I wish I did things differently. I wanted so badly to have a perfect GPA, that as I continued in high school, I hesitated to sign up for classes that seemed interesting and challenging, in favor of classes I knew I could ace. I transferred into a lower level math class because I was getting a B in my current class. I decided to avoid taking classes that I knew a particular group of students was in because I thought they were making fun of me. I avoided AP English, even though English was my best subject, knowing I may not fare as well when my writing was compared to other top students. Instead, you’d find me as a teacher’s aide one period, in yearbook another period, and then goofing off in a parenting class. Sure, I had a few non-elective classes, but I gave myself plenty of cushion to make sure I’d have time to devote to ace the tougher ones.
So I graduated high school with a fantastic GPA and an inclination to take the easy way out when it came to academics. In college, I struggled with the required freshman math and science classes, having ducked out of the tough work in high school. While I loosened up and started taking classes that I thought were interesting and enjoyable, I wish I pursued a few classes I didn’t, based strictly out of fear.
While no one hopes their child gets BAD grades, I hope that I can help my son learn from his mom’s mistakes when it comes to education and focus more on his curiosity and effort than his grades. My biggest goal is that my children all start and end their K-12 education as students who love to learn. I also hope that they grow into adults who aren’t afraid to take risks or challenge themselves. There are definite advantages that come with a high GPA (roughly half of my college was paid for with academic scholarships), but I am confident that there are even bigger advantages in adulthood for those who are curious and bold.
What type of student were you? Are you hoping your kids inherit your traits or are you working to instill different educational values for them?