School is an entirely different ballgame these days. Full days of Kindergarten, common core math, and technology for everything. It moves at a faster pace and academics are stressed at a very early age. For my child, school is hard. As a parent, it is so difficult to see him struggle, especially when I didn’t have the same experiences.
When I was in kindergarten, we had half-days of school and small classroom sizes. I remember playing house, learning letters, coloring, and resting on our carpet squares. We had snack time and lots of play time. We learned to tie our shoes, wait in lines, and share.
As I grew, I looked forward to and loved fall. Back-to-school shopping, the cooler weather, and the start of the new school year. (It didn’t hurt that my birthday fell right around the same time!) I loved the excitement of a new classroom, finding out who my teacher was, and seeing my friends in my classes.
Moving into first grade, we started with our academics. We had reading groups and started some simple math. Reading came easy to me, and I enjoyed the challenges of math. I truly loved to learn.
When my oldest son started kindergarten, I was excited for him. I thought he would love school as much as I did, and we would have something to bond over.
It didn’t exactly happen like that.
While he didn’t hate it, he also didn’t wake up every morning excited to go to school. He didn’t come home with stories about new things he learned, or even new friends he made. Even though it was only kindergarten, he did have some homework. While it was pretty simple and mostly fun projects, getting him to do that homework was like pulling teeth. But, I just brushed it off. He was tired from a full-day of school. It was an adjustment. I mean, it was only kindergarten.
It wasn’t only kindergarten.
First Grade was an even bigger struggle. Again, he didn’t hate school, but he definitely didn’t enjoy it. He was always excited for any day off, and looked forward to the weekends. Doing homework with him was a struggle for both of us. He wanted to be doing anything but reading or math, and I just wanted him to be great at it.
However, it didn’t come easy for him. It was a struggle figuring out reading concepts. Math didn’t make sense to him. He needed extra help in reading at school, and his teacher recommended summer school in both reading and math. It crushed me. What did I do wrong?
I had been reading him books from the time he was a baby. We had educational toys, went to library story hours, watched Baby Einstein. I guess I just thought learning would come natural to him, as it did to me.
Second grade was another change for my son. Learning went at an even faster pace, and I was really worried he wouldn’t keep up. Luckily, there were some changes that helped us both.
First, he had an amazing teacher. She was caring, kind, and patient, yet realistic. Her teaching style really meshed with his learning style, which she really taught me about. He needed someone that was nurturing and encouraging. She praised every improvement he made, and showed me how important that praise was to him. It made him want to work harder.
So, now I try to be more patient and kinder with my words. I remind myself not to get frustrated with the pace that he is learning to read. I also have to remind myself that it’s okay to work hard to be good at something.
Also, even though he doesn’t love reading like I did, it doesn’t mean we can’t bond over learning. There are so many other things that he loves and is great at. He’s a beautiful artist, he’s super creative, and he loves history. He can build an entire Lego set in a few hours, tell me all about ancient Egypt, and make the most amazing model of the Titanic (plus, a Power Point presentation to go with it!)
Even though school is hard for him, he is learning to like it. He may never love it like I did, but that’s okay because I love him.