Two more days people. Two. More. Days. I am overwhelmed with excitement that summer break will be here before the week is over. Mom taxi is going in the garage, and the kids will have to take the city bus anywhere they want to go from today forward, I’m not even kidding.
Ok, maybe I’m kidding.
This last week or so of school has brought relief. No more homework, easier pick up schedules because of testing. No forgotten backpacks, because they don’t need one. And last week was official end of the year awards for my third grader. And all I can say about that is that: Awards from school can suck it.
See this kid…the tall one in the back.
Look at that face.
Does he look happy? Does he look proud?
Oh yes, he did receive an award…for learning his math facts. And every other six weeks, he’s received an award for A-B honor roll. He was so determined, and proud that he’s worked so hard, and just knew he was going to get A-B honor roll this time, too–and that meant for the entire year. But no…he made a 79 in math. To him, his hard work pretty much meant nothing.
Other kids got medals and trophies for attendance and reading. Not my kid. He couldn’t get those awards even if he tried. He’s took sickly to ever make it to school every single day for six weeks, so you can forget an entire school year. Then there is reading, let’s talk about reading.
My child is not a natural reader, and his first and second grade year in the Florida Public School system was disastrous. He was barely on level when he left first grade, even though the teacher insisted he would be fine and just needed a little extra help. By half way through second grade, his teacher labeled him and he was entire year behind in school. He was belittled and ridiculed for being who he was. We changed teachers, who punished him through her behavior system for missing spelling words. We worked with him at home, even though he threw books at our faces. We yanked him from public school and enrolled him in private. His teacher was patient and loving, but taught differently than public school. He improved and built some confidence. Then we moved to Texas.
We thought he might have a learning disorder. He was tested, and put in special groups and had one-on-one attention in order to teach him all that he had not been taught in the last two years. After a long school year of wondering and working and praying, last week I got a call from his teacher
“Mrs. Crawford, I want to let you know that Zac WILL be going to the fourth grade. I know that he has struggled, but we believe he truly is on track. He will be placed not promoted, so he will need Reading group starting the first week of fourth grade. ”
She continued, “Looking back I realize that when Zac came to third grade he really, truly did not know how to read. And now, even though he’s barely on level, he’s made it there. He’s improved so much!”
By the end of our conversation, I was in tears. He had overcome. Zac had pushed through the difficulty, he had dedicated himself to doing his best. He overcame his fear, and all the voices in his head telling him he was stupid and couldn’t do it. He conquered something huge, and worked hard. And was not recognized for it by the school, not even for a minute.
So this face this face is defeat and disappointment.
Now I get it, there will always be those kids who are super smart because they are born that way. Sure, they should get a high five for being themselves. But I sat and looked at all those kids on the floor waiting for their name to be called and wonder how many of them accomplished some major feat this year at school and no one gave a crap because they weren’t there everyday, and they couldn’t collect the most reading points, in that race for “who is the smartest.” I wondered how many kids wished they could get a trophy like that or get a medal, but their mom was an alcoholic and couldn’t always get them to school, or they just absolutely hated reading.
LBR (Let’s be real) not every kid likes to read. So what about Art and Music awards? What about awards for kids that recognize the things that are going to actually matter when they get out of school like
….and even Overcoming.
The American education system is whack and the older I become I wonder if it does more harm than good. Zac left school, in fact, he’s leaving third grade feeling not enough. He’s received the message that no matter how hard you work, you coming to school every single day is more important than never giving up when things get hard. He’s learned that reading the most books is more important than learning to read at all.
So this weekend–I am giving my own awards to my kids. I’m going to present them with the awards that matter to our family, that align with our values. We are going to cheer, and have trophies and eat cake. We are going to celebrate hard work and commitment and not giving up even when the cards are stacked against you. And we might even scream really loud “School Awards Can Suck It!”
What do you think? You think the award systems are fair? Has your kid ever deserved an award for something he/she never even got a wink for?
Comment and SHARE! (and encouragements to Zac are certainly welcome!)
LG|LP Tiff <3