Summer of Learning (Part 2)

When I was pregnant for the very first time (with Abby), I remember hoping that our child would be intelligent (above average, AG intelligent).  For some people, that may sound like a horrible thing to hope for.  But, for me, that was all I knew and I wasn't sure that my perfectionist tendencies could adjust if my child wasn't the same way I had been because I had always set high standards for everything (and everyone) in my life. 

We were blessed with a remarkably strong-willed child with intelligence to boot.  In the early years, I thought it was fabulous that Abby began talking early and was always very articulate for her age.  As she grew older, I began to realize having a really bright kid poses a whole other set of challenges.  Those challenges finally came to a head in third grade.

We had been really lucky in kindergarten and first grade - Abby was assigned to seasoned teachers who were able to quickly adapt to Abby's personality and intelligence.  They either referred her for enrichment in another classroom or provided her with additional work to keep her engaged and to keep her from talking to the other kids :-) In second grade, her teacher was very nice.  Very bubbly.  Very "let's be friends."  I really liked the teacher to start with...only to discover that she never held Abby accountable.  When I raised concerns about Abby not completing homework (that I didn't even know she had missed for over 5 months), the teacher wasn't concerned because she knew that Abby understood the concepts.  That bothered her dad and I, but it didn't seem to bother the teacher or the administration.  So, Abby began to equate being smart with not having to work very hard.  Thank you, cute teacher (NOT!).

Third grade was a nightmare.  The nicest thing I can say about her original teacher is, well, I'll have to get back to you.  As it turned out, she wasn't invited to return after Christmas break.  By late January, her replacement (God bless her) was in for a real challenge.  The entire class had been basically running amok and no real "teaching" had taken place.  By this point, Abby truly saw no real need to put much effort into school.  Thankfully, the new teacher was quick to identify Abby's strengths and weaknesses.  She also realized that Abby was fully capable of all the work given to her, but felt that Abby wasn't applying herself or putting forth much effort.  And, she wasn't going to give her a free pass either.  (Finally, someone who "gets it.")  Abby had a tough time adjusting to this renewed concept of learning, but she started coming around the last couple of weeks of school.  (Better late than never, right?)

As parents, we felt that Abby's entire class had really been let down by the school (so much more backstory that I'm not sharing).  And, we really lost our sense of trust regarding our daughter's education.  So, Abby will be moving to a new school in the fall.  And, to prepare for fourth grade, Abby will be working on math concepts over the summer.  Concepts that should have been taught before Christmas.  Concepts that require WORK to learn.  Concepts = multiplication tables and fractions.  Abby was really upset when we first told her.  But, she's coming around.  She is making the choice to practice some math skills on her own.  And, for that, I'm so thankful.  I hate being "that parent" that makes their child do schoolwork over the summer, but I think it will benefit her in the long run.

So, while I'm still very thankful to have a bright child, I'm also well aware that having a bright child doesn't necessarily mean that parenting is easier during the school-aged years.  As parents, we each have our own challenges that we face and no two children or challenges are alike.  I've learned that I need to fully embrace the qualities that my own children possess instead of trying to change them to meet my own vision of "the perfect child."  While that sounds so obvious and simple, it can be a real challenge.  It looks like we're all learning a bit this summer.

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