Thursday, February 16, 2012

Is It Just Me?

Last year, around this time, Beege was chosen as the only kid in her Senior Kindergarten class to take part in the annual Speech arts festival.

And she was good. She wrote her speech, she practiced a couple of times every day, and she was prepared. Her speech was concise, she stayed almost exactly to her one minute limit, and she even had a joke in there.

So when she told me that she would be writing a speech again this year, I was looking forward to helping her with it.
"Oh no, Mummy, we're writing it in school."
Okay. Well, do you want help deciding on a topic?
"Oh, no, Mummy, we're supposed to bring our favourite toy to school and write about that."
Oh. Okay. Well, do you want to practice with me?
"No thank you, Mummy. I might not even get picked to do mine. We're going to vote."
Oh. Okay.
When she brought her speech home to practice a couple of days ago, along with a "good work award" and told me that she had indeed been picked out of the kids in her class to give her speech, I'm not quite sure what I was expecting; but I know that I wasn't expecting a twenty second speech made up of three or four word sentences.

I know that my daughter, despite being six years old is capable of much more. And I'm not just saying that because I'm her mum and I think she's awesome; I'm saying that because I have video of her speech from last year. She is eloquent and thoughtful, and has a lot to say about everything.

She got a lot of praise at school for this year's lackluster speech. Really, there was nothing wrong with the speech, except that it wasn't on par with her usual work. Maybe it was "fine for a first grader". Maybe it shouldn't bother me at all.

But when telling her that she did a great job -- she said her eight lines calmly and clearly -- I feel like I'm blowing sunshine up her butt. I know what she is capable of; is it wrong to feel like she should live up to that potential?

Parents spend a lot of time jumping up and down with pompoms around their kids these days. Should we not tell them when we know they could do better? I don't want my daughter going out into the world with the expectation that everyone is going to cheer when she does anything, no matter how much work she put into it. I want her to work hard and be proud of her work.

I don't care if she is the best, I just want her to be her best.

10 comments:

  1. I am with you on this. You could tell her what you think about it, but in such a way that she still has respect for her teacher and what they are doing at school. I also have issues sometimes with what's going on in the classroom, but I explain to my kids why I think that way. They understand that school is not perfect but it shouldn't stop them doing their best.

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    1. Her teacher is wonderful, and I do understand that she's got 19 other kids to work with. I also realise that because Beege *is* so capable, she gets left to do things on her own while the kids who need help get the attention. I *understand* it, but it doesn't stop me wanting her to be a little more challenged.
      The reason I'm not comfortable talking to her more about it is because she got such positive feedback from the school; I don't want to seem disrespectful to her teacher. I have the utmost respect for her and think she is generally doing a great job with Beege.

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  2. The speech wasn't awesome, but I blame that more on the school. Why were they given a template. When praising her, let her know that you're proud of how confident she was, and how she spoke so well. I think she knows she could do better but it really didn't seem that her grade had much in the way of freedom to be creative

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    1. Yeah, but even within a template, she did the bare minimum.

      I did tell her that I was proud of how she presented her speech; just not that I'm proud of the speech itself.

      I'm pretty sure she knows she could do better. She didn't really seem that impressed with it either.

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  3. ..and congratulations for having an eloquent daughter!

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  4. I agree 100%. I have made my kids go back and add more color to pictures because I can tell they got lazy at the end. We know their abilities. Joey and I went 10 rounds today trying to read the first Dick & Jane book and he refused to cooperate. I know he's playing me. xoxo Tiger Mom

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    1. Right? It's one thing if they actually can't do something, it's completely another if they're just being lazy.

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  5. We just talked about this a couple of weeks ago in our small group. I agree - I think we should lovingly encourage our kids to live up to their potential.

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    1. Exactly! If we don't, we're totally letting them down.

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