At our house, we specialize in “S,” for Satisfactory on report cards and “progress” reports. (We don’t tend to progress in these things.) Organization: S. Responsibility for personal belongings: S. Initiative (this is for asking questions about your homework when it’s recess time): S or N (Needs improvement). Etc. etc. etc. I want to tear up the paper. Go up to the roof and let tiny pieces cascade down in onto the lawn, preferably in the rain.
At home, I find the kids bursting over with a life and possibility not even remotely reflected in their report cards. I was a teacher once. I get that some parents want to ignore the failings of their children. This isn’t that. It’s a philosophical position about what report cards have to offer. Report cards say a little about language and math literacy and a lot about whether or not a child fits in the picture of a model elementary school student.
I found the following in the front of boy two’s notebook. It was an assignment from the beginning of the year. With boy two’s permission . . . his assignment:
Why I am Unique
Being outside is very important
I love to be outside
I love to read and read and read
Stuff I like to eat is homemade yogurt, muffins, eggs, melon
I own a chicken named Tailless
I like to fiddle and make stuff
I like to draw and make comics
I love to collect bugs, frogs, salamanders, snakes
I like to ride my bike
I make stuff with Lego
I like to climb
I like to be gross
I like to be with Misty the pony
I like to play with my sisters
I like to sing
I am flexible
I have a good spatial sense my mom says, so I am planning on being an architect
I am short and proud of it!
My ancestor was Sir Francis Drake. He was the second person ever to sail around the world.
I have a friend who swears by the theory that we shouldn’t spend our emphasis trying to fix the weaknesses we see in kids. Instead, we should figure out how to support their greatnesses. (He read this somewhere but I don’t remember where. I’m sourcing, “Conversations with Barclay.”)
I care a lot about the joys to be found in math and language literacy. But even above that, I’m going with creativity, a willingness to try new things, and deep respect for the gifts and proclivities every child finds growing inside themselves. This is what kids need nurtured.
I thanked the teachers for the progress reports. This is what my heart said.
Apologies for the barely satisfactory social development. Boy two is related to Sir Francis Drake and cannot keep his desk tidy, as he is getting ready to sail around the world.
Sincere thanks for your efforts,
The people financing the voyage