It’s easy to put way too much into our kids’ achievements. There, I said it.
I want to help my kids to be successful and improve their skills and knowledge, and I can’t see any reason why that isn’t a good thing. However, their learning and skills do not make me a better person or parent.
I caught myself in this trap recently as I thought about Hannah taking the annual achievement test required for homeschooling. This will be our first year taking the test and I started to wonder what was on it and how to prep her for it.
When I learned that the math portion covers multiplication, I started to worry. Hannah is two weeks shy of finishing our second grade math curriculum, but our curriculum doesn’t cover multiplication until third grade. She’s never seen a multiplication problem. Part of me wondered if I should delay the test or if I should teach her just a little for the test.
But no! I don’t want to fall into the trap of teaching for a test. At the core, I believe that is wrong. I don’t believe in rushing kids so they can perform the right answers and I know that I didn’t do multiplication in school until third grade. She’s not “behind”. In fact, I don’t even think that tests are a good indicator of what we know and how well we can apply that to life.
But me, I wanted Hannah to rock that test. It doesn’t matter for anything. If she does terribly, it doesn’t matter to the state. Taking the test is purely a formality. In vanity, I wanted her to rock the test. As an affirmation that I am doing well. That I am a good parent and a good teacher. And lots of hogwash like that.
For all that I think what I value is real life experiences and learning in its own time and learning to live in real life rather than focusing on the narrow bands of academics, the rubber met the road and I was surprised how much it bothered me that I was setting her up to do poorly. On a test that doesn’t reflect at all what she knows or who she is as a person.
So we’re just going to take the test and get it over with. I have to live what I believe; that means we do our best and move on. And it doesn’t mean a thing, except I will be healthier in knowing that my kids’ success or lack thereof is not where my value comes from. If they are good at an activity, I can be proud of them- for them. They are their own people.
Really, you can laugh at me! I’m already over it.
Have you ever found yourself in this place with a test or something else your kids have done? What helped you?