Saturday, September 3, 2011

How Much Is Too Much

So I have been mentally preparing myself for the start of public school for a couple of years. Okay. The truth is I have been looking forward to this for a long time. I love watching my children learn and try new activities. I love that our elementary school is much more diverse than our middle class expensive day care center. Jacob is now making friends with children from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds, cultural backgrounds and family types. He isn't the only kid in his school who has a single mom, he isn't the only child adopted from Ethiopia and he is one of many children who have siblings who have different skin colors. I loved watching the families walk into school yesterday and seeing how many really looked a lot like ours. I knew there would be a few but there were so many ours didn't even stand out. No one batted an eye when my dark blond son and Ethiopian son both called me mom. It was normal there.

So Jacob is off and running. He starts flag football next weekend. He is in youth swim lessons instead of preschool swimming. He has already completed and brought home his first assignment. (He drew a picture of himself and wrote his name. The original is hanging in the classroom but the teacher photcopied them so the parents could see what the kids did their first week). I am now finding that all of those years of preparation are paying off.

So now the question is what type of a mom will I be. The media loves to give moms names such as helicopter moms and tiger moms. So what kind of mom will I be? I'm not sure the name I would give myself. Maybe some of my readers can help me with it. Here is a brief description.

-School is important. My children will be expected to complete all of their work, correct any mistakes and learn as much as they possibly can. Bs will be acceptable but will require addtional work to try to improve them. A's are the goal and A- the lowest possible without extra work with Mom. Extra work may just be having Mom check work over before turning it in or it may be extra math problems and reading time at night.

-Extra work will be completed after home work or on weekends on any subject area with a B- or lower. In elementary school with the number ratings it will be anything below 3 on a scale of 1-4. 3s or 4s just mean a pat on the back and no extra work beyond teacher assigned work. 4s will be rewarded with praise and if there are mostly 4s with a special reward at the end of the semester such as choosing any place to eat dinner or getting to choose a fun activity for the family.

-Missed school days because of illness or emergencies will result in Mom picking up work from the teacher and bringing it home to complete. The work can wait until the child is healthy enough to get out of bed and begin playing but it will be completed before returning to school. Every parent knows when there child begins to act "normal" and show signs of being well again. That is the point where the homework will come out if it wasn't done earlier.

- Frequent communication with teachers. No, I'm not the mom who emails the teacher several times a week to make sure everything is going well. It's not that I don't want to but I realize I need to let my child learn to swim or sink for himself. If the child is bringing home good grades and the work is completed, there may be very little to talk about and it can wait until conferences. If the child is struggling, then frequent emails will be exchanged until the child is no longer struggling. It doesn't have to be daily but it will be as often as necessary to make sure everyone is succeeding. As well as offering to come in and help out when the class has field trips or for special occassions such as Ethiopian holidays.

- I believe teachers should be able to teach the way they want to at the rate they want. As a parent, it is my job to provide extra support if I feel my child isn't learning as much as they should or is struggling in any area. Especially if he has a teacher that may not be pushing as much as other teachers in the area. The teacher won't be hearing me complain that the kids aren't reading enough or learning enough, I will just quietly supplement it at home.

- I won't be hiring tutors to make sure my child is valedictorian. I won't be scheduling "cultural" lessons three or four nights a week to try to make him more well-rounded. He will be allowed to just be a kid, relax and play every day. They are only allowed to be in one sport other than swimming lessons during the week.

So that is current philosophy on parenting. Now I am sure the more experienced parents out there are laughing at me. Who wouldn't? I laugh at new moms too. My expectations and philosophy will change as I learn, my kids learn and life goes on. After all, isn't it just plain life that often gets in the way of our ideals and plans? Hey, life happens. My kids and I will continue to roll with the punches and adjust as needed to meet our lifestyles and needs.

So what kind of label would you give this mom?

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