Sunday, June 24, 2012

End of school daze

It's finally over. The predawn awakenings, mad rushes to the school bus, navigating a whole new school and way of life, logging hours of homework, trying to fit all those extracurricular activities into one 24-hour period while maintaining newly-found friends and former schoolmates. It's been a rush, it's been a nightmare.

And it probably hasn't been easy for Earbaby either.

Seriously, it's been 10 months of bumps in the road interspersed with smooth sailing, the paradox of seventh grade. EB started out swimmingly, making honor roll marks, then getting too complacent as the work got harder. She stumbled through the third term, recovered somewhat in the fourth, and now has lurched into the summer with decent passing grades, helped by an incredible teacher from her former school who agreed to tutor her in math.

And she has grown. We all have.

At the beginning of the school year, the guidance counselors told parents of how to check their children's grades to make sure assignments were done. But EB's dad and I hadn't had to check her assignments or homework since about fourth grade, mostly because she had learned that particular self-discipline from Sister Avis (thank you, Sister). EB kept a detailed agenda book, but also checked in with friends when she wasn't sure about the work. EB's dad and I also got a little too complacent, taking her at her word that she was doing OK.

We've all learned this last school year to know when to ask for help. We're trying to impress on EB the truism that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. We don't think she's dumb (her words) if she can't grasp the concepts of pre-algebra (I certainly can't), but waiting until she's struggling and failing isn't a wise decision. I'm already trying to set up tutoring for next year when the stakes get even higher and harder.

Along the way, EB has realized that she no longer wants to be on the gymnastics team. She'll take a tumbling class this summer, and it may keep her skills up to incorporate in her dance, whet her appetite for the team again, or neither of the above. 

As she branches out and tries different things, we're also in a state of adjustment. I had to let go of her gymnastics team myself, as well as the piano and voice she gave up this year. At the same time we don't want her to easily discard everything. She picked up the trumpet and was in the beginning band, then started making noises about not going back to it next year. We want her to continue at least another year. She also wants to try the chorus at school and is balking only because that might keep her from having any study periods. I'm encouraging her to try that too. She can study at home. I found that not allowing her to spend the bulk of her evening in front of the television greatly increases her time to study. The new rule incorporated (much too late in the school year) is no television on school nights. Her grades greatly improved when she had the choice of studying and/or going to bed early instead wasting of mindless hours watching mindless shows.

Summer will bring a whole new challenge. She's missing out on a couple of opportunities for camp. The music one comes too late in July to accommodate her and our vacation schedule. The math "camp" required 15 hours of preparation at an inflexible time. She has only three books she has to read over the summer (last year it was five) and I don't want to have to harangue her all summer about them. In the meantime, we're looking for something to keep her math skills up through the next two months and activities that will fill time without costing us (me) an arm and a leg. Movies, mani-pedis, and shopping excursions all end up in the hundreds of dollars range.

But we're also aware that EB will need some down time so I'm not particularly worried about her sleeping in, chatting online or texting her  friends or even being a little bored. School will be coming around again before we all know it.

She has worked really hard these last 10 months. She deserves a respite before the school daze begins anew.

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