Ever since Maddie started 6th grade a few weeks ago, our luxuriously quiet and free summer has been replaced with an almost frantic amount of work. Maddie has homework every night, sometimes even for hours; she has tests coming around every corner; and even long homework projects for the weekend. Throw in soccer and cross-country practice 4 days a week, and it’s no wonder she’s already talking about Christmas break.
Excuse me, but is Maddie in college or 6th grade? It’s hard to tell sometimes.
Maddie’s also set a goal of getting straight As this trimester. If she does achieve straight As, I agreed to let her buy an iTouch (does not have phone capabilities but does have internet). As in she can buy it with HER money. (I honestly don’t even know why she wants it, but if it makes her want to achieve straight As, then I’m all for it, though I’m not about to pay for something I can only deem–and call me mean if you want–frivolous).
And Maddie got a sobering reality earlier this week when I received her grades thus far via poweschool’s email (which comes once a week. I used to despise this, but now I love it. You’d be surprised how often one of her teachers makes a mistake. Probably because they’re 4 Maddies in her class.) In math, for example, she has a C because of the 3 homework assignments turned in thus far, she’s been missing questions and not getting a 100%.
Which is both reassuring, as in we caught this early on and now she understands that she has to double-check her homework and ask me for help or to check her answers, and also totally frustrating because if she’s not getting the answers right on her homework, then she probably won’t get them right on her exam, which is weighed more than homework.
Am I really freaking out about 6th grade math? Is my kid really freaking out as well?
Yes. And yes.
If I remember correctly, I don’t actually remember very much about 6th grade. I remember liking a boy, but I have no idea what his name is. I remember getting in a fight with my best friend, Diana, and not talking to her for a few months but I can’t for the life of me remember what we fought about. I think the teachers went on strike that year. But maybe it was the year before.
Yup. That’s about all I remember from 6th grade. I don’t remember 6th grade being incredibly important academically to my future in college or life. Yet Maddie’s 6th grade experience is shaping up to be like one big interview for all that she will be in the future. Her high school career, college choice, first real job: they all seem to hinge on how she performs this year. 6th grade. 11 years old.
Man, I’m stressed. And I think I’m making my kid stressed out even more. And I’m pretty sure that’s not healthy.
Which is why I went to Back to School night kind of up in arms.
“Where’s childhood, ” I wanted to know.
“When did school stop being fun?”
“How can you expect them to keep this up for another 11-12 years?”
“They’ll burn out!”
“I’m burned out!”
But instead I met all of her teachers (like 6 or 7 now–one for each different subject) who went over their course objectives, and while it still does seem grueling, they all came across as excellent teachers who actually care about my child. All her teachers are available for tutoring after school (Thank God cause my 6th grade math skills are really dismal. Oh, and Spanish too. OK, science as well. And let’s just face it, my knowledge in religion is kind of a joke). The teachers encouraged us to have out children email them questions. Not the parents, the kids themselves. Which I thought was really, really cool. And her teachers seemed to genuinely like her and I kept being told, “Maddie’s just wonderful.”
And I’m not bragging, but you know what? She is kind of awesome. And she doesn’t even really complain about all this work she’s doing. Well, she doesn’t complain that much.
So I’m thankful that Back to School night cleared up some hesitations I had about 6th grade. I mean, Maddie’s still going to have a bunch of work to do, and she’ll have to work extra hard to get straight As, but at least I’m comforted knowing she has a full support team behind her.