Which Student Are You Dealing With?

The school year is almost over.  That's a sigh of relief for my son and for my husband and myself.  No more homework; which means my husband doesn't have to oversee it.  No more early morning classes; which means I don't have to rush out of the house.  (And hopefully that my son will be less grumpy.  He is NOT an early morning kid. Neither is my husband.  On the other hand, by the time they get up, I've been up and going for nearly 2 hours...) It means I can get up "later" (maybe 5:15 vs 4:25) and my mornings will be a little less hectic.

This past year, particularly the past two marking periods, have been exceedingly difficult for my son, and hence my family.  I thought 5th grade was rough!  Boy was I wrong!  The drama!  The highs! The LOWS!  (Oh, the low, low, lows!!!)

To be fair, this has less to do with school and teachers and more to do with my son.  It was just recently that I realized that he was in full blown puberty.  A friend had mentioned something about her daughter's razor and I thought to myself:  "She can't be shaving her legs already!  She's too young!  She's my son's classmate."  And just that night I caught a whiff of my son's underarms AFTER he had taken a shower.  All of a sudden, it hit me in the face.  My son (and his friends) are in full blown, drama-filled puberty!  The light bulb went off in my head.  So many things started to make sense.

He is truly at a turning point in his life.  He is definitely not a kid any more.  (He's taller than me and very close to seeing eye to eye with my husband.)  He wants his independence, which is understandable.  Yet he is still reluctant to go to the basement by himself. (Although I can't necessarily say that's a kid thing.)  He has ideas on how to do things, but they aren't always well thought out.  But he's past of the point of hand holding.

No place is this more obvious than in school.  I'd guess that for certain teachers he is a pleasure to have.  For others; while I might not go as far as a nightmare, but I'd probably say he presents a challenge and/or frustrates them.

For example, I'm sure his Social Studies teacher adores him.  He is passionate about history, particularly Civil War history which that have been focusing on during the final part of the year.  Of the 7 graded assignments he's had this marking period, he's gotten 100% on 5 and his "lowest" grade was an 86.  His final project was a diorama (which he'd been anxious to do since the beginning of the school year) depicting the battle of Shiloh.  When is say diorama, I'm not talking the shoe box variety (which is what you might expect).  I'm talking 18" open pizza box size display.  (And I say this because we needed a way to transport it from home to class room and my husband came up with the idea of a pizza box, which our local pizza place was kind enough to give us.)  He spent hours plotting and planning.  He read and did research. Of course the one thing he DIDN'T plan was how to get it from our house to school.  His work of art (which also included notes on the battle) had to be carefully carried out of the house and placed in the back of the car.  I drove SLOWLY to the school and my husband carried it in to the class (the furthest one from the main school door of course!). Thankfully the teacher was gracious enough to come in early so that it could be stored.  (This class is at the end of his day.)  Because history is a subject he is interested in, he focuses and studies.  Hence he does well.  I'm sure for his social studies teacher wishes all students would be like him.

The student I described above would probably NOT be recognizable to his French or Math teacher. For example, during this final marking period he put NO effort into French at all.  He had two projects, one of which I didn't really know about (my bad) until I saw his grade...a 53!  It wasn't a difficult project at all (and it wasn't even in French, as it focused on the French speaking areas of Canada.)  He simply did NOT do the work.  (Literally, half of what he was supposed to do was not done!)  Needless to say I was alarmed, angry and upset.  The only reason he did NOT flunk the class is because we forced him to start working and studying.  Amazingly, the final two project he had for the class he got an 80 and 100 on.  It was obvious that it had little to do with his understanding of the subject (although I'm sure that was part of it), it was simply a lack of caring on his part and not going for help when he needed it.  (The going for help part has been a problem since he started school!) I'm sure his French teacher sees him as lazy; and she would be right.  

While my son has always put more effort into subjects that interest him (which makes sense), his lack of caring and/or putting much (if any) effort into other subjects seems to have onset with puberty. He's told me he's got things covered, when he clearly does not.  What I have learned (the hard way) is that I CAN let him be independent in certain subjects, but I'm still going to have to be the nagging mom in others.  He's not going to like it, but hopefully it will help him to understand that he needs to put his best efforts into ALL his classes.  Even those classes that don't interest him as much.

For now school is winding down and we all get somewhat of a break.  He does have to read two book over the summer.  (He had to choose from a list.)  I'm going to read at least one of them (Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand). We're going to discuss and start thinking about what theme he will be choose to write about in the fall.  This will NOT be something that will be put off.  (Both books that he chose are rather long).  Additionally, he will be continuing to get some extra help at Huntington Learning Center over the summer.  So while we'll all break, we're not going to lose focus of the big picture.  And hopefully with all that we've learned, the big picture will be a lot more attractive in 7th grade.


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