See the picture at the top of this post?? This is what a 7th grader looks like. We are three weeks into the school year and she is awesome! She is smiling and happy but that doesn't mean there haven't been feelings of nervousness, insecurities, self doubt, excitement, and anticipation. Behind the smile there are so many emotions and thoughts coursing through her body and if your child is going through any of these it's ok. For the past few years Sheriauna was disillusioned and unhappy about school and learning. See Sheriauna struggles with retaining information in certain forms and therefore when she has to recall some of the basic stuff to build and move on to other concepts she finds it challenging. She would try using difference strategies or tools to help and it would work for a while but there came a time where she was really discouraged and began to give up and we were concerned...very concerned. We tried incentives, tutoring, extra supports but nothing clicked. There were small improvements but they was short lived. From the perspective of a parent who was always very diligent in school, did very well right through to high school, and was very self directed when it came to preparation and studying, I have always struggled with the WHY of "Why Sheriauna doesn't enjoy school?", and "Why Sheriauna struggles so much in certain areas?" As I have grown as a parent even further in the past few years, I have learned not to place my ideas of what Sheriauna should be or should like on her but rather show her that her ideas are welcome and I am here to listen to her concerns and try my best to help find the best solution to help her be successful in reaching her goals.
With that we began discussing other options for education and also what WE can all do together to help Sheriauna prepare for the senior level (grade 7/8). We tried our best to do some review over the summer but I also believe in the importance of letting kids be kids and enjoying their time away from the classroom...explore, grow at their own pace and continue to learn in various ways. To my surprise, over the summer as she was preparing for the transition, Sheriauna took the initiative to do some extra work, review her math, read, and creative writing which she used to love. What's better is that something even more amazing happened and that’s what I think is soooooo awesome!
Sheriauna began maturing before my eyes!! She has always been helpful, independent, motivated (when she loves something), and smart but in the past two months she stepped it up a lot. She was so excited and nervous to start the 7th grade because of the unexpected. Anyone who knows Sheriauna and her distaste for school, knows I would have to literally pick her up out of bed to get her going in the morning (lol). I would have to remind Sheriauna repeatedly about tasks that need to be completed in preparation for the next day. I am sure many parents go through similar scenarios with their children (please tell me I am not alone!!). This back and forth struggle impacted our relationship because I felt like I was always the “bad guy” and she felt like I was nagging her all the time and trying to control her. She wasn’t motivated, however this year, she sets her own alarm and wakes up, dresses, eats breakfast and is ready to go before me!! Sheriauna now comes home and prepares herself to complete her homework and study for tests. Is she getting perfect scores?? No and I don’t care! I do believe and expect that she gives her full effort in everything she does but what I am loving the most is how the transition to a new class and teacher along with just her own natural growth is allowing her to develop a desire to be accountable for herself, taking an interest in time management and prioritization, the desire to learn and accomplish her tasks and reach her own goals academically. One thing that I believe is important was that we had several discussions about the freedoms and privileges we have as we get older but that with these comes responsibility as well. Sheriauna began to understand that she can enjoy being a senior while being diligent in her learning process. Once she invested in herself she really began to view things differently.
One morning Sheriauna shared that she gets annoyed when some of her classmates say the work is so easy because she doesn't find it easy and then she begins to worry that they will bother her if she can't "get it" as quickly s them. We discussed what she can do to not allow the opinions or comments of her classmates distract her from her goals. Sheriauna is learning that she cannot control the behaviour or actions of others; she can only control how she reacts or behaves. It is not always easy to stay focused when there are so many distractions around but what I have learned to do with Sheriauna, which I hope is part of what is helping her, is to reassure her that if she continues to approach things, even challenging things, with a positive attitude and mindset, that is half the battle. When your mindset changes, your approach changes which can lead to better outcomes. For example, the first week she had a math test and she didn't do so well. She continued to study and approach her math positively (which she never used to do) and the second week her results improved. I look my daughter in her beautiful brown eyes and I tell her with all honesty that when she gives her full effort and still doesn't get a perfect score I will still be proud of her because what matters most to me is what she is getting out of the experience that she can take with her as she continues to grow and gets older. I have had to put down my own expectations of my children and let them be them! We all have things we are very good at and we have things that we are not so good at and there is nothing wrong with that.
At this point I am looking forward to seeing my daughter flourish, grow, learn and be who she is meant to be this school year and every year after.