This has been on my mind. I was talking to a mom that I met at one of Ady's camps a couple weeks ago and she was asking me about homeschooling. (Word gets around, I guess.) She was asking how long we plan to homeschool. I don't know the answer to that, so I explained WHY we started homeschooling...I won't go into the whole thing right now. This mom was telling me that her daughter has been asking for years to be homeschooled, as she is bored at school. The mom said she thought the schools were just fine, especially where we live (she has heard really good things about them, just not from her own kid) and she didn't see the point in keeping her daughter home to school her. I went on to explain all of the wonderful things about homeschooling and that I wasn't too impressed with test scores around here. Her response was, "Why does every kid have to be GREAT? What is wrong with mediocrity?" How will our kids know how great they are if they are not expected to do great things? Mediocrity is not okay for my daughter. I am not implying that because (most of) you send your child to public or private school you are not expecting great things from your children. There are some really good public and private schools. But, as one babysitter once told me about her school experience, "I want to do better, but my teachers tell me I am doing good enough." I don't know what Ady is going to decide to do for college or a career. How could I? But I want her to have options. Our job as parents is to prepare her for anything. Our job is to make sure she is capable. Why would I ever hold her back instead of encouraging her to move forward?
Recently there has been some discussion with my book club friends via facebook regarding this topic because we are reading (or have read) The Tiger Mother. This particular mother was too extreme. But I do think this mom was successful in teaching her children dedication and respect. Something that most kids in America don't know much about. I don't think it hurts a kid for them to hear, "You can do better" or "That was not your best" as long as they are also hearing positives. I don't believe (as I was told as a teacher) that children need to hear ten positive comments for every one negative. I am not saying we need to be mean to and/or belittle our children. Ady is the most important person in the world to me. But she is not the most important person in the world and it's okay for her to know that. This morning she was practicing piano. There is one part of one song that she has been struggling with for weeks. She was crying and saying, "I can't do it!" I could have let her quit. But what is that teaching her? It tells her that if things get too hard, she can walk away. She practiced until she got the part down better. It's not perfect yet, but it's better. She felt proud for sticking with it.
A friend shared this article. It's long, but stick with it. It explains how we can hurt our children when we think we are helping them. We want to protect them, but too much protection is not a good thing. How is this connected to mediocrity? For some reason we don't want our kids to be competitive. We think it's mean to encourage our kids to want to be better. We have to reward and bargain with our children to get them to do things that they should do because they are part of a family. We think everything should be fair for everybody. This is letting them down. This is telling them that they are not quite good enough. This is sending them the message that they are just mediocre. Read the article...