My second-grade daughter had a spelling test recently. I asked her how it went, and she replied (very confidently), “Mom, the important thing is that I got more right than I got wrong.”
I asked her what her grade was, and then she told me she received a 6/10. From my immediate negative reaction, it was clear that I was not impressed. I explained to her that a “D” was unacceptable.
We all understand the basic grading structure, but I have to admit Charlotte had a point. In her 7-year-old mind, she was proud that she got six spelling words correct. The idea that I chose to focus on the four she got wrong was astonishing to her.
Are we doing our kids a disservice by focusing on what could be seen as a pessimistic grading scale?
I always try to look at the world in a “glass half full” mentality and to pass that optimism on to my children. I am sure I am not alone in regularly pointing out the good things in life rather than the bad. How often have I told my kids to be grateful for what they have and not focus on what they don’t?
I encourage them to be proud of the goal they scored and not focus on the two they missed (although reminding them that with some extra practice, they can improve). I reassure them not to worry about the bad guys but focus on all the good people in the world.
But then, am I doing the exact opposite when I only focus on the wrong answers on her spelling test?
I see why Charlotte was confused.
To be clear, I have high expectations for my daughters in everything they do, including their school work. I want to prepare them for success in life as well as handling disappointment. I am a firm believer in tough love. My kids don’t need a participation trophy.
However, I think we could be more aware of practicing what we preach, recognizing the contradictions we present to those innocent minds.
How can we encourage our young children’s learning more optimistically while still teaching them the realities of life? There must be a way to focus on education, set high expectations, offer constructive criticism while also promoting optimism.
Life can be challenging, and I want to prepare my children for any future struggles they may face. However, I also want to preserve some of that innocence and promote positivity throughout their lives.
Is that asking too much?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any miracle solutions (please let me know if you have the answer!). The realization of all the mixed messages our children receive daily is an important reminder to us as parents.
As if our jobs weren’t hard enough already!
Now, I think it is time for me to enjoy my “half full” glass of wine and for Charlotte to go study her spelling words!