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Does anyone out there just have normal average kids???

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 

I feel like the schooling part of parenting is so so hard and I am so sick of hearing about people with children who do so well in school. My children (8th grade and 2nd grade) are both struggling learners. Both struggling learners who want so badly to do well and often cannot. My oldest was tested privately and does have a slight disability but not enough of one to really qualify for any help. It is so hard as a parent because I try to help but they often fall to pieces with me and I just don't always feel like they are getting the support they need. We actually moved across the country to be able to afford to put them in a very small farm school where there are no grades and very small classes. The school is such a wonderful place but I am not always sure it is academically consistent enough. We are most likely going to have to move again which will put them both into public school again and that worries me terribly. Does anyone else have children like this? I feel like I never hear about just average children- everyone seems to only have gifted children now. I feel like I am living in a world where my children will just flounder and I am so afraid for them. Is anyone else in this boat? How do you just accept that this is the way it is and more importantly, how do you help your child accept that they, unlike many of their friends, won't get high test scores or get into amazing private schools? We don't place an emphasis on these things but they seem to want them because of their peer group. How do you help them to feel okay with who they are when the whole world seems to be so focused on AP classes and always getting into the next thing.?

post #2 of 18
I don't have school-aged children yet, but I SO know what you mean. I will be damned if my kids get caught up in a system where the most important thing is the grade. Seems like it's even more important than learning.

I look at it like this: It is true that the whole world seems to be focused on the competition to get ahead. It is also true that the world, and our society especially, is pretty messed up when it comes to what we should have as our top priorities. When my children were born I sent only one wish up into the heavens, and that is that they would grow up to be kind. Great schools and good grades are wonderful, but they are nothing without kindness and character. Those things can't be graded, but they count more than anything.

When I was in school I remember the divide between the so-called advanced kids and so-called learning disabled kids. I remember thinking that some of the kids who were considered "slower" were in fact really witty and fun to be around. I thought, how could they be "slow"? Now I think, are they really disabled or is our school system just not willing or able to teach some kids in the way they are able to learn? Just thinking out loud here.

I think your kids will do wonderfully in life as long as you see them as perfectly capable and gifted in their own way. Just because their gifts can't be graded doesn't mean they aren't there. I believe every child has a gift. Just because it's not math, science or reading doesn't mean it doesn't have value. Who knows what amazing things they are capable of.
post #3 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much Dalia. I so needed to read that. I also wished that my children would be kind souls and if there is one thing that they do excel in, it is that and I am very thankful. Thanks for the kind words. 

post #4 of 18

I wonder this often!  I have three boys.  2 of them are gifted with learning disabilities. 1 of them is on the autism spectrum, high functioning, but had a lot of trouble early on.  It always seems like a struggle balancing all their needs! :dizzy

post #5 of 18
Everyone has their own struggles and challenges when it comes to parenting. Our child may be good at school but struggles with making friends. We all have our burden to bear and we do our best with it. There is no "normal" when it comes to raising kids. If there were, there'd be a manual to go with each child
post #6 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by dalia View Post

I don't have school-aged children yet, but I SO know what you mean. I will be damned if my kids get caught up in a system where the most important thing is the grade. Seems like it's even more important than learning.

I look at it like this: It is true that the whole world seems to be focused on the competition to get ahead. It is also true that the world, and our society especially, is pretty messed up when it comes to what we should have as our top priorities. When my children were born I sent only one wish up into the heavens, and that is that they would grow up to be kind. Great schools and good grades are wonderful, but they are nothing without kindness and character. Those things can't be graded, but they count more than anything.

When I was in school I remember the divide between the so-called advanced kids and so-called learning disabled kids. I remember thinking that some of the kids who were considered "slower" were in fact really witty and fun to be around. I thought, how could they be "slow"? Now I think, are they really disabled or is our school system just not willing or able to teach some kids in the way they are able to learn? Just thinking out loud here.

I think your kids will do wonderfully in life as long as you see them as perfectly capable and gifted in their own way. Just because their gifts can't be graded doesn't mean they aren't there. I believe every child has a gift. Just because it's not math, science or reading doesn't mean it doesn't have value. Who knows what amazing things they are capable of.

My DS is witty, fun to be around, and very artistic. He also has ADHD- Inattentive and Auditory Processing Disorder and some parts of school are a major struggle for him.

My DD is witty, fun to be around, athletic, and creative. She is academically average.
post #7 of 18

I have three kids-

My son has the ability to do well in school, but does just enough to get by with mostly Bs.

My oldest daughter has to work her tail off for her grades. She gets mostly Bs, with the occasional C. We actually had her evaluated in 3rd grade because she seemed to be struggling compared to her peers. The doctor said we noticed it more because she was in a Catholic school with kids who all did well and had lots of support from home. She would probably not have stood out at all in a public setting; she is just your average kid.

My youngest is very, very bright but also has an incredible work ethic. If she were in public school, she would probably qualify as gifted.

 

I think it sometimes seems like all kids are very bright and gifted in school because that's what you hear- bragging so to speak. As a high school teacher, there are lots of average, great kids out there.

post #8 of 18

Yes! DD1 has dyslexia. School has always been a massive challenge and honestly she failed everything before this year even with extensive tutoring. As a last resort we placed her into a private catholic school this year because we had gone through every other school in our area and it was trying this or homeschooling. She just made the honor roll. shrug.gif Who knew. With her, we have never made school a priority. She excels at sports so we pour a lot of energy into her other talents.  

 

DD2 is just an average kid. Doing fine in school. 

 

DS1 has a whole host of issues and we have no idea how he will end up doing in school but honestly we don't care. 

post #9 of 18

Keep your eye on the big picture. School is not everything. Like in Peony's family sometimes there are other interests (athletics, etc). 

 

I think a far more important predictor of your children's future success and satisfaction in life is their social skills. I have seen a lot of miserable, bitter, prickly smart people (have one in my extended family). On the other hand, I was struck recently by the successes of two average classmates of mine with very good social skills. One is now the spokesperson for the Dept of Labor for my state and one is the newly elected mayor of my hometown. To the best of my recollection neither of these folks were Honor Society material. Obviously the best scenario is to excel both academically and socially, but I think a case could be made that the folks who excel socially (and I don't mean who are super "popular" in a "Mean Girls" way, but true good, caring friends who are fun to be around) have more success in life. My smart, prickly, angry relative has had a lot of strife both at work and home. 

 

My dd1 is both smart and challenged, and challenging to parent. She's probably twice exceptional (gifted and with other issues—with anxiety and perhaps non verbal learning disorder, ADD). My dd2 is very bright, not the best in her class — we live in Lake Wobegone where all the kids are above average — but does excel in writing/reading. She gets frustrated with math sometimes, though. Overall she's probably easier, but that has more to do with the lack of obstacles (the anxiety can be crushing for dd1). 

post #10 of 18

I think, when you have kids who struggle academically, it can seem like everyone else in the world is raising little geniuses. My DS is dyslexic, and I used to want to scream at all my Facebook friends who were posting about their kids sounding out words in preschool, or getting bored in first grade because they were expected to ready Junie B Jones when they really wanted to read Harry Potter.

 

As time has gone on, though, I've found out that there are more struggling kids than you might think when you're in the throes of school struggles with your kid. There are really many more than there should be thanks to failures on the part of many schools, but that's a whole other can of worms.

 

If all the other kids in the world really were gifted, it wouldn't mean anything. It's the parents of the gifted kids who tend to talk the most about their kids' school experience, but I really think they're in the minority.

 

Every kid is wonderful and gifted in some way, though sometimes it might take awhile to come out. My DS is finally beginning to hit his stride in school, but even before that, I could look at him and see his creativity, his scientific mind, and his boundless curiosity, and know that he'd turn out just fine.

 

And, yes, even the academically gifted kids, sometimes especially the academically gifted kids, have problems. I can think of three such kids in my circle of acquaintance. Some friends of mine have a first grade daughter who is bored out of her mind at school. Her older sister was the same way until she got into the accelerated program in 3rd grade, but their school has nothing for accelerated kids before 3rd grade, so in the meantime this poor girl is starting to hate school. A friend of DS's taught himself to read at 4 and breezes through school, but suffers from crippling anxiety and has difficulty making friends. DS takes ballet with another 3rd grader from his school. She missed getting into the accelerated program by 2 points on one test, probably because she was having an off day. I talked to her mom early this year and she said her daughter loves the social aspect of school but is bored to tears with the academics. This is at a school that is a magnet for differentiated instruction and really does a good job overall at trying to reach kids who are both ahead and behind. Since then, the school has done its best to work with this family and had the girl pulled out for gifted 4th grade math and reading, but it's still not ideal.

 

In the meantime, my DS is being challenged by the "average" 3rd grade material he's getting, but finally keeping his head above water. For a long time I didn't think that would ever happen. OP, I'm sure your kids will be fine in the end. Do your best, when you move, to find a school that will serve them well. There are so many options in most areas, the local public school doesn't have to be your only choice.

post #11 of 18
No, I do not have just normal average kids. Neither, I suspect, do you, nor most everyone else who is hanging out on mothering. Because that's why we hang out here, isn't it, because we feel that our kids are these wonderful square pegs who just should not be made to fit into the round holes of average schooling and parenting.

If you feel that every other parent aroud you is talking about how well their gifted kids are doing in school and everyone on your kids' peer group in that little farm school without grades is hung up on high test scores, AP classes and gaining admittance into amazing private schools (or even *shudder bragplaining about their advanced reader on facebook the way another poster described), you should take a good hard look at both your and your kids' friends. Because bragging about your kids' academic success that way is insensitive and rude. You should hang out with friends, online and IRL, who do not make you feel bad or defensive about how your own fun witty and kind kids are doing and your kids should be with friends who care about being fun and witty and kind in their personal interactions even if they care about good grades and good schools. Because grades and schools do matter - you know it, I know it and and your kids know it as well as everyone else here and pretending otherwise would just make me feel insincere. But whether they should matter to the extent they do and whether they should matter among friends at all - those are different questions.
There is a place on mothering where those who are parenting gifted kids hang out - not because that is such a wonderful and exclusive community to be but because those parents have experienced how talking about gifted kids' struggles in a school system geared to the average-to-bright child sounds like insincere bragplaining to other parents and makes them feel bad and defensive. But those struggles are real. There are many ways a system can underserve kids who do not fit neatly into a system's round holes.

edited to fix atrocious spelling and punctuation, was posting from my phone
Edited by Tigerle - 11/11/13 at 9:24am
post #12 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by kentuckymom View Post
If all the other kids in the world really were gifted, it wouldn't mean anything. It's the parents of the gifted kids who tend to talk the most about their kids' school experience, but I really think they're in the minority.

 

I would like to point out that giftedness, in the realm of academics, is defined as scoring in the top 2 percent of a standard cognitive test. By definition, the parents of academically gifted children must be a very small minority. I expect that most of these vocal, bragplaining parents have really bright hard-working healthy kids who get a lot of support from home, and are doing really well in a system that is geared exactly towards the needs of bright, hard-working healthy kids who get a lot of support from home. The system is not geared towards the needs of bright hard-working children with learning disabilities, nor is it geared towards the needs of a tiny minority of kids who, depending on their level of giftedness, may find themselves to be unique not just in their classroom, but in their whole year or even their whole school. (You may find the parents of those 2 percent kids to be very much in the closet).

 

Quote:
 Do your best, when you move, to find a school that will serve them well. There are so many options in most areas, the local public school doesn't have to be your only choice.

If you feel that their current school is not serving your kids well and you may have to place them in public school anyway, I'd post about their specific struggles and the learning disability your oldest has been tested for in the special needs forum. There are some very very experienced parents out there in fighting for the services and accomodations their kids are entitled to in public schools. Private schools may not be the best choice for your children, and moving them may be a blessing in disguise.

post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your very thoughtful and wise responses. I think I just needed to hear some of these things. We have been fortunate to live in some great school districts but the downside of that is that you do have that weird competitive vibe with some of the parents and even if it is just a few parents, they always seem to be so loud. There are other kids in my children's school now that struggle with learning issues too and the reason my children are there is that the school really works to make all learning styles a nonissue by working with all children one on one no matter what their needs. I think I am just frustrated by the way the public school system seems to be a one size fits all mentality. I know there are many great public schools and many many amazing teachers. I just wish it was a little more varied for different learners. Again, thank you for all of the kind responses. Thank goodness for the mothering forum! 

post #14 of 18

my kids go to good schools, so far with average results. my 6.5yr old has an occupational therapist who comes in to work on his fine motor skills, so I guess below average on that. but they are really happy and considerate kids, and am at peace with that. I think part of it is they were both preemies so perhaps normal was aspirational for the first year or two. they will have plenty of time to be stressed out in their lives I figure why add to it now.

 

that being said, I engage them as much as possible in learning activities (we have memberships to 4 museums) but I honestly just want them to love learning, and let the standardized measurements fall where they may.

 

it's hard not comparing to others, I hope you can resist the pressure and know you are doing what your kids need, that is at least as, if not more, important than being classified as "gifted" (whatever that even means these days

post #15 of 18
Quote:
Originally Posted by mar123 View Post
 

I have three kids-

My son has the ability to do well in school, but does just enough to get by with mostly Bs.

My oldest daughter has to work her tail off for her grades. She gets mostly Bs, with the occasional C. We actually had her evaluated in 3rd grade because she seemed to be struggling compared to her peers. The doctor said we noticed it more because she was in a Catholic school with kids who all did well and had lots of support from home. She would probably not have stood out at all in a public setting; she is just your average kid.

My youngest is very, very bright but also has an incredible work ethic. If she were in public school, she would probably qualify as gifted.

 

I think it sometimes seems like all kids are very bright and gifted in school because that's what you hear- bragging so to speak. As a high school teacher, there are lots of average, great kids out there.

 

Your kids are like my kids exactly!  My son works an average amount and is average.  My oldest daughter works a bit above an average amount and scores average.  My youngest placed into gifted so, while she doesn't go to the "gifted school" in our area, she is pulled to get more challenging work.  She the one most likely to cry if she forgets her homework at school, get frustrated if she doesn't understand something and get mad if she isn't achieving high scores (She's 8, btw).  That said, my son is an awesome aspiring DJ and, for being 12, he's pretty good!  My daughter is introverted and a fantastic FANTASTIC writer (her spelling is terrible, though) and has a way with animals.  My high achieving daughter is bubbly, sensitive and a great dancer.  All traits not really measurable on tests or in school (except writing, but if she spells stuff incorrectly, it will haunt her in older school years).  

As an aside, my son struggled in french at school.  He worked REALLY hard for Cs on tests.  He was so frustrated.  We talked a lot about giving 100% of your effort and how that was more important than the grade.  But when he was expecting a C in French on his report card and he got a B-?  Well, we all celebrated that!  My son occasionally felt dumb compared to classmates in elementary school but I think he has come to terms with it because we've talked about strengths in other areas that are not academic.  My introverted daughter is really unconcerned about what grades other people make.  She's kind of in her own world of books and writing.  I do worry a bit about my youngest but I'm sure she will find some balance as she gets a little older.  (I hope!).  I think if we always worry about academics, we minimize the other strengths children may have.  School is just a part of their day and just a tiny part of their whole lives.  I'm sure there are many average people who have achieved great things.  :)

post #16 of 18

Yes!  And I know what you mean about no one talking about how average their kids are. Mine, like yours, was ID'd as having some minor LD but she was at a school that was already meeting her needs quite well (and as best they could) so we never had her officially evaluated. So, she just kind of went though elementary as an average kid. Then, for 5th grade standardized testing she did super well and was placed in the faster track group for middle school. I was shocked and spent the first several months worried that they would move her. She's going GREAT. Turns out, while I do think she's average, I think the most important thing about my DC as a learner (in a school setting) is that she meets expectations. She hasn't blown anyone away with her amazing skills but she's conscientious about getting her work in and is cooperative in class and that gets her through pretty well. It has allowed her to stay in the honors class and get good grades. Still, I consider her an average kid. The school does seem to be amp'ing up the expectations for this next quarter and I'm a bit nervous for DC - I think she has a goal to improve her grades, which I don't see happening if they raise expectations. But, we'll see. 

post #17 of 18

At this point, I just translate a lot of the gifted kid talk in my head to "parent thinks his/her kids are special and awesome" and try to leave it at that.  Sometimes it seems like, when we talk about kids, they're all gifted.  If they do well in school, it's because they're gifted.  If they do badly, it's because they're just too gifted to do well.  After a while, the term loses all meaning.  I harbor dark suspicions that enrichment programs for gifted kids in my local schools are functioning as a means of segregating higher-income, (usually) white kids from the rest of the class.

 

I have seen all kinds of paths for "gifted" kids in adulthood, and I'm pretty convinced that identified giftedness in elementary school says nothing about a person's potential or capabilities.  I am a huge believer, though, in the importance of learning to try, struggle, fail, and try again.  That process is a lot less pleasant, and a lot harder for parents to talk about, then easy skill acquisition, but I think it ultimately means more.  Working hard and being reliable are real skills that a lot of people have trouble acquiring.

 

There are some incredibly awesome, academically average kids out there. 

post #18 of 18

miasandhadleysmom, is it more how you feel about the schools, or your kids?  Do your kids have these feelings about being left behind, or that it's over-competitive at school?  Are they happy? 

 

My kids seem just about average academically.  I tell them all the time that, "An average, normal kid who does his homework every night and pays attention in school will go far in life."  My 4th grader likes it when I say that and it seems to motivate him. 

 

My first grader seems pretty smart, but his handwriting is bad.  He can't slow down.  He just scrawls everything out as fast as possible.  He may have a touch of ADHD.  I've recently gotten really serious on him to learn proper letter-forming.  I have to hold him in my lap practically kicking and screaming and hand-over-hand force him to write correctly.  Apparently it worked, because the next day he brought his writing from school with m's and p's finally looking like m's and p's.  Well, if we have to keep practicing kicking and screaming then that is what we'll do.  :lol

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