I went to my first preschool meeting last week and officially shifted my school lens from teacher to parent.
I was all, “This is no big deal” about it until Lily’s teachers started talking about how they are the first teachers she will meet in a long line to follow. How they help set the tone for the rest of her educational experience. How this is the beginning of many years to follow.
And that’s kind of a big deal when I really think about it.
So, I’ve been thinking about the grand scheme lately–what I want for my girls out of their educations and what I hope to model for them in the process.
And in thinking through that long list of things, I have decided on one thing for sure: There is one phrase my kids will never hear me say in reference to the things they are learning in school.
“You’ll never need to know that in the real world.”
I have gone rounds with middle school and high school students on this one during my time spent on the teaching side of things.
My mom said I’ll never have to write a paper once I have a job.
My dad has never read a book in his entire life, and he makes tons of money.
My sister is in 10th grade, and she told me she never uses English. (my personal favorite)
Kids innately want purpose. They want to know that the things they are doing matter. I see this now even with Lily and her propensity to ask, “Why?”
And yet, teachers have such a limited time to convince kids that what they are doing matters in the long run. Especially if when they go home, they hear how much it doesn’t.
Now, I haven’t written many formal speeches since I passed my college speech class. I don’t regularly utilize the distributive property in my daily life or analyze the parts of a cell underneath a microscope. I have forgotten the conjugation of Spanish verbs, the major scale on my flute, and the words to the preamble of the Constitution (which I once had memorized).
Instead, what I do on a daily basis is think and analyze and process and problem solve and learn.
The things that matter are so often hidden within the things kids think don’t.
And that’s where I come in as a parent. I think it is my responsibility to teach my kids that there is value in learning for the sake of learning. That if they approach even the tasks they hate with hard work, determination, and a positive attitude, they will gain skills that will take them far in life (even if they decide to never read another Shakespearean play after high school).
Lily spent the first 15 minutes of her first day of preschool sitting at a kidney table doing puzzles. I suppose I could have let her know that she’ll hardly ever need to complete a physical puzzle once she’s an adult (I certainly don’t do them very often).
Instead, I chose to praise her problem-solving skills, focus, and refusal to give up.
It seemed a no-brainer to me.
So, here’s to the teachers doing the hard work of convincing kids to learn. If my kids ever grace your classrooms, I’ve got your back.
(Also, I may need some extra tutoring sessions on Spanish verb conjugation and the distributive property.)