Recently I’ve heard a couple parents concern about their children and school. Their child may be struggling, they may be failing, they may have a tutor, their child may not care or they may be trying really hard. The truth parents, that was me. All of them. Which made me think, do adults really know the stress of being a student?
A Struggle from the Beginning
I struggled with school from the very beginning. I remember dreading just about everything regarding school from when the summer was over to, exams, homework and more than anything, math class. I would literally try to hide behind the person in front of me so I wasn’t picked. Any eye contact, that was a definite no no. I was certain my teachers had no idea the stress of being a student.
All I could think about was sports, what the next game would be, when recess was, what we’ll play after school. I honestly had a hard time sitting in my desk. And truthfully, I have no doubt someone would have tried to diagnose me with ADD or ADHD and stuff medication down my throat if we knew what ADD was back then.
Nothing Seemed to Help
I had tutors, my mom paid a lot of money for extra help (money we didn’t have), I found friends that were ‘smart’ to help me, I even stayed late with teachers that were willing to try to help a little extra. And my mom (bless her heart) even changed her work hours so she could be with me longer in the evening to help with homework. Deep down, maybe my mom knew the stress of being a student.
Alas, nothing seemed to change, nothing made a difference, I suppose the stress of being a student increased as I tried harder but nothing seemed to work. Well I shouldn’t say nothing made a difference, without the extra work and help I would have been a failing student, with the extra work I was a ‘just getting by’ student.
Course I heard everything you could imagine from ‘get your head out of the clouds’ to ‘sports will never take you anywhere’ (boy were they wrong ;)). But none of that helped, and it’s not like I entirely didn’t care or didn’t want to do better. I remember in second grade a teacher actually took me by my arms and shook me because I didn’t know an answer, ha, picture that now a days.
High School was much of the same Struggle
High school wasn’t much different than elementary school, except now sports was more my life than recess. I played every sport imaginable and still in large part struggled with school. I would stay late, get up early to study; work with teammates even on the road on better strategies or concepts I had no idea or little understanding about. So there it was, the stress of a student following me into high school.
There I was on stage with my high school diploma thinking back on how I worked so hard ‘just to get by’, how elementary school was a struggle and even voices of “if you can’t pass this how will you get through high school” from ‘authority figures’.
Moving on to college, my dream of being a college athlete was about to come true certainly not because of my academics but because of my athletic ability. Once again authority type figure voices ran through my head saying ‘college isn’t for everyone’.
Little did they know I wasn’t going to let anything get in my way of my dream.
Once I got to college it was like the world opened it’s arms for me. The atmosphere was so different, the attitude, the professors, even the ‘authority figures’. Now don’t get me wrong, I still worked hard, it wasn’t all peaches and cream but I was no longer micromanaged. I wasn’t told how to learn, how to write, what to read or even what time to show up.
It was all about to change
Professors didn’t care much if you showed up half the time as long as you completed assignments. Having the opportunity to choose my own classes I actually started to enjoy going to school, I developed relationships with my professors and now other class members were actually coming to me for help.
Sure when I struggled with a class or assignment I still had professors say something like ‘maybe this class isn’t for athletes’ but I’m sure they didn’t know that only encouraged me to work harder (and if you knew the professor you’d know it wasn’t a scheme to encourage me to work harder).
Sports took me all over the world and back, so my imagination, lack of attention or focus, or lack of trying wasn’t the reason I struggled with school all the way up until college and university. I really feel that, at least when I grew up, there was one way to teach and if you didn’t understand that way you were left behind. Which I was time and again which only increased the stress of a student.
Don’t give up on your child
Now I’m not saying that’s what’s going on with your child but I am saying, don’t give up on them. Don’t deem them a lost cause, someone who isn’t able to learn or needs medication to help them focus. Even now as a grown adult, I’ve taken the odd class where explanations and assignments entirely elude my understanding. However, if you give me an assignment and the freedom to get the answer or results my own way, I’ll find it, I promise you that.
There’s hope for your young one, no matter what they are labeled, how difficult it may be for them to keep up and both how little they care and how much they try, there’s still hope. So please, don’t give up on them.