Helping My Son Make the High Self Esteem Grade by Robin Gorman Newman

 sethstagecrewshirt1My son, who recently turned 12, transitioned into public middle school this year, and it’s been nothing short of challenging in more ways than I ever would have anticipated.

We’ve had to change his classes, deal with the departure of a new teacher, bring in a learning specialist, create strategies for tracking homework, books, long term projects, tests to be signed, etc., etc. 

Anyone whose child is in the Common Core curriculum knows just how hard it is….on everyone.  Homework is given even on weekends and over holiday periods.  Some days, it feels like my son is a manic homework-doing machine, with my husband and I doing our best to assist, if needed, and at the very least, ensure it all gets done.  Some weekends, we haven’t event left the house because it was all quite overwhelming.

As it was explained to me at a school meeting featuring the local education powers that be, the Common Core was created to make American kids more competitive with the rest of the world.

I ask the question….how does this figure in if a child has special needs?  And, what about factoring in self esteem?

What is the impact on a child when it all feels like such a struggle?

How many tutors or learning specialists should parents have to hire, and what if your budget doesn’t permit?

We live in a good school district — one of the very reasons we made a home here — but even then, it’s felt like a full time job to oversee my sons academics and share with the teachers what he needs and what we experience at home.

All this said, I’ve strongly encouraged my son, despite the workload, to participate in select after school activities.  He chose LEGO Robotics and Stage Crew.  I am so proud of him for what he’s achieved with both.  His Robotics team made the Long Island Championship…the furthest their school team has ever gone.  It was such a feeling of accomplishment for all involved, and instilled a wonderful sense of teamwork.

sethstagecrewbowThe school’s production of 42nd Street was performed this past weekend, and it required many hours of Seth’s participation, on some days, creating a pressure situation to get his homework and studies done, but he persevered. He was assigned the role of curtain puller — an important task — and one that required a lot of focus, which is one of his greatest challenges.  He did it!  They presented four performances, and he pulled on cue.

I’m a huge theatre lover, and have helped to instill this in my son.  I treasure that this is a passion we both can share and enjoy shows together.  I was involved on both a high school and college level with theatre, and to this day, I have strong, positive memories of it.  In high school, I did props for Arsenic and Old Lace and acted as one of the Angels in Anything Goes.  In college, Hofstra University, I was a French minor, and one of my classes was French Drama, where I had to act in French, and I loved the challenge and experience.

While I certainly want my son to have a positive academic experience, there is more to school, life and ultimate success than grades.  Building self esteem comes from more sources than that. As parents, we need to do all that we can to instill a belief system in our kids that inspires them to achieve and not just in terms of meeting standards and requirements.  Some of the most successful and happy people march proudly to their own creative drum and introduce breakthrough innovations that enhance all our lives.  All the world’s a stage, as the expression goes, and the better my son feels about himself, the more motivated he will be to pave his own way in the world, leaving the Common Core in the wings.

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