It is truly amazing to test my students and realize how much they have already learned this year. This is the best group of readers I have ever had! And their math skills are also strong. We have explored dozens of concepts in science and social studies. They have improved their fine motor skills and become very creative in art. They get along well, with only the occasional behavior problem.
What worries me is that several of them are NOT good students. This is a concept that has taken me several years to understand. And it is often difficult to explain to parents, especially parents of smart, likeable children who take home a great report card.
Going to school is an occupation. The average child will be a student for twelve to twenty years, whether he/she likes it or not. Being a good student requires an attitude and skills that some children simply do not possess and do not seek to acquire.
A good student is self-motivated to learn. Unfortunately many children are motivated by praise, prizes, and proficiency. If any of those are absent the child’s progress also suffers. These are the children who find it hard to get through tough assignments or learn new skills. They want everything to be easy and fun and rewarding.
A good student understands group dynamics and learns to function within their social setting. Many children are so accustomed to being in the spotlight and being catered to, that they find it difficult to cope with group situations where another child is equally or even more skilled, talented, etc. They don’t understand that someone else’s knowledge and skill does not take away from their own. And they often find it difficult to share, take turns, wait patiently, cooperate with others, etc.
A good student is responsible. Students must do their work, behave well, take care of their own basic needs, and stay safe. In today’s kindergarten we are teaching children a lot of skills that they should have learned at home. In addition to reading, writing, and math, we are teaching children to tie their shoes, eat their food with utensils, wash their hands, clean their desks, and look both ways before they cross the street.
My time is short today, but we will return to this subject again. I sometimes think that social and emotional skills are more necessary for success than academic skills.