Our schools in the United States operate primarily as meritocracies: Grades are earned, students are tracked into achievement groups, and awards and rewards are provided for those who perform satisfactorily. If a child isn’t performing at an expected level (for whatever reasons) negative descriptors are often assigned to that child, like “nonproficient reader,” “failing student,” or “poor test taker.”
We need to realize that the current model only allows a child to be labeled “a successful student” by how well she performs as a test taker and grade maker. This narrative can actually exacerbate any pre-existing trauma and even produce trauma in a child who previously had none.
So when a student is not performing, progressing, or participating, we need to pause and look beyond that child’s actions. We need to look beyond any behaviors of defiance or refusal. In this way we can break the curse of those long lingering—and possibly traumatizing— labels and begin to meet that child with a clearer picture of reality. When we do this, we’re able to better see what that child, whether 7 or 17 years old, is actually trying to tell us.
Read on to learn how you, as a parent, can help your child realize they are MORE than their grades!
Stay Healthy, Chaps!