Hello, this is Liz. Maggie is taking the day off.
Most adults are sweating the April tax deadline. However, many kids are dreading April 8, “National Test Day”. In case you’re not familiar with this, on this date, high school entrance exams, the ACT, SAT, and other standardized tests are held throughout the nation.
My son James is taking the ACT with the writing portion on April 8.
I’d like to say, I’m not a huge fan of standardized tests. I understand perfectly that schools need a benchmark, but frankly, not all kids are great test-takers, and many students miss a great fit with their desired school because of standardized testing. One can’t show creativity and passion while filling in an oval. I’d like to talk about this a minute, and I apologize if this gets a little long. But if you only read one blog of mine this year, I beg you, let this one be it.
I’ve got three kids: Mike, my inherited son from Jim’s first marriage; my son Erik, and my son James. Each child is wildly different than the other. They’ve all had different approaches and attitudes about school. Imagine three different roller coasters, and you’ll have an idea!
Mike, quick on his feet and charming, was an outstanding test taker. He scored very high on the ACT. Mike loved high school sports and played on a couple of different teams, and was very good at the social aspect of school. Mike had a lot of friends and had a regular “posse” he hung around with. Although he was a great test taker, he found that a middle-of-the road curriculum suited him best for academics. Mike’s strengths were found in his social skills and ability to make and keep friends. After high school, he landed a commissioned sales job that suited his skill set very well, and today, he is happy with his career and is successful in his profession.
Erik, somewhat moody and wildly creative, was not a good test taker. He scored about average on the ACT. Erik had a terrible high school experience and hated sports. He excelled in Art, however, and flourished in any creative class that was thrown at him. From watercolors and calligraphy to pottery, he was truly in his element. After high school, Erik decided to pursue Cosmetology classes, and that is where his grades went through the roof. Comfortable in an environment that encouraged passion and creativity, Erik’s grade average was 96%+ and graduated with a straight A average. Erik is now a Master Stylist with a major chain, and has full benefits at his job. He has an astonishing request rate at the salon – even I have to make an appointment to see him!
James took the ACT when he was 13. He did very well. He took it again as a practice test last year, and scored two points higher. To prepare for the ACT this year, he is doing independent study, classes after school, and tutoring on his own time. He expects to raise his previous, practice ACT score by two or three points. James is enjoying high school immensely. Although his is not a “sports guy”, he’s a “Robotics guy” and enjoys tinkering with various projects. James has a knack for details and dates and hopes to get a specialized History PhD when he completes high school, with an eye on teaching college-level classes. He is relishing taking the Writing portion of the ACT because he feels this is where is greatest strength is going to be. On a side note, I never have to ask Jamie to do his homework; rather, I worry about him “beating himself up” about it too much.
Why am I telling you all this?
Because I learned, through my extremely different children, that it’s OK to excel or not to excel at these standardized tests. And if you’re that parent trying to push your kid into being the lawyer or doctor or football star you never were – please, please, stop. Your kid might be your child, but he or she is his or her own individual person and we as parents might know them well, but still, you can’t be in another person’s skin and know what makes them tick. It’s OK to be a school person or not a school person. There’s something out there for all of us, but we have to find it individually.
You, as a parent, might be sweating National Test Day right along with your offspring. I can give you the wisdom of my experience to let you know it’s going to be all right. There’s room for lawyers, doctors, football stars, entrepreneurs, actors, scientists, teachers, salespersons, and all the rest, and some you can’t imagine. I am saying to you today, encourage your child to be THEIR best, not YOUR best. Let them shine in their own way, and they’ll do you proud and probably surprise you. Had I tried to fit any of my square pegs into round holes, it would have been a disaster.
National Test Day is right around the corner. Some will thrive, but we’ll all survive.
PS – I made the bed with fresh linens today and Maggie is enjoying the afternoon snoozing on the soft sheets and blankets. She sends a Woof and will see you tomorrow!