Tonight I will be attending an award ceremony for my oldest daughter Julia. It is for students in the school district that made “Advanced Proficient” in the NJASK test. My understanding is the NJASK test is much like the Iowa Basics I took when I was a kid. Apparently the state of Iowa lost its monopoly on standardized testing. However, they still grow damn fine corn, so they got that going for them. Julia also takes part in a program called PPEG which chooses only a few students in each grade in the school district. My middle daughter Mia was elected to take the test to be accepted into PPEG for next year. My youngest Olivia’s (who is pre-K) teachers always tell us how advanced she is and is at a level higher than her current age. Julia and Mia always bring home mostly A’s with some B’s mixed in.
Why do I bring this up? To brag about my children? Ok perhaps that has a little do with it but mostly I’m trying to figure out how my wife and I raised girls who are excelling academically. I realize they are very early in their academic careers but please understand I peaked in second grade when I won my classrooms spelling B. After that it was pretty downhill. I recently got my Bachelor’s degree and had a near 3.9 out 4 GPA (yea it’s more bragging but it’s my blog). Going to school as an adult is much different, you realize the importance of education, you are more mature, you have better time management skills, you aren’t constantly high….you just are better equipped to succeed. Even with a full time job, three kids, soccer and all the other things I could take a class a semester and concentrate and give it my best.
I’m not calling myself or my wife idiots mind you. She was much like me (only smarter, but not advanced classes smart) when she was younger and has also excelled in school as an adult. We both have looked at each other wondering where they get it from. On that NJASK test Julia got a perfect score on the math portion, I went to summer school my freshmen and sophomore years for Algebra and Geometry respectively. The argument is always nature versus nurture…in the case nurture is kicking nature’s ass.
While my wife and I will never be invited to join MENSA (or a really good book club) I do think we are relatively intelligent people. One thing I can say we do very well is expose our girls to different things. Being big Revolutionary War buffs my daughters have been to the numerous historic sites of Philly, Monticello, Montpelier and Mt. Vernon to name a few. They have been to Art Museums and we have a membership to the Franklin Institute. They have gone to the traveling exhibits there which probably are above their level but at least they are exposed to it.
When my wife and I decided we were getting I married I told her “I’m not handy and can’t fix anything, but I know someone who can.” I think in a way we have taken that same approach with parenting. We are not exceptionally intelligent and we can’t teach, but we know people and places that can. We both have curious minds and granted watch our share of mindless T.V. but also watch educational programs (especially history related). Both of us have been going to school during their lifetimes and I think that has rubbed off on them. They always ask for our school books when we are done and even though of course it is over their heads, they still read them and ask questions.
Allow this blog to be a beacon of hope to all you window lickers out there. Just because you aren’t bright doesn’t mean your kids won’t be (I’m smart enough to know I used a triple negative there, but not smart enough to know how to say it in a way I don’t).