Monday, December 4, 2006

The New Prince of Grammar?

The following is a conversation I overheard my son having with one of his "girl" friends over the weekend:

Sally: "Look, Mitchell, he gots a fly in his hand!"
Mitchell: "He has a fly in his hand."
Sally: "What?"
Mitchell: "You're supposed to say, 'He has' not 'He gots'".
Sally: "Oh".

Mitchell is 7 years old. Sally is 7 years old. When I overheard this conversation, I laughed to myself. Mitchell has always had a thing for language (he spoke in complete sentences by the time he was 20 months old), and successfully uses "big" words that he hears me use, in the correct context. His verbal ability has always amazed me. And I'm proud of him for noticing that his friend wasn't using the English language properly.

This is why my world was momentarily shattered when his report card recently indicated a "D" (Needs to Improve) in the subject "Written Language; Mechanics of Writing Skills (complete sentences, punctuation, capitalization)." In my opinion, for his age, his "mechanics of writing" are pretty much where they should be at right now. I'm not sure how other parents of elementary students feel about this, but it seems like the expectations of children in schools these days is one grade level beyond what it was when I was in school. What I mean by this is, in Kindergarten they are doing Grade 1 work, in Grade 1 they are doing Grade 2 work, and so on and so on. Maybe it's just our school. Last year they didn't work on "creating" their own sentences very much. And good grief . . . it was only November when the report cards came out. If he still gets a "D" in this area in June, I'll be concerned. But right now I think this "Needs to Improve" is just that, even though I think the letter "D" for "Needs to Improve" is a bit harsh.

Do I sound like an upset mom? I guess I sort of am. I've had a couple of weeks to cool off from this news that my son got a "D" in an area that I always got "A"s in . . . maybe it's me with the unrealistic expectations and disappointment over the fact that one of my kids brought home at "D". I don't know. But I think the true test on my theory that his current school is "pushing" the expectations higher than normal will be revealed when he starts in his new school after Christmas. I'm going to wait to see what his new teacher has to say about his "Mechanics of Writing Skills".

On a brighter note, he received "A"'s (Excellent Progress) in all areas of math. For anyone who knows me from the past, math wasn't my best subject. My Grade 12 Algebra teacher wrote the following in my report card after the first term: "Keep plugging away at the Alg, Kim!" "Plugging away"!?! Oh, I did just that, and all that did was bring down my final average for grade 12. I should have taken "Math 30" by correspondence instead of torturing myself (and the teacher) for a whole year!

1 comment:

Carol said...

I'd have to agree with you about higher expectations in schools, for reading and language at least (I'm not too sure about some of the other subjects, though. They don't even make children memorize the multiplication tables). My youngest is in Grade 1 and he's bringing home books he has to read, but the first couple of books had all these words that are the 'exceptions' to the rule. For example, Matthew was learning the 'ch' sound and then had a book with the word 'machine'. That word doesn't follow any of the rules. So I spent my time telling him, 'this word looks like it should sound like this, but it really sounds like this'. Brutal!