Saturday, May 25, 2013

When Honour Roll Students Attempt to Parent

Today was Hannah's last class for her spring swimming lessons. Since we moved this past winter, it was the first session at a new pool, and we took the classes through the City of Toronto.

In our private lessons, we didn't receive anything at the last class.

Today Hannah received a "progress report". She did not pass. However, she can't move up to the next level until she's 3 anyways. So why am I so upset? Why do I feel like I let her down? And why, when Chris saw us getting the report did he hope she had passed too?

When I taught recreational gymnastics through the City of Toronto during high school I HATED the last day of each session. Not only was it an "Open House" where a bunch of parents would come to watch and heat up the gym, but I had to hand out report cards and let the kids know whether or not they had mastered the skills well enough to be put in a higher group the next time around. Would they be upset when they saw other kids got a different coloured ribbon? Would their parents think they learned nothing all session if they hadn't been moved to the next level?

Rationally, levels for safety - and obviously that's even more important when it comes to swimming lessons. We also did it to ensure that the children in each group were around the same level when it came to teaching and perfecting skills (making it easier for the teacher to teach and making sure the participants stay challenged and engaged). It makes logical sense, so why do some people (including me) have an emotional reaction to it?

As a kid, I spent my youth in City of Scarborough (we amalgamated during my time teaching...) recreational classes - swimming, gymnastics, jazz. And as a participant, I loathed the last day of class just as much as I did in later years when I became an instructor. Because I was nervous to have people watching me. Because I was nervous to see if I had passed. Because I was worried I wouldn't live up to my peers.

It's not like my Mom cared about what my report card said - if anything, she was more focused on the written comments detailing how I behaved during class. As long as I was having fun, that was all that mattered.

And as the years went on when I was instructing, I could see that's what most parents were like too. There were some tears if friends didn't make it in to the same group, or if one sibling got a higher ribbon colour than the other. But most parents made a big deal about the stuff their kids COULD do.

So instead of feeling like I failed Hannah, mostly due to the fact I was in the pool with her, I am going to focus on the great things she got to do with her Mama and Dada for the 7 classes. She swam underneath an elephant spouting water, she caught a ball in the water, she went down a water slide - and we had FUN. Which, at any age, is really the most important reason to go to a recreational class, right? (With swimming, fun comes after the whole it can save your life bit.)

I will always like camp set-up the best  - even though kids are still grouped by level, there were never any report cards. Therefore the only tears at Open House were from the fact that camp was over.

How do you react to recreational progress reports?

© 2013 YYZ Bambina. All Rights Reserved.

1 comment:

  1. As a child who went through years of skating and swimming lessons, I always dreaded the recreational progress reports. Not because my parents said anything (they never did and always congratulated me on mastering new skills) but because the pressure of teachers watching and marking stuff off on their clipboards during the one class of testing. Talk about pressure especially when you could be having an off day.

    I'm not big on recreational progress reports as a parent and am just proud that my kids like being in water and on the ice. Swimming and skating are two things my husband and I want our kids to love and learn (safety reasons) and we're just glad they're having fun while learning. Doesn't matter how quickly they progress.


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