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Keeping on Grade Level

There is a sickness that seems to plague moms. Seems all parents are prone to this infection sooner or later and sometimes it can keep us down for years. Having one of my children in public school for a short stint heavily exposed me to this disease, but it was a blessing in disguise because it immunized me for life. I have no more desire to keep anyone “on grade level”!

Actually, no one is ever really “on grade level”. The “on grade level” student—just like the perfect figure or perfect I.Q.—doesn’t really exist. It is a manufactured ideal conceived in statistics and artificial standards, not from association with a real person.

Almost everyone wants their child to be “above grade level” and will jump through hoops to avoid falling “below grade level”. But you can see the ridiculous nature of this sickness if you compare it to height. Can you control your child’s height? I guess you could buy tall platform shoes so he could fake it and look the height that some chart or table dictates for his age, but other than that he is destined to grow as genetics has planned it and nothing you can do can change it. Surely, poor nourishment could stunt his height, but assuming you are not hindering his growth but nourishing him, then cramming vitamins down his throat or putting him on a stretching machine at night is not going to make him any taller.  No matter what the “standards” dictate.

So it is with intellectual development. Each child is a unique child of God. Understanding, maturing, and intellectual development comes step-by-step in God’s perfect pattern as he grows. It would be wise for us to make peace with that reality . . . and discard the concept of “falling behind” or “keeping them on grade level”.

Do your best, Mom, to teach and love your child. Make your child’s development and his educational opportunities your priority. Your very best is all you can offer and it is quite more than enough! Your child’s very best is all he can do, and that is quite enough in God’s eyes . . . and should be enough in a loving parent’s eyes.

Let’s all recover from the “grade level” sickness. It never makes anyone—parent or child—feel happy or more productive.  It works discontentment and anxiety in those afflicted with it.  Do your best, and know it is enough.


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