I have said this before but I feel quite strongly about it so I will say it again. No one really prepares you for what happens after you kid is potty trained, sleeping through, can wipe their own bum and eat on their own. The literature kinda all just stops there! My reasoning is that what lies after that is so terrifying that no one had the courage to write about it.
Maybe that is an over reaction but I don’t think so.
One of those things that no one adequately prepares you for is Grade 4. People who have survived it say gravely “gosh but grade 4 was tough” or “I don’t know how we made it out of Grade 4 alive.” but then it is like sharing any more about it is national security.
Well I am here to tell you why Grade 4 is a tough year for both you and your child.
Grade 4 is the year your child starts actively (and aggressively) moving to the edge of the nest. It is the year that they start realising there is a big wide world out there and they want in on the action. It is also the year they start with exams unless you unschool or Montessori or one of those other progressive options.
But for those of us who have kids at school, public or private, they start exams. It is also the year they get different teachers for different subjects. Basically school world as your child knows it gets turned on it’s head.
It is so traumatic that teachers wait 5 years until they do it again in Grade 9.
If you haven’t taken your kid out of school at this point and left them to forage in the wild, then let me share some of my tips and ideas on how to make it through alive.
Take a step back. Not a tiny shuffle but a big BFG sized step back. Your child is now old enough to pack their own bag, do their homework on their own, get dressed by themselves. I know it may feel like they aren’t and you may have to do some reminding but they are able to do it on their own. One of our schools actually sent a note asking parents to please let the children do things on their own. This is the year they learn if they leave stuff at home, it’s tough.
Side note: I still did (and do) take stuff to my kids IF and only IF it isn’t out of my way or it impacts a team (like leaving a swimming costume at home for a gala).
Teach them how to study on their own! We all need a little help in the beginning but don’t study for your child, teach them how to do it on their own. We all know the various ways of studying, find which one works best for your child and help them to figure it out. Then leave them. Be available but do not force them. They know what they need to do and they know the consequences. My older two learn very differently but they have their groove now and it is much easier.
Side note: Obviously this depends on your child, it may take a year of you helping them for them to get it on their own or it may take one term. I am not suggesting you leave your kid without a paddle in the middle of the raging torrents.
Boundaries. Boundaries are my vibe! They help keep the wheels of my chaos turning. Set those boundaries when your Grade 4 starts with the back chat, attitude and sass!
Don’t take it all too seriously. When those first set of exam results come back, do not freak out. Even if your kid didn’t study, be chill. Don’t let them see the fear or anger. A bad exam does not mean they are never going to leave the house, it just means they are struggling a little more than expected (unless of course they didn’t open a book, in that case consider boarding school?).
Pay attention. I am adding this one in because my mother reads my blog and she tells me this all the time. It is good advice and I pay more attention than I let on! (Really mom I do :-p). You have to know what your kids are doing and how they are doing. Address issues immediately, don’t wait. If your child is unhappy with a teacher or struggling with a subject, deal with it.
Grade 4 was a tough year for me and I both kids. The first term was rough but they adjusted and so did I and then Cameron went to Grade 9 and found myself curled in a ball sobbing uncontrollably but that is a story for next time. What I will say is when a high school teacher or principal says “this year is going to be tough” – BELIEVE THEM and then imagine what life is like as a FBI trainee at Quantico and double the trauma.
Side note: That is definitely an over reaction but it is how it felt. I have also just finished watching Quantico and identified so much with them!
Side side note: YES I did just compare myself to fictional FBI trainees. What of it!
Have survived Grade 4 yet? OR are you in the trenches? Must I send help?
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