Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Character Not Awarded

I cannot be the only one…who has found their child's first year of public Kindergarten trying at the best of times and down right frustrating the rest of the time. I’ve discussed my dismay at the entirely satisfactory report card (literally, all satisfactory marks) and the abundance of fundraising being pushed on us monthly, but my latest annoyance is in response to the Character Awards.

The Character Awards are a school wide ceremony held on the playground in the morning before the kids head off to their classrooms. Each teacher chooses four students from their class to acknowledge with an award, such as most improved, good sportsmanship, etc., and then the award is presented to the students by the school principal.

Sure, this all sounds friendly and inane enough, but the way the school goes about the award
This boy's character is boundless!
ceremony and the reasons Sonny Boy’s teacher doles out the awards is where my issues comes into play.

First, only the parents of the children receiving an award are alerted of the ceremony. The rest of us parents find out the morning of the ceremony when the parking lot is overflowing and well-dressed families are flooding onto the playground with cameras hanging from their necks. Why not let all the parents know about the award ceremony?

Secondly, some of the awards that have been issued to Sonny Boy’s classmates have been to children with behavioral problems who receive the “Shows Improvement” award, or the student with the broken arm during the first semester who was awarded “Good Sportsmanship” (I guess he had to sit on the bench while the other children played, which constitutes good sportsmanship).  These awards have been based on extraneous circumstances, how could another child compete for good sportsmanship unless he had a broken arm to NOT complain about, or how could they show improvement unless their frequent visits to the principals office have decreased recently?

Thirdly, the children who have not received an award, but watched politely and cheered for their peers while they were being recognized and awarded, are confused about what it takes to become one of those special kids.  Sonny Boy actually said to me after the most recent Character Awards ceremony, “I have to start trying a lot harder if I am ever going to get one of those awards.” Obviously, breaking my heart and forcing me to make up for his feelings of inadequacy with an impromptu trip to the frozen yogurt shop (and letting him load on his own toppings, an expensive way to show that I think he has character).

I know not everyone can win an award, I don’t necessarily agree with the handing out of trophies just for participating, and I do think having our children learn to be graceful losers is an important life lesson, but at school it would be nice to level the playing field a little when acknowledging our little scholars for their displays of character.

10 comments:

  1. So you agree with kids learning to be graceful losers and not getting an award just for showing up but just don't like it when it's YOUR special snowflake learning the lesson?

    Instead of telling your kid, "hey! It must be really hard for Bobby to have to always sit out because he BROKE HIS FREAKING ARM. Aren't you glad he had a chance to feel as good today as you did the time when you hit that home run/made the winning goal/whatever?"

    Instead you bitch and complain that it's not fair. Nice. Hopefully your kid turns out better than you. It's kindergarten. Get over it.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      The kids who are not recipients of the awards handle it fantastically, although they are a bit confounded as to the parameters in which the awards are given.

      Thanks again!

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  2. I feel a lot of those awards are given arbitrarily. This is from both a mom's POV and a teacher's POV. I worked for a principal who gave out student of the month awards. A 3rd grade class finally realized it was done in alphabetical order when a prize was given to a kid who had moved months earlier. Yikes.
    I'd like it if kids had a chart/list or whatever of how to earn an award. Then they can learn goal setting and try to earn/win that award due to their own efforts.

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    1. What a great idea, to offer the kids a glimpse into what helps the teacher decide who is rewarded, this way they could work towards a goal (and when they missed the goal, the kids would have an idea of what to work harder on for the next time)!

      Thanks for your insight Marcia!

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  3. What I find at my kids' school is that all children get the award at some point during the year and are recognised for their special talents and achievements, because everyone has something special about them. So it does get leveled out in the long run and it seems to work well with the kids.

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    1. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      Other parents have had the same experience as yourself, the awards eventually make their way to all our kids, unfortunately when I inquired about these Character Awards I was told they only happen twice a year (spring and fall semesters).

      It is only our first year at the school, who knows, next year Sonny Boy could sweep the awards :)

      Thanks again!

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  4. Wow, I couldn't agree with you more on this!!! My son actually went to a somewhat small private school and now an even smaller one. They have had the same type of situation in the past. There was one child that got student of the month when my son was in 2nd grade. He came home so confused. He told me how hard he'd been working but that the student who never got to school on time, didn't turn in all of his homework and was behind in class got the student of the month award (which was a culmination of academics, social and behavioral excellence). Was it just a coincidence that mother of that student was always buying the teacher lunch, coffee etc. Unfortunately it's at many schools. We've gotten those problems rectified but it took time (and new teachers). Is there any sort of PTA/PTO organization where you could make your concerns known? Even just leaving an anonymous letter might help. I agree with you though that this really isn't teaching the students anything and can really hurt the ones who are really trying!

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    1. I LOVE your advice of addressing my questions/concerns about the Character Awards with the PTA, thank you for that!

      I think it's common to forget that teachers are people too, they make choices based on their own set of priorities and school can be just as unfair or as political as any other professional business, it feels harder to accept because it involves our children directly.

      Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting on this topic!

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  5. I think all kinds of awards are somewhat arbitrary. At work, I once got a Diversity award for ordering a pizza lunch for a dozen white people. But on the other hand, I was passed over for a volunteer service award even though I had hundreds of hours of volunteer time for half a dozen different organizations. Life isn't fair, but it's hard for a bunch of little kids to understand. #SITSSharefest

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    1. Adrian,

      You are right, so many awards in life (not just elementary school, that's just the beginning) are handed out for reasons that are less than award worthy, while great selfless things people do are completely overlooked (as in your volunteer hours).

      The kids put on great brave faces when they are not winning an award, but I am sure their parents are getting similar, "How do I get one of those awards" question at home.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

      #sitssharefest all the way!

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