At a recent school open house, my daughter's teacher informed our group of parents, that this year our kids would be eligible for membership in the national junior honor society. To a group of parents of over-achievers (thus, we are most likely over-achievers ourselves), this caught our attention.
She stressed that grades alone would not guarantee our childrens' membership in this society. They would also be required to participate in two in-school and two out-of-school activities in order to qualify. Immediately, our hands shot up. What could they do? How could we make sure our children were deemed worthy by the NJHS?
This worried me.
My daughter already is stressed by school. She finds the workload and expectations of the school's advanced merit program difficult enough. She is one of those kids who puts unnecessary stress upon herself. As much as we tell her to relax, to not worry, to just do her best, she feels a personal pressure to succeed, to be deemed worthy.
She didn't need to worry about an honor society.
We talked about it. We talked about what she could join that would be fun for her. Her teacher, trying to be helpful, signed her up for the Spelling Club. That sounded good to me, too. She is naturally a good, strong speller - she reads like crazy - so that would be a fit, right?
Wrong. She came home with a schedule. Three days a week before school for 45 minutes with a long, long list of words to "study hard" every night and a schedule of competitions. There were warnings about not being late and needing to really commit to this club. Fun? Hardly.
And this was just one activity! We needed to find three more to qualify.
There is something about this pressure that strikes me as very wrong. Here we have kids who are already over achieving scholastically. They are strong students. Why does the school feel the need to push them further? Why do we need to create personalities that thrive on being over busy and over committed? Is this the type of behavior we want our kids to emulate? Do we prize this?
I would rather have my daughter join activities she loves and participate in things that stretch her to make friends and serve others. I am not so worried about any qualifications or any honors at this stage in her life. I want her to enjoy these middle years.
Stress in life comes soon enough. Let's let our kids be kids for awhile. Let's let them slow down, take a deep breath, read a book, take a walk, daydream, giggle and play - and enjoy being in middle school.