Why School Awards Aren't All That Matter

Elementary school is done for my oldest & my youngest is now a first grader. Alora & Vivia ended the school year with awards, certificates, honors, & I’m so proud of them! They’ve worked hard & it shows. While I love the accolades their hard work earns, they are NOT the highlight for me.

They never are.

2 peanut butter girls

I do my best to make sure my daughters don’t measure their worth by certificates, praise, & grades. All of those things are nice & important, but fleeting. The girls know to do their best, however, if their best efforts don’t land them on a stage to receive applause, they should value themselves just the same (if not more).

Alora has had her share of academic struggles & victories alike. She’s aced many classes but math has been her greatest challenge thus far! It has taken its toll mentally & emotionally.

There have been numerous times she didn’t make the honor roll because of a lower math grade. This was once nearly impossible for her to deal with & it has taken monumental encouragement, reassurance, & redirection to change her focus. She now views the honor roll as a cake topping, not the whole cake or its frosting!

I consistently teach my daughters to:

-Look at how far they’ve come & realize their personal growth

-Celebrate small victories joyfully

-Be their own cheerleaders

-Take their eyes off of other classmates/people as it relates to measuring up

-See the bigger picture

Comparison really is the thief of joy!

The lessons aren’t always easy for them (or me!) but we’re works in progress.

It broke my heart…

A few years ago, Alora told me I didn’t need to attend her school program because she wasn’t “getting anything.” In other words, she wasn’t receiving any awards. I’ll never forget that. It broke my heart.

I remember asking her why she thought I showed up for her activities. Although she said “to support me and because you love me,” I wasn’t convinced she really understood. I hugged her & had a heart-to-heart. I need my kids to KNOW I will be there no matter what.

I don’t care about honor roll or pieces of paper (certificates). I don’t care what the tests & letter grades say about them. I don’t care what any of their classmates receive. I’m there for THEM & proud of them ALWAYS!

I know who my daughters are & their potential. They are very intelligent but I care more about what’s in their hearts than what they regurgitate onto paper & computer screens. The things my family values cannot be measured with a test score! Allow me to share a couple of their greatest accomplishments this year.

Something to be proud of…

A few days ago after receiving awards, Alora faced one of her biggest fears: singing in front of an audience. She signed up (on her own) to sing with a friend during her school talent show. I cannot convey to you how terrified she has been to share this talent-one of many- with the world. (Including ME at times!)

Her voice is beautiful!

After a failed audition by her standards, she questioned if she could or even wanted to continue. I refused to tell her what to do but pointed out how unhappy she’d be with herself if she allowed fear to win. I also pointed out how proud I was of her & how she’d already won by facing her fear.

The next day she let me know she was continuing. #ThatsMyGirl My baby may have been nauseous & terrified but she showed up for herself & kicked fear’s butt! THIS, my dear readers, is what I care about.

As you may have read, at the beginning of the school year Vivia suffered crippling anxiety about attending school. There were days I had to use tough love & force her to stay. I left the school grounds in tears too many times. After months of reassurance & relying on the village for help, Vivia eventually reached the point where, although crying from nervousness, she chose to walk to class alone & face her fears.

She wanted to be a “big girl.”

Since then Vivia has come out of her shell & made many friends. She joined the school Tech Club & can’t wait to get more involved next year! THIS, my dear readers, is what I care about. There is no award, honor roll, etc that can measure up to these accomplishments in my eyes!

Character counts & both Alora & Vivia are caring & accepting of others. They befriend the friendless, stand up/speak out when necessary, & encourage others to believe in themselves. My daughters embrace differences (race, gender, size, religion, sexual orientation, fashion sense, etc.) & know that the world is better because of them.

My girls aren’t without fault but feel free to show me a human who is!

Don’t worry… I’ll wait.

Showing up fearlessly…

After watching certain shows or talking to other kids, Alora often thanks me for pushing her but not pressuring her to be perfect. She knows she can show up with any grade fearlessly as long as she’s tried her hardest. There have been times she hasn’t done her best but instead of always turning to punishment, I like to figure out why.

Is she not understanding the content? Does she not like the subject/teacher? If not, why & how can I/we help? Is she discouraged? Nowadays, I do my best to be solution-oriented instead of focusing on the problem alone. However, in some cases, my girls learn they have to suck it up, stick it out, & do their best anyway.

That’s life.

I hope as their mom, I’m giving my daughters a blueprint to be well-rounded human beings who give a damn. I’ll always encourage them to work hard & bring their dreams into fruition but I’ll push them even harder to travel, explore, & be citizens of the world. I’ll push them to care about others but demand respect, set boundaries, & create their own paths. So far… they haven’t ceased to amaze me!

Look out world!