Beckett had mid-term exams this week to wrap up the semester.
Therefore, I’m exhausted. I have not studied so much since college.
Since it has become painfully evident our guy doesn’t really grasp the concept of studying yet, I set out on a mission last week to invest some time with him, teaching him how to prepare for these major tests on his own. Beckett has the mindset of wanting to do well in school. He’s a competitive type and wants to get good grades. As he is getting older and school is becoming more comprehensive, he is learning an important lesson. He will not succeed at his school without hard work.
School has typically come easy to him. He has never had to truly work hard at his studies. The exception being for projects and papers. In the past, he has been able to listen in class and retain enough to get through with good grades on tests and quizzes. He’s now in seventh grade. There is simply too much material to retain for a mid-term exam over the course of four months to not put in time studying.
Last year was his first year of mid-terms, which count for 10% of his semester grade. His grades were disappointing. He didn’t put in the work. We took his word when he said, “I got it,” and did not help him study. He didn’t have finals because of the pandemic. This year’s mid-terms I set out to focus on showing him how to study so he could be more independent moving forward.
There were some stumbles right out of the gate last Saturday. Rather than utilize some of the tactics I was throwing his way to prepare for the test, such as rewriting and organizing his notes and study guides, he wanted me to immediately quiz him based on previous tests in the subjects. We decided to focus on science since it was his first exam and challenging because of the amount of content and terms about the atmosphere, weather and national disasters.
Rather than argue, I said I would quiz him, hoping he would stumble through the questions. I estimate he got about 75% of the answers correct initially. It was a good starting point so show what he knew and where he needed work. It expedited the effort, and we followed that process for the other subjects. I gave him credit for the good idea. He never let me forget it during our 15 hours of studying over several days.
Helping him study for these tests was both enjoyable and exhausting. I was able to learn what study methods will work for him and what will not. Studying for him might have to incorporate standing on his skateboard, firing darts across the room, shooting hoops in his room, listening to music and interruptions every now and again with hopes Patrick Mahomes is going to be alright, questions about Trump’s hair and statements about how I should leave the Christmas light up all year to save time.
Some other topics covered in between study questions involved changes associated with puberty, Joe Biden’s family background, whether we could go to the Super Bowl and if something happened to his mom and me years from now whether he would be responsible for taking care of his little brother as an adult. These were not exactly light topics to disregard. Instead of ignoring his queries, I told him let’s talk about it after we study instead of you going outside skateboarding. I’m still waiting for those chats.
What I have gleaned from these hours of working with him on his tests is he can stay focused despite all these other aspects going on around him. He’s different than me in that way. It was a test for me to stay on task because I typically work in silence to keep focused. It’s almost as if peace and calm don’t work for him. He needs multiple things going on and his mind wandering to maintain concentration. It could be a sign of the times with his generation.
I also learned he has an incredible ability to retain information when he must. It’s simply a matter of desire with him. It’s an incredible gift to be able to memorize the way he can. It should serve him well in the future.
When he left school the morning of his history exam, he could tell me anything and everything he knew about the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments and the years they were enacted. He also could list the various compromises over slavery and the importance of each.
On the day of his science exam, he knew the Scientific Method inside and out, the three ways heat is transferred and examples of each, the four different types of weather fronts and the components of the water cycle.
On English exam day, he was well versed on every synonym and antonym for his 70 vocabulary words and knew the differences well between all the jurors in “12 Angry Men.” He also knew how to identify a participle in sentences and fix common grammar mistakes.
When it came to math and his pre-algebra exam, he showed me how to write a linear equation in slope-intercept form as opposed to an equation in point-slope form. I admit to being quite lost as to how to help him on the pre-algebra, but I was able to let him know when his handwriting was not neat enough for the teacher to read.
When he came home each day, he felt good about the exams. Here’s to hoping his (our) hard work paid off.