Last week’s parent teacher conference brought to my attention that my six year-old daughter is somewhat lacking ‘organizational skills’. How organized a six year-old is supposed to be I do not know, but I would agree it’s not one of her strong points. Anyone that can go upstairs to get changed for school and come down 30minutes later naked, with a copy of The Beano, clearly needs a little help.
So, no surprizes in regard to my slightly eccentric daughter, but what came as a bit of a blow was Teacher going on to suggest if we were more organized at home it may help organization at school. I knew not to be defensive, I am a teacher myself, but who did she think she was (I thought silently to myself)? Time management and organization is my thing, without it how have I even made it this far? But, had I better consider what she was suggesting? After all, I turned up to see her sweaty and panting, because I was five minutes late for a 3:40pm appointment. It was only when I’d been there a while she informed me the appointment was actually booked for 3:20. I wasn’t exactly oozing organizational skills right now.
Teacher suggested that doing homework at regular times through the week would help. I totally agree… routine is key. If she knows what to expect, she will become more efficient at transitioning from one activity to another. She will know what’s coming, reducing anxiety and eliminating surprizes that can be difficult to process. That’s my teacher training talking. My Mom brain is thinking “How does she even know that we bodge it together whenever I remember, and the rest is cobbled together Sunday night?” I give her a squinty-eyed suspicious look… was she some kind of ninja teacher? Ninjas are one of my daughter’s latest obsessions, so that would be pretty cool. I envisage Teacher in a black jumpsuit and a karate style headband, stalking students at night to check they’ve done their homework… I could write a children’s book.
“…very distracted and finds it difficult to concentrate.” Crap, what was she saying? Deep in thought about the styling of my illustrations, I’d totally lost track of the conversation. Shit, I don’t even know if she is talking about me or my daughter? And at this point does it even matter? We clearly both have a problem, and my husband’s no better, it’s like the blind leading the blind.
We left school and went straight home to create a homework chart for the fridge. Everyone loves a chart, right? The following day I bought a pack of stickers, a multi-pack of hearts, smiley faces and stars – perfect, I thought, this is going swimmingly – check out my organizational skills. My daughter and I sat and discussed what would need to be achieved for a sticker on the chart. It started with a sensible plan of dividing the homework into quarters to be completed Monday-Thursday, ready for EARLY hand-in on Friday, take than Ninja Teacher.
“Let’s use the hearts for homework,” she said. This sounded like a good suggestion, but then things started to get complicated. “But what is the difference between the big hearts and the small hearts?” Hmm… that’s a good question, surely a big heart sticker is superior to a small one, so it seemed unfair to make them equal. “Maybe if you do more than the minimum homework you get a big heart?” A great idea, but it started a snowball…
“Let’s make the smiley faces for finishing my work at school.”
“What can the stars be for?”
“What about the big stars?”
“Maybe I can write +3 on the sticker when my homework is on +3s?”
“What about Friday-Sunday?”
“No, I’m not tidying up, that’s the worst.”
“What do I get if I pass my maths test?”
“But what if I play my recorder and the piano on the same day?”
“How many stickers do I need to get a prize?”
“Let’s have a different coloured heart for every week.”
My head was spinning, I should have been taking notes. What did she have to do for a small star again? And was there any difference in the colour of the smiley faces? What do I have to do to get her to tidy up? What would Ninja Teacher do?
So… I’m feeling pretty defeated right now. Defeated by crappy organizational skills, and defeated by a six-year old who, thinking about it may well be a ninja too. We’re a week in and the chart is a random scattering of pink and red hearts, a blue smiley face and two small sparkly stars. I have no idea what that means but I don’t see any large hearts, so know she hasn’t been doing any extra homework. No surprises there.
What can you learn from this tale of two ninjas?
- Teachers are always right;
- Don’t let a six year-old make decisions for you;
- You may not be the person you always thought you were;
- Buy boring identical stickers to make charts;
If any of you are planning on becoming an actual Ninja, the images in this post were sourced from a very useful article titled ‘How to be a Ninja at school’. People lacking organizational skills may want to read something more useful… can’t help you there.