Grit

I’ve been in NAIS meetings in Colorado this week, so I am relying on email and skype to hear about my kids’ first days in the classroom. Here’s Jacob’s email response to my classic question: “How was your first day?”

Jacob: “Hi mom actually I might have a chance to make the team”

Nothing about his teachers, friends or what he is learning – he is fully focused on soccer.

Last night when I spoke to both kids, the number one thing they wanted to discuss was whether or not they would get cut tomorrow from soccer and field-hockey.

As parents, we don’t want our children to be disappointed; we want them to excel and have a variety of great opportunities, like playing on a travel team. And as a tuition-paying-parent – and I am sorry to admit it – there’s a part of me that thinks my kids should make the travel teams because I’m not paying for the school to cut my kid. (Dear Ridley College, I promise not to be one of those parents who will call and make such demands.)

I believe in strong co-curricular programs, and I know that parents choose our CAIS schools, in part, because of the well-rounded programs they offer (See yesterday’s Globe where many of our schools were featured). The sports program was the number one reason that Jacob chose Ridley. So is it healthy for kids to be cut?  Let me ask that again – is it healthy for MY kids to be cut?

It is timely that my husband (source of all good ideas….) sent me a New York Times article yesterday, called What if the secret to success if failure? Domenic Randolph is Head of one of New York’s most prestigious independent schools. He has swapped the Head’s office with his secretary and he has one thing on his wall: a white sheet of paper with a big black question mark. He did away with APs, he limits homework and he doesn’t like standardized testing. But what makes him stand out most of all, is his focus on how independent schools develop character. He has spent years developing programs focused on good character and how it can be taught at school. My favorite line is this:

“The idea of building grit and building self-control is that you get that through failure,” Randolph explained. “And in most highly academic environments in the United States, no one fails anything.”

Last night on skype, I liked seeing that they wanted to make these teams – they wanted it badly – and I admired their passion. We spoke about the what ifs – what if they made it and what if they got cut. We agreed that they would try their best and try to stay composed, whether they make it or not

And, thanks to Randolph, I will focus on the value of grit, whether they make it or not.

p.s.  For a complete look at the Globe’s coverage featuring CAIS schools, visit our home page.

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