The subject of grades, the importance of earning good grades and how they affect a person’s college options, has been conversation that I have been having with my kids since before they even learned to read. Knowing how much I value education, one thing always confused them: “Why didn’t you finish college, mom?”
My throat would dry up, and I’d feel knots in my stomach. There was no good answer. I lacked drive and determination. I couldn’t say this out loud for many years.
I felt ashamed because even though I got good grades in high school, those grades from Bell High didn’t mean much. I knew I wasn’t prepared for college. I was not encouraged to go to college. I never felt smart or important in school. I refused to let that terrible LAUSD cycle impact my kids.
Five years ago, when my daughter was in eighth grade, I made a commitment and all that changed. I decided go back to junior college to finish my general education and then transfer to earn my BA. I had been out of school for over 10 years before my return. I put all my excuses away.
I took the placement exam and began my college journey with one class per semester. Now my daughter saw me studying late at night and figuring out how to manage my time. I continued working full time, and after a while even had another baby, all while staying in school. My hands have been full.
Like many students, I had some discouraging moments. I have wanted to throw in the towel numerous times and did end up taking a couple of semesters off when my son was born and when I became ill. But my commitment to myself and my daughter helped me not lose sight of my goals. Quitting is not an option.
Several things encouraged me to stay on track.
The college has a great preschool, and as soon as he was old enough, I enrolled my son. Knowing that he gets priority if I remained enrolled in school has helped motivate me to continue taking courses.
As my daughter’s high school years carried on, she began to face some challenges with her grades. While we mapped out her plan to improve her grades, I also committed to end my semesters with nothing lower than a B. We would face this challenge together. Final grades made me nervous. With my daughter’s support as well as the support of friends and other family members, I felt good about what I’d achieved. I managed to earn all B’s.
My daughter is senior in high school and will graduate in May; she finished her semester with exceptional grades. We celebrate our accomplishments together, and these celebrations help us stay focused on the higher purpose of our efforts.
In this parenting/student journey I have learned some valuable lessons and the most important one is understanding we are our children’s biggest influence and role models. I share this story with you, to remind you that our children watch us even when we think they aren’t. They notice everything. And connecting on deeper level is something that strengthens bonds.
Success is a team effort. Working toward our goals together has helped our family, and I am positive it can help yours too. I encourage you to find creative ways to motivate your kids, and constantly remind them you’re in this struggle together.
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