Last night before putting the tribe to bed, Kari and I got all seven of the kids, (yes, we have seven, two in elementary, two in middle and two in high–with one really wanting to go to school and will next year) and assembled them around the dinner table to do a mini-focus group on the first day of school. I'd never tried this with them before; I had a big piece of paper and marker ready to record each of their comments, etc.
WHAT ABOUT THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL?
So here is what we learned: When I asked them to tell me the first thing they thought of about their day, the comments ranged from gym, new, math, and friends. Favorite things about yesterday, the first day of school: (you can tell this came from one of the boys; "lunch." Others said their teacher from last year, orchestra, ROTC, science, and old friends.
The worst thing about their first day of school, math, lunch being at 12:20 p.m. when school starts at 8 a.m., recess was hot–we are in Texas, and the feeling of being lost in a new school with 2,000 kids.
What they thought were their best classes? Biology, ROTC, language arts and orchestra topped the list.
Two said they were almost late once or twice moving from class to class.
Here's one to drive the nutritionists nuts; favorite lunch item? Pizza. Nacho chips. Chicken strips and their sandwich.
All of them confirmed each of their teachers, spent a good portion of the first day laying down the law, I mean, explaining the rules of their classrooms. "Don't smile before Christmas,' teachers.
WHO WAS THE CUTEST BOY, PRETTIEST GIRL?
For fun, and to throw them off, I asked a quick question and then went straight to the leader of the pack: Who was the prettiest girl, cutest guy you saw today. A couple of them tried to weezle out of answering the question by saying, "You don't find out their name on the first day of school," but nonetheless, we did get some names.
We had some bumps when we asked each of them to tell us what their goal for the six weeks would be. A couple said "no Bs or Cs," keeping grades up, etc. but it took a while for one of them to acknowledge there needed to be some goals. We have more work to do in this area.
WHAT DID WE NOT ASK, THAT YOU WISH WE HAD?
I closed out the session with this questionL "What's the one question you wish mom or dad had asked?"
Are you happy?
How did you do in math?
Did you see your teacher from last year?
Were you bored?–The first period apparently went longer than normal.
What was it like in ROTC?
And the child who didn't go to school? "Tomorrow can I take a juice box?"
We will do this exercise again. And I encourage you to do the same. You can learn a lot from your children, particularly if you have many of them, from doing this exercise. What questions did you not ask yesterday that your kids wished you had?