One of the my favorite things about the girls' elementary school is the way the teachers and staff involve the parents in the education of the children. The school hosts several events at school throughout the year, and the teachers often invite parents to participate in activities in the classroom and to work on projects at home. The staff also encourages parents to volunteer and visit the classrooms and be an active part of the learning process. I really feel our school is successful because of this type of parent involvement.
Kiki's 3rd grade teacher recently assigned the parents "homework", asking us to write an encouraging letter to our child, to help boost her confidence during the week of ISTEP testing (Indiana's assessment tests for school children). Bill and I took this homework very seriously, as we wanted to help encourage Kiki without making her too nervous. She already tends to be a "Nervous Nellie" when it comes to assessments and tests, so we wanted to do what we could to ease her mind.
I couldn't believe how tough of an assignment this was. I write Kiki and Boo notes all of the time and put them in their lunchboxes. I am forever giving them pep talks and doing what I can to make sure they feel confident in their intellectual ability. I often tell them things like "You will do great" or "I know you can do it" before they have a test or when they are working on a project for school. So why was this so hard? Maybe because we wanted to find just the right words, knowing she would likely read that letter over and over again.
Bill and I talked about what we wanted to convey in our letter, and then I sat down to write it. At first I just sat there and didn't know exactly what to write. But as I thought about my beautiful, smart, 3rd grade daughter, I couldn't believe all she had accomplished in her short nine years! My heart filled with pride, and the words started flowing from my mind with ease.
Here is what we wrote:
"We are so lucky to have you in our lives. We are so proud of all you have accomplished in your 9 years and are especially proud of what a great student you are. You work so hard everyday and are a great example to others, including your sister.
ISTEP is your chance to show off all you’ve learned this year. Relax, take your time, and just do your personal best, just as you do everyday. We know you will do great!
We love you all the way to the false planet Pluto and back a million times!"
Kiki didn't tell me when she read her letter. I knew the teacher would be handing out the letters sometime during the first couple of days of testing week. A couple of nights into testing week, after the girls were in bed, I found an envelope addressed to me in Kiki's handwriting on my bathroom sink. Bill found a similar letter on top of his computer keyboard in his office. We knew that meant she had read our letter.
As you can imagine, those few sentences we wrote meant the world to her. She loved the letter so much, she keeps it in her desk at school where she can read it anytime she needs a little boost to get her through the day. I also keep her letter near my desk, right there and ready for when I am needing my own boost:
I love you a whole bunch! Thank you for that nice letter. It made me so happy that I cried a little bit. I am so happy that you are in my life. Every morning I read the letter that you and Daddy wrote me. I love you up to the farthest star from home and back to you. "