Creative and Authentic – That’s What Parents Save

I’m moving soon. We are on the countdown, and it’s now 12 days to moving day.

This is a move of prodigious proportions. We have sold our house and furniture. We are going through all our additional belongings and saving only the most important. We have digitized VHS tapes, micro tapes, and even home movies on DVDs.

Today I went through all the saved school work from grades K-8 of Daughter #1.

More worksheets
AR certificates, math worksheets, spelling tests

So much of what I looked through was easy to decide what to do with. Into the trash can went high stakes test results, report cards, Accelerated Reader certificates, and worksheets.

It doesn’t matter if a student is a high achiever or a low achiever, no parent wants to have years worth of test scores and reports cards that give little information about who their child really is. Most of the report cards had meaningless letter grades with few heartfelt comments. Year after year of high stakes test results don’t show anything worth knowing about my daughter or her education.

Those A.R. certificates remind me of how teachers over the years required my children to read on their tested level. That’s one way to squelch the love of reading–telling a sixth grader she has to read books on a high school level. Really? What is the purpose of Accelerated Reader anyway? It doesn’t promote a love of lifelong reading.

Worksheets. We have stored hundreds of our daughter’s worksheets over the last two decades. Really, no child has ever been deeply invested in a worksheet, have they? Twenty years later and that is even more evident. These were easy to throw away. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for all the hours my daughter wasted on some of these activities.

This looked hopeful…


What was in the proud papers folder? More worksheets.

Ironically, I didn’t save one piece of paper from the Proud Papers Folder.  This teacher didn’t understand that what makes a child proud is not papers marked with 100% or “Great Job.”  Children are proud when they invest in authentic work and do an excellent job because they are passionately involved.

To be sure, there were many items to save. I now have half a tub of  letters, science fair reports, artwork, proposals, (my favorite is a “professionally” written proposal to her dad and me for turning our pool house into a club house for her and her friends). Today, while looking through her things, I had fun reading her beautiful poetry and the personal experience narratives that made me laugh and remember.

Some she did all on her own, outside of class. Some were assigned by teachers, like this Pandora’s box made during a unit on ancient Greece.

But all are authentic and creative.  That’s what I saved.

Horrible things in Pandora’s Box, like spinach and Brussels sprouts

6 thoughts on “Creative and Authentic – That’s What Parents Save

  1. Denise,
    You stated it so well. Worksheets tell us nothing about who a child is. I wonder how many parents have yet to figure that out? Sadly, I think there are quite a few.

    Safe travels my friend and best wishes for a wonderful adventure. Will be looking forward to reading about what you’ll be doing.


    1. Thank you, JoAnn. I’m almost ready to go. I have a week more to finish up scanning recipes and special papers I want to bring along. It’s quite a journey, but I just had to stop when I realized all the 100% papers I saved that now became meaningless.

      Take care,

  2. I wish you safe travels and a happy move! This post resonates with me on so many levels. As a child growing up I was so proud of “test scores” yet it was the meaningful representations of my learning that Mom kept (pictures, cards, stories, etc…). As our own kids are learning at quick pace I struggle to keep up to date with all that they know, are learning, and are proud of. Video and pictures have been my biggest friend in doing this.

    Once my kids enter school I look forward to many more celebrations of their learning and can only hope that the stories of their learning is what they remember and cherish from their school experiences rather than relating to the fear and anxiety about summative tests that surrounded me when I went to school and still surrounds many students today. These tests help a select few and rarely tell of what a student knows and understands… a lot of times it tells them how good they are at memorizing.

    I think we all realize there is a huge difference between memorizing something and deeply understanding something.

    Thank you Denise for this very important reminder.

    1. The above message was from me Denise. 😀 I wish you well in your next chapter friend!


  3. Ah, yes. I am so struggling with this. I miss our chats; you always inspire me. The struggle: What I am expected to do because of mandates, and what I know better engages students and creates lifelong, innovative, caring learners. I think back on my assignments this year as opposed to previous years, and I am saddened.

    It’s why I created my Sketchbook Project:

    Time for me to “look at those shoes and awake from my trance…”
    for I have “learned that I could and I know that I can…”

    Great post, as always. Inspiration.

    1. Thank you, thank you, Sheri! I needed this today.

      We are in the midst of accreditation meetings with the BOE this week, report cards (with way too many numbers for K students) and parent-teacher conferences coming up soon.

      I am doing my best to allow my students to put their best foot, their own special “dancing shoes” forward, but I’m struggling too.

      Blessings to you, friend,

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