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I Took My 5th-Grader On

A College Tour To

Motivate Him In School

And it was totally worth it.

I’m sitting in one of those student chairs that almost forces my knees up to my chin. All I can think to myself is, “Thank God both of my bottom cheeks fit in the seat.” I'm waiting for my son’s 5th-grade teachers to compile their “evidence.”

When they are ready with samples of Henry’s work product, before turning toward me, they look at each other. I brace myself because I know that my son is that kid who is more interested in entertaining a group of strangers than moving decimal points to the right.

One of his teachers begins the meeting.“So, exactly how important are good grades to you?” she asks.

I did not see her question coming. For all of my education and parenting experience, I had no idea how to respond.

“Because,” she continues, “not every child is particularly academically inclined. We love Henry. He is so sweet, so sensitive, and so funny. He does great at what he likes to do, but he just isn't interested in doing what he doesn’t like — which appears to be math, science, and social studies. But, he is doing really well in Spanish, computer science, and art.”

Seriously, the child comes to these subjects naturally.

I strain my brain to remember how life was for me in the 5th grade. I think history was the bane of my existence back then, and it is ironic that I received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and History, which I later came to actually enjoy.

“Well,” I begin in mine and my son’s defense, “I have scheduled him to take a tour of Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. Henry actually found and identified Full Sail as his university of choice because they offer Game Art and Game Design programs. They have an open house in November. I registered him to attend it in hopes of inspiring and motivating him.”

Henry’s teachers, almost in unison, exclaimed, “Oh, that’s a wonderful idea!”

And so, armed with the validation and approval of his teachers, my intentions of how to help my child succeed in school were resolved.

About a month later, after school on a Thursday afternoon, I loaded Henry and his younger brother into the car. We made the hike from Louisiana to Orlando, Florida, for our onsite review of Full Sail.

We hit the campus, which was replete with at least 200 high school juniors, seniors, and soon-to-be first-year college freshmen.

Henry was by far the youngest prospective student there. While he was quiet and reserved in these unfamiliar surroundings, I could tell he loved every minute of it.

I will tell you, Full Sail puts on an open house like I’ve never witnessed before. I mean seriously, law schools take notes.

The first session was in their industry spec production studio, where the introduction video was as entertaining and informative as a Super Bowl commercial.

From there we went into our Game Design breakout session, which was located across the campus in one of the University’s lecture rooms. My child was actually taking lecture notes!

From there we went into a smaller classroom where two professors explained the program’s required 4-month long group game design competition. Again, I look over and Henry is taking notes!

“Must know geometry and math,” he writes.

The half-day session wrapped up with all attendees gathered into a huge auditorium, apparently where concerts and WWE events are regularly held. After concluding remarks, our family was directed to a buffet lunch and directed to admissions counselors, financial aid counselors, and their admissions team.

Seriously, the experience was phenomenal.

We grabbed our plates of food and made a bee-line to the admissions director I’d connected with prior to our visit. She happily answered Henry’s questions and reiterated the importance of starting now by making sure to get good grades in math and in the 5th grade overall.

After the open house, the three of us loaded up back into the car and headed home.

“What did you think about all that, Henry?” I asked.

“I loved it. I am going there,” he answered, shaking his head affirmatively.

It’s been a few weeks now since our educational field trip, and you’re probably wondering if my crazy idea paid off.

I am happy to report, after just pilfering the papers of school work his teachers sent home from last week, Henry’s grades have improved.

I credit this improvement to both Full Sail’s open-mindedness and amazing open house, as well as to Henry’s twice-a-week sessions with a tutor who, unlike me, doesn’t break into tears or pour red wine like water when helping with homework.

I am so thankful and grateful for the teachers Henry has had this year. They are intuitive and open-minded enough to recognize and appreciate that children are not all round pegs, and that differences and uniqueness should be encouraged and validated, as opposed to being stifled and suppressed.

Finally, I could never express enough the love and adoration I have for Henry, who blesses my life immeasurably.