The sooner your kids start taking responsibility for their own ‘school work’ (be it homework, exams or projects), the more calm and peaceful your household will be. Like most parents, I’m guessing that you have a tough time imagining a life of ‘stress free homework’, but it sure seems like a lovely fantasy, doesn’t it?!
My daughter is a pretty independent person and prefers to do things on her own (read “without my interference”). Last school year, her teacher expected that parents check the homework and ensure that learning was taking place (truthfully, there were many days that I had to ‘re-learn’ even basic concepts, before I could hope to help my daughter). Needless to say, there were a lot of battles.
This year started out the same way, with any attempts I made to “check” my daughter’s work being met with exaggerated eye-rolling and lack of cooperation (to put it mildly). However, I decided to try something different this time. Since she was taking responsibility for getting her homework done without any prompting from me, I decided to take a step back and let her fully take control (I let her know, however, that I would always be available if she has a question).
I’m not going to lie…it was hard to surrender control, and I worried that her grades may not be quite as good as they would have been if I was ‘helping’ her, but it was time for me to let go (of course, I still monitor the situation to see if there are any issues). Once I let go, it felt like a tremendous weight had been lifted off my shoulders and the relationship between my daughter and I vastly improved (no more ‘battle of wills’…well, not about homework, anyway).
I realize that not every child is ready to take on this responsibility (I had worked with my daughter on basic study habits for several years beforehand, so she was pretty prepared). In addition, I knew that my job wasn’t exactly ‘done’…if she didn’t learn in school the more advanced study skills she would be needing (e.g. planning out a project, conducting research, etc.), I would have to provide her with these skills, too. Still, it was a start. The next time I met with her teacher, I mentioned that I was ‘handing over the reigns’ (I wanted her to know that work would not be checked when it came back to school the next day) and she felt that my daughter could handle it.
Let’s face it, we probably don’t do our children any favors when we protect them from taking responsibility for themselves. Truth is, often we are helping them for the wrong reasons…because we are afraid that they will not do well and it will reflect poorly on us (I definitely wanted my daughter to do well in school for her sake, but I will also admit that I felt that I would be judged if her grades weren’t good).
When my daughter disappears into her room to study for her math test, there is still a part of me that wants to make sure she is studying “correctly” (old habits die hard), but I do my best to keep my mouth shut as she heads down the hallway. It’s true…she may not end up doing quite as well as if I were ‘helping’ her study, but she will learn from her mistakes and learn how to stand on her own two feet. And, after all, isn’t this ultimately what we all want for our children?
Teach your kids to take responsibility now and their future academic, personal and professional lives will surely benefit!
If you’re interested in teaching your children to take responsibility for themselves, you may also wish to read my posts on “Teaching Responsibility at home: Implementing an after-school routine”, “Goal Setting” and “Preventing and treating frostbite“.