Posted tagged ‘homework’

Walking the walk … of trust

September 18, 2013

“I indicated that I would not be signing homework logs or reading logs and that I would be giving my child permission to sign my name. And then I told the teacher why. And I was clear about this. I went back to my original statement – I am raising a thinking child and I have no intention of interfering with their thinking by lecturing, nagging, reminding, scolding, bribing or saving them from their first chance at investing in their own educational success. Homework I stated was between the teacher and my child and if there were consequences for not turning in homework I expected the teacher to dole them out to my child. I would support the teacher unless humiliation was involved in the consequence.” —Vicki Hoefle

Last year I said something similar to Charlotte’s 5th grade teacher and after the initial shock wore off, he said, “All right then, I guess we’ll give it a try.”

Later, at a parent conference he remarked, “I must say that the other day Charlotte hadn’t signed her reading log and when I pointed it out she said, ‘Oh…well…I forgot to do my reading last night.’ So, what do you know? It’s working!”

This year, I wrote the following note. Charlotte happily took it to school…

Reading Contract

By Ellen (aka Shrubio)

May 27, 2012

My daughter Ellen has her own blog now. She gave me permission to reblog this post about parental help gone awry and how it feels to lose ownership of your work. In her own words…


Heyo! Tis Shrubio. I’m am gonna talk about control. If you ever make a model for school or for some graded assignment else where, then you get the chance to make something. YOU. Not your parent, not your sibling but YOU. I don’t know if you have gone through this, but I sure have. You get the assignment directions from your teacher and you bring them home. When you get started, maybe you don’t know how to cut out the shape you want of wood or foam board so you ask your parent for some instruction on how to cut it out. First you ask about the cutting it out, then when it’s cut, you may get some comments from your parent on how to make it better. They take over. They get out all of these complex tools and start working. Suddenly you’re just sitting there watching your project…

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Mother’s Day Gift

May 15, 2012

A memorable Mother’s Day gift this year was this affirmation from Ellen as we were bouncing together on our backyard trampoline:

Ellen: “That was funny what my friend said … that what she likes about our family is that all the kids talk to the grown-ups like kids and all the grown-ups talk to the kids like kids.”

Me: “That’s in a good way?”

Ellen: “Yes!”

Me: “What, other families aren’t like that?”

Ellen: “No! In other families the grown-ups are like, ‘Do the dishes! Do your homework! Bedtime. Bedtime! BEDTIME!!’ And the kids just look at them and say, ‘Ok.'” [Then she did a robotic-zombie walk across the trampoline.]

Me: “Oh, they act like robots? … Yeah, I’m not interested in raising robots.” [Find out why.]

And we bounced together some more.

Meanwhile, I joined a book club (another perk of this parenting approach is that I now have time for such things). We’re reading Anna Quindlen’s latest which offers this perspective:

“If your mother has been micromanaging your homework since you were six, it’s hard to feel any pride of ownership when you do well. You can’t learn from mistakes and disappointments if your childhood is engineered so there aren’t any. … How could they be excited about their jobs, their opinions, their lives, if they felt that they were secondhand, jerry-built, not truly their own, if they weren’t discovering the world anew? … It is the ultimate pay-it-forward endeavor: we are good parents not so they will be loving enough to stay with us but so they will be strong enough to leave us.”

The long-term benefits for the kids is clear. And for the parents? …

“I asked him once about his memories of my mothering … ‘You sorta freaked out during the college application process,’ he noted accurately. But then he wrote, ‘What I remember most: having a good time.’

There’s the problem with turning motherhood into martyrdom. There’s no way to do it and have a good time.”

Let the good times roll.

Best of intentions

April 30, 2012

homework photoMost teachers have the best of intentions, and deep down they want the same things I do: children who are independent, confident, and resilient. But, like many parents, they don’t always see where they’re interfering with those goals. And besides that, fostering independence is often simply not convenient.

So when the desire for things to go smoothly in the classroom starts to obscure those shared goals of independence, confidence, and resilience … I push back:

Teacher email: “Charlotte had stated she left a pile of homework papers at home on a table. I’m hoping she can bring them in on Monday for review during French time. Any assist with reminders Sunday evening or Monday morning is welcome.”

My response: “I know your intentions are good and you’re trying to help Charlotte, but reminders from Mom only serve to interfere with her growing independence. I trust she’ll figure out a way to remember on her own (maybe not right away, but soon enough).”

I happened to have another discussion about reminders with a different teacher shortly after. Here’s how it went:

Teacher: “Charlotte does well when she’s reminded of what she needs to do.”

Me: “Hmm. I know it seems like a reminder would help her to remember next time, but it actually has the opposite effect.”

Teacher: “Well, she doesn’t seem to be making those connections on her own.”

Me: “I know you’re trying to keep on a schedule so I’m guessing she doesn’t have many chances to practice.”

Teacher: “Yes, I can see that maybe the problem is I’m expecting change to happen too quickly.”

This was a highly constructive conversation with a teacher who was open to considering another point of view. These conversations don’t always go so well. Here’s one more I’ve had:

Me: “One thing you should know about me. I’m not willing to be the homework police. My job is to notice progress and effort when it happens, and make sure she knows I love her no matter what.”

Teacher: “So let me get this straight. You expect us to keep her on track in school, but you’re not willing to do the same at home?”

Me: “No, actually. If you want to let her get off track and stay there and allow some natural consequence to result, that’s fine with me.”

Teacher: Long, incredulous stare.

So, ok, they don’t always go well, these conversations. But either way they are well worth having.