I don’t know about the rest of you, but I have very little recollection of my middle and high school years. I certainly don’t remember being assigned the volume of homework that is the reality for today’s children. My parents were largely absent from my educational experience. There were no discussions regarding subject material or due dates. Occasionally I would receive help from my father with math but that seemed to be the extent of their involvement.
I believe that the experience of today’s parents is much different. We are expected to have an active role in our children’s academic experience. I try and check the parent portal weekly to view grades and missing assignments. I sometimes will skip a week only to find that when I do log back on the bold red “missing” stares back at me from my computer screen. I can’t help but feel in these situations that I am the one who has dropped the ball. I hate the role of homework nagger. I have come to dread “school projects” ie. science fair and history day as much as my children.
Two of my children spent most of their grade school years in a small Catholic school. The teachers knew my children well and took on the role of pestering them regarding assignments, due dates etc. In the larger public school system my experience has been quite different. Each time at conferences I need to re-introduce myself. The teachers look up my son’s grades, test scores etc in their books while I wait for the light bulb to go off in their head as to who my child is.
It seems as though my children have no ability to move information from their short-term into their long-term memory. Our youngest has lost two planners since September. Despite providing him with an organizer with multiple pockets that replaces multiple folders, his backpack continues to be jammed with loose papers and assignments. This past weekend I went out and purchased him new, sturdier notebooks. I labeled the notebooks and the pockets of his organizer by subject. We went through all of his loose papers and tossed the ones he no longer needs and filed the ones he does into the correct folder pocket. So lo and behold when I cued him tonight to work on his history project, he discovered his history notebook missing. He will likely have to redo the research that he completed this past weekend because the notes were in the notebook. Is it any wonder that I am drinking a strong brandy 7 as I compose this blog post.
My oldest son is working on a year long “personal project.” This past Fall, I did not spend a great deal of time reading through the packet which included the steps students needed to follow to meet the deadlines and ultimately complete the project. My son chose a difficult project that involved financial output on our part. He is building a mini bike with a motor. His dad approved this project. I likely would not have if the decision had been left solely to me. Last evening I took the time to read through the packet only to find that my son has done only a small % of the work that should have been completed by now.
My question is a simple one, at what point in a child’s life do we let go of the control and allow them to fail? As I read through the project and the reality of how far behind my son’s work is I began to get heart palpatations. I told Tom earlier today that I cannot be responsible any longer for being the only one tracking the academic achievement of our children. School resumes for me next week which will make my plate much fuller than it is now. Tom agreed to oversee our oldest son’s academic work and I would focus on our younger son. I hate to admit that neither of us are concerned with our middle son’s academic performance. There are so many battles to fight with this particular child that academics has always been placed on the back burner. As my sister once said as long as there are pizzas to be delivered, there are employment opportunities.
So I sit here tonight feeling somewhat lighter after having vented through the written word but no more confident in my children’s abilities to take responsibility for their own achievements. I would love some feedback from friends who have survived their children’s school years realatively unscathed. Either that or I’ll need to store up some brandy and hunker down for the long haul.