Helicopter parenting: It’s one concept I firmly believe I avoid. Or at least I thought I did.
As a parent, I’m a big fan of promoting independence and attempt to foster situations that allow my sons to figure things out on their own as much as possible.
Right up until it comes to schoolwork. I blame this on the school as much as on myself. Now that parents and teachers have a much more direct and near instantaneous line of communication we, as parents, are expected to be far more involved with managing our kids day to day school work and study habits.
This all stems from a recent struggle we’ve had with Big Bit. Now in the 6th grade, the workload and expected responsibility level are intensifying. Teachers update grades and homework expectations online daily. It’s great in that I know immediately when my son skips an assignment. We have time for a course correction and at least partial credit.
It’s not so great when a teacher ninja posts a new project after school has released on a Friday afternoon.
So, there we are – helplessly staring in frustration at a small series of zeroes due to yet again, missing assignments – and we ask ourselves, “How do we help him be more responsible for this?” At this point, we’re all exhausted by the daily routine:
- Check his completed assignments to what’s listed in his agenda.
- Check each teacher’s website to confirm he’s actually written it down properly and that there are no ninja assignments.
- Have him complete the at least one inevitably missed assignment.
- Check the school’s website that has the posted grades to see what’s missing from previous days. They’re still always at least one. Have him complete that assignment too.
Rinse and repeat daily. Now, despite the zeroes and 50% grades from missing and late work he still has an even split of A’s and B’s for his cumulative grades.
Then it dawned on me. In 6th grade I missed homework. I didn’t have a teacher’s website to check; if I didn’t write it down in class I had to phone a friend or deal with the consequences. My grades slipped and I spent the next quarter grounded. Funny thing happened next, I improved.
In this case, all these wonderful tools are preventing my son from just dealing with the consequences of not keeping track of these things himself. It’s time for him to sink or swim on his own. Time for a skinned knee or two. He’s going to falter and fall down, but he’ll get up, grow and learn. And I just need to step aside and let it happen.