Chatter on Children
This Year, Let Your Children Fail in School
Throwing a safety net under a kid is tantamount to slinging a noose around his neck. Everyone wants kids to succeed. All adults want children to become responsible, independent learners who grow to make wise decisions. So why do adults get in the way of kids’ success? It’s done every day–adults rescuing kids from certain failure. See if this scenario is familiar. Alan, 9, has known since October 1 that his book report is due by the end of the month.
Mom sees at the end of the second week, Alan hasn’t even started. “Alan, you’re going to read the next 20 pages for your book report. I mapped out how many pages you have to read every day to still have time to write the report, but you’ll only make it if you keep to my schedule. Now get started.” He trudges upstairs and begins to read, but puts the book aside to play a video game.
He repeats this pattern for the next week and a half. On October 30, he suddenly realizes his report is due! “Mom,” he cries in panic, “I’m not done with my book report! I’ve read most of it, but I haven’t gotten to the ending, and I still have to write the report! It’s due tomorrow! What am I going to do?” He’s crying remorsefully and he sincerely feels bad about the impending poor grade. Mom devises a plan. She’ll read the last two chapters of the book while Alan begins writing the summary. By the time he’s written as far as he can, she’ll have read the ending and can tell Alan what happens. Alan’s learned a lot, but not necessarily the lessons intended. He’s discovered that Mom will get him out of a jam he created for himself and that the ultimate grade counts more to Mom than how he earns it. He has notlearned taking responsibility for his grades or how to accomplish a longterm task. He doesn’t have to organize his time or stick to a project, because if he messes up, Mom will take care of it. This scenario could be much different.
At the beginning of the month, Mom could ask Alan to set up a calendar, showing what pages he’ll read by what dates, leaving time for the actual report before the due date. If Alan is on schedule, she can build his self-praising skills by noting, “It looks like you’re sticking to your plan. How’s that feel?” If Alan goofs off for two weeks, Mom can ask.(read the full article at the link below).
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