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Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Space Between

I am not a helicopter parent when it comes to homework or school.

There are certain things I make abundantly clear to my children regarding schoolwork, two of which are:

If you need help, ask for it. I will help you or help you find another source of help.
There is no excuse for zeroes, ever.

Time has helped me to relax, as well as learning to de-emphasize grades and allow more of the organic process of learning (and learning from one's mistakes) to take place.

The benefit of that has been that my kids tend to be quite autonomous with their schoolwork; they feel responsible for their own work and take responsibility for their own grades, which includes pride in a job well down and ownership of sloppy work and poor effort.

I also have come to see middle school as a great opportunity for kids to make errors and learn from them with no long lasting penalty involved.

This was brought to light the other day when Trey brought home his first little term paper.

He had a list of things he was to do and the points for each section.
Overall he did fairly well but there were some areas that needed improvement, as you would expect from a first term paper. Learning is the whole point.

I was surprised, though, at one thing. He got two points off for not having double spaced.

"Trey?" I called, "come over here!"
When he came, I asked "Why didn't you double space? I thought you did. I remember you saying you were going to go back and do that!"
"But I did double space!" he protested.

We looked at his paper. It was clearly not double spaced- at least not to my eyes.

"But honey," I said gently but firmly, "this is not double spaced."
Confused, he looked at me, then reached out his finger and pointed at the space between two words.
"Yes, it is!" he insisted, "I put two spaces between each word. See?"

Bless his heart, he really did. That sweet boy used the space bar and put two spaces between each word on his little term paper. My heart grew ten sizes as I hugged him tightly.

"Yes, you did. You did and you put forth a great effort. I am proud of you for that."

Then I explained to him about double spacing, and font size.
We went over the value of having a sibling and two parents to ask when you aren't sure about something, as well as teachers to help.
We also talked about effort and what a great effort he had made in his first term paper!

He will never forget what it means to double space or use the correct font again.
I'm sure there are people who will read this and be aghast that it wasn't being checked over and corrected before he turned it in. And that's okay. We each do things in our own way. For my family, I find that the kids do much better when they are able to own their work and ask for help when needed, as opposed to having each item picked over and corrected before it makes it to school. :)


Annemarie said...

thats awesome that he put so much effort in! we homeschool one of ours and I am loving watching him learn without the hover I always felt necessary with the public kids! It's great for us!
keep up the good work!

2martins said...

Having homeschooled for years, we felt like it was really important for Mitchell to understand that it was HIS homework, so we don't check it or anything. I totally agree with you about the zeros. He doesn't need to get an A in everything, but he needs to give it a go and turn it in!!

If he can't find something he needs he asks me, but aside from that I am not involved. Tonight he's knitting a scarf prototype for his science class. Good thing his aunt taught him how to knit! There may be some kids for whom it's helpful to have their parents involved, but I do not believe it would be for my son.