More important than getting the right backpack, planner or supplies for this school year is giving as much responsibility as possible to your children for schoolwork and school related tasks. Doesn’t it sound ridiculous for parents to be dragging teens out of their beds so they will get to school on time? And what about taking lunch to school for a fifth grader who left it at home for the seventh time or nagging an eighth grader to start her homework?

School is ultimately your children’s responsibility. Parents should not make it theirs. If they do, they are taking away the opportunity for children to learn to meet their obligations. This is an important part of their achieving success in school and later on in life.

Recently, we were listening to a talk show that was asking callers for their opinions on a sign a local school had in the office saying that “no lunches, money, homework, or other items would be delivered to students in their classrooms.” Surprisingly, a number of callers thought this was patently unfair and were more than willing to take these items to school. And some even said that they made trips frequently to take forgotten items to school. We ask: When will these children learn to take responsibility for themselves? How they will handle college or a job? Are these parents really helping their children?

Just imagine how carefree your life as a parent will be, the more responsibility your children have for their schoolwork and school-related tasks. Also, think of how capable they will feel and how their self-esteem will build and build.

Obviously, more is involved than just giving your children responsibility. A first grader will need to be shown the best way to get assignments to and from school.  The fifth grader may need help in developing a system to get lunches and gym clothes to school. And the teen who won’t suddenly hop up when the alarm goes off may need a piercing alarm set away from his bed. Plus, parents need to be wise and hand off responsibilities that are appropriate for their children’s ages. For example, a seventh grader should be able to handle almost all homework responsibilities.

Amazingly, teaching your child to handle these school responsibilities may be a whole lot easier than you think. Just start when they are young. Sure you are going to have to help them learn to tackle their homework and getting what is needed for school in their backpacks. But at the same time, if you praise them for any responsibilities, large or small, that they take, they will gain ownership of these responsibilities.  And awful as this may sound to some parents, letting children suffer the consequences of failing to be responsible can definitely awaken in them  the need to be responsible.

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