Holding Your Tweens and Teens Responsible

Homework has always been a struggle for 2/3 of my kids. We’ve tried every trick in the book to get them to understand the importance of it, we’ve delivered expectations-of-schoolworkconsequences of bad grades or missing assignments and nothing seems to get thru to them. On the other hand, the other one is the kid who can do their homework on the bus and get straight A’s. Boggles the mind.

When the oldest started middle school a few years ago, she was assigned a pretty simple homework project on the second day of school. It was to create a collage of images cut from magazines that represented who she was as a person – her likes, interests, etc. She had 5 days to do it and days 1-3 went by without her picking up a single magazine. I remember the Rooster would ask her non-stop how her project was going until I finally told him to stop.. “we can’t continue to micro-manage her schoolwork. She has to start being held accountable for her own actions or “un”actions.” She finally got the project done at the 11th hour and so began our life in middle school.

When I was in school, my parents had little involvement in my homework and test scores other than when they would ask “did you do your homework” (the answer was always yes) and unless I was really tanking my class, report card time. I knew what needed to be done and what was expected of me by my parents and my teachers. I also knew what the consequences were if I received anything less than a “C” – a speech from my father followed by being grounded (from everything) for the entire following 9 week period. Sometimes I would wait until the last-minute and hope for a hail Mary and other times I busted my tail but regardless of which course I took, the weight of it fell on my shoulders – not theirs.

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Now, as parents, we have constant access to our kids grades and test scores. Whether it’s thru a teacher’s website or a “portal” of some sort, I can know what grade my kids got on their test today and where they stand between A and F at any given moment. Last year I spent a lot of time  (read: daily) on this portal and constantly ran after the girls reciting what they would get on their report cards if it came out “today”. Then this post on the subject of failing kids was sent into Ten to Twenty and I immediately saw that I was doing more harm than good. I was telling them that they were responsible for their grades yet running behind them to check up on them.

Yesterday, one of the girls brought home a notice that since she had failed to turn in a homework assignment she was being assigned to a new program the school is offering called ASAP. (Actually it was the second notice – she had failed to give us the first one.) We had the obligatory conversation about homework being her responsibility and what our expectations were on report cards and the consequences that would happen if the expectations weren’t met. I emailed her teacher and thanked her for the note and mentioned that I had found one dated two weeks ago and asked if there was a better system to send them home so that I wouldn’t miss it again. Of course, she was right when she responded that it was the student’s responsibility and that she had neglected to give it to me. But then she asked if we were aware of and using her website to keep up with said child’s homework and class assignments and I responded that I was aware that it was there along with the other 18 teachers that are involved in the schooling of my kids.

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And that’s when my frustration kicked in….

Why is the expectation even there that I should have to visit 18 teacher sites to keep up with my kid’s homework?

I asked the question on my Facebook page and was met with some interesting responses – most of which were right in line with my thoughts that once they hit middle school and high school, it should be all on them. I even had my friends who are teachers say the same thing and yet the underlying message from our school is that I should be checking up on it. Whether it’s via parent assist, teacher websites, teacher emails or texts.

And that’s another point of pain. WHY can our school district not have one, uniform method of communication from teacher to parent/student? I’m sorry but there is just no way that I can check 18 different pages every single day even if I wanted to. I have to imagine that these avenues were put into place during the height of the Heli-Parent days so that they could constantly check the progress. I have to wonder what happened when those kids went to college?

So I’d love to hear from you on this one…  Do you monitor your kid’s progress or do you wait until progress or report cards are sent home to evaluate their progress? What are your expectations on grades? C’s or better? B’s or better? And if they don’t meet those expectations, what are the consequences of bad grades? Loss of privileges such as phone and activities? And if so, is it the entire next 9 weeks?