Dear LA Teacher,
My son, a fourth grader at Lanai Elementary School in Encino, gets homework every night. His first progress report shows assignments not completed or riddled with errors. I want my son to be accountable for his work, but I don’t think it’s my role to be his taskmaster. What’s a parent to do?
Dear Confused Parent,
If your child was in college, I’d agree—he should be accountable for his own work. But your kid is only nine-years old and learning what accountability is all about. So here is what you need to do.
When your child has a writing assignment, read through it when it’s completed. Edit the composition showing your son his grammatical, spelling, and structural problems. Then have him re-write the essay in his best handwriting. Never accept sloppy work. Remember, it’s your job to teach him to be proud of himself and to only turn in his best work.
If the assignment is math, correct each problem. The ones that are wrong erase. Then have your son re-do the problems. If he still gets it wrong teach him how to do the assignment. You should be checking 100% of your child’s work. In time, when you see he’s completing all assignments, you can ease off and correct 75% of the work, and so on.
Parents who take an active role in their children’s education are showing their youngsters that school is important. Results of all this work are gleaned on graduation day.
Here’s my success story. Years ago, when my daughter, Channie, was in fourth grade she started slacking off, and her grades showed it. I told her I’d be checking all of her work, and pointed out school was her full time job. She said, “But when you go to work you come home with a paycheck. I get nothing.”
So I made a deal with her. I said, “For every ‘A’ you get on your report card, you get $4.00 because you’re in the fourth grade. A ‘B’ earns you $2, and a ‘C’ nothing. ‘D’s and ‘F’s mean you’ll owe me money.”
“And if I get straight ‘A’s? “ she asked.
“A $100 bonus,” I said thinking she couldn’t do it.
All of a sudden the slacker turned into an ‘A’ student emptying my wallet every report card period. It was the best money I ever spent. Today Channie has a master’s degree in psychology and is a fantastic mother to her daughter, Arielle.
Remember, parenting is not like watching a football game. It’s a participatory sport and you’re in the game for a lifetime.
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