Monday, April 28, 2008

Putting the HOME Back in Homework

The last school quarter we have been faced with the realization that Cinderella had not been completing her homework.
Her recent grade and progress reports SCREAM of her irresponsibility and poor choices over the past 6 months.
Yep, six months.
You heard me.
For SIX months she has been choosing not to complete class assignments, as well as skipping her private (required) violin lessons at school.
I know what you are wondering, why have you allowed this go on for so long?
I didn't.
We didn't. Because we didn't know.
At Middle School orientation, parents were advised NOT to check up on their children's homework assignments as we had been required to do in elementary school.
They need to learn responsibilitiy, they said.
It will prepare them for high school, and college, and... LIFE.
(I did not attend this orientation, BTW. But her parents did. And yes, I questioned that rationale but that's what they and now I was beng told to do. So I did it.)
And then... the report card came.
Capable of doing better work. Inconsistencey in classwork. Grades reflect a lack of homestudy.
Her teachers had a lot to say.
We questioned her as to why. And were met with the answer that EVERY parent of a middle-schooler gets: "I don't know."
Oh, how I love that answer.
For a while, I even tried it on for size.
WickedStepmom? Where are my clean clothes?
"I don't know."
Can you take me to the mall to spend my gift card?
"I don't know."
The freedom! The lack of accountability that those three little words offered was liberating! No wonder she used it. All. Of. The. Time.
Yeah, well no anymore.
Cinderella, dearie. I'll tell you what *I* know. 
You WILL go to each of your teachers and request for ALL the past due assignments.
You WILL complete these over-due assignments THIS week (even though the time for you getting any credit for them has long passed).
You WILL start writing EVERY assignment down in your assignment pad.
You WILL ask for extra credit work.
You WILL stay for any and ALL extra study sessions.
And *I* WILL be checking your assignment pad and you homework EVERY DAY.
(Oh yeah, and Drama Club is OUT for the rest of the school. You see, most of these assignments were NOT done in favor of going to, and socializing at, rehearsals even though she had every possible opportunity to complete them during the abundant downtime she had as an ensemble cast member. Final curtain call! Take your bow and get off the stage. For this year.)

Three weeks, numerous calls and emails to her teachers and guidance counselors later, her grades are all back into the 80s. 
Her guidance counselor called just prior to Spring Break to praise Cinderella's efforts and to let us know of her progress.
I was proud. Prince Charming was proud. Maleficent was proud.
Cinderella was especially proud.
With this kind of turn-around, she has the potential to finish the year strong. 

You're damn straight she will.


mathcutie said...

Wow, I'm really feeling empowered with the "I don't know". I may employ that more often.

I do agree [slightly] with the "let them stumble a bit" for growth purposes, but six months seems like an awful long time to take such a laisez-faire approach with a middle schooler. Way to go Wicked!

SherE1 said...

"I don't know" is my pet peeve answer. Although the kids know that "I don't know" will set me off, they still like to use it excessively. Good job on getting Cinderella back on track!

talia.halliday said...

You're amazing. I just stumbled across here not too long ago and I'm just finding my words (at times) in yours. Glad to hear Cinderella's grades are back in stride; we had the same issue with our Teen this year (and pretty much all through school) and it's hard work getting an apathetic pre-teen to care about . . . well, anything. Kudos to you and yours.