Each January, I announce to my children that we are having a meeting. All four of them file into the dining room and slink into a chair, some eyes are rolling, some are whimpering and whining on the way to their seats, in anticipation. The oldest with his extra years of wisdom has the mentality of "let's just listen and get it over with". It is the annual event of "what needs to change because it made me crazy last year" family meeting.
This year's theme is Academic Accountability. I would love to change my children's habits of leaving dishes where they don't belong or brushing the dog more. ( I could go on and on) But you don't want to overwhelm them with too many changes, because kids are pretty set in their ways and if you try to change everything you have been doing for years, it's all going to be ineffective and you will have even more chaos in your house than you did before.Changes need to be made slowly and only a few at a time. I have learned that I tend to be overambitious in my changes, hoping that I will go from a messy house, kids screaming at each other, dog barking to my children coming home to milk and cookies and elevator music on throughout our sparkling clean house. But after 15 years of parenting, I have given up on that idea and I will almost settle for just getting my youngest son to stop peeing on the toilet seat despite the fact that I have told him 4 million times how to avoid this. I would indeed be thrilled with that change!
This year's major parenting resolution for me is to better help my children achieve the best grades they can. When I say that, I am not holding them to getting straight A's, which I know each of them can do, but I am for the most part asking for A's and B's. This past fall, I had 3 of my children begin a very big school transition, one went into first grade, one went into middle school, and my oldest began his first year in high school. Each of them ending up with report cards that could have been a whole lot better, and were much worse than the year before, which I anticipated slightly with the big change of a new school and a new system. This is not to say that I have not already been checking their grades and monitoring their school and homework, but I need to do a better job at it and stop allowing them to skate by in some ways.
I am lucky enough to be a stay at home mother who can devote the time needed to this, because this is not as easy as some may think. Between my 4 kids, they have 16 teachers. Each teacher has their own website, or blog or something they want me to check, usually daily or weekly. I also have one child with ADHD so a structured plan is helpful for him. A great tool my school district provides is a website that my middle school and high school students are able to check on their assignments and grades. This enables me to monitor their weekly progress, test scores, missing assignments, due dates, upcoming tests etc. This is an invaluable tool that I need to utilize more for their best interest. I noticed that my children's major problem was missing assignments. My children are very smart, my two oldest are each taking one honors course this year, but they fail to understand the consequences of not turning in an assignment in and what it can do to their grades. They often say things like "it's just 10 points". Yet at the end of the grading period they have missed 7 assignments for 10 points, they are now down 70 points. One of my children does extremely well on tests, but fails to turn in notes or writing assignments. I explained to him that he got a 90 percent on a test that he worked hard on, but wasted it basically because he was missing a 100 point essay!
Therefore, I vow to be more effective in my parenting methods as far as being their academic supporter and advocate for the year. I will do a better job of making sure everyone sits down to do their homework after school and not putting it off until "later" or after dinner because in my house this is code for "it's never going to happen". I will implement a new system in my house that makes them understand that their education and schooling is our number one priority. Which means that if they show a missing assignment on the website, they have no privileges until it is turned in. No video or computer games, no cell phones or texting friends, no free time on weekends until it is completed and I have seen it. I will no longer fall for the line, "yeah I did it, I'll turn it in next week". My children already are not allowed to play video or computer games on school nights because they need to focus on their homework and cleaning up after themselves and taking care of their pet. When video games are allowed on school nights, there is always fighting and crying to share games in a short amount of time and they rush through homework I have found. So when the weekend comes they are starved for screen time, so weekend game time is pretty important to them. We are a family who loves our games so I think this will work as long as my husband and I keep it up. I will also be making sure that each and every one of my kids reads every school night before bed for at least 20 minutes up to 30 minutes for the older ones. Even though I model this behavior by reading several books a week and my kids are all exceptional readers, I don't think they read often enough anymore now that they are older.
Our Parenting Resolution for 2020 is " Academic Accountability".
1. No missing assignments or homework not turned in on time or no privileges until it is completed & turned in!
2. They must study for all upcoming tests. (Even if they know everything already, which is what they will say)
3. Everyone must read Monday-Thursday Nights for 20-30 minutes before they go to bed and keep track with a reading log. (Which are needed for school for almost all kids)
4. They are to do their very best work, no more sloppy writing to finish quickly.
5. They are to be responsible for their work, keeping track of their books, backpacks, library books, checking assignments, knowing when their homework is due and bringing home the required items needed to do their homework or projects. If not they will have one weekend day of privileges and screen time taken away.
It is my parenting resolution but also a resolution for each child as well. It is showing them that they need to be accountable for their education. It will teach them that missing assignments are unacceptable even one time. It is hard enough to get an A turning in all your assignments, because no one is perfect. I hope they learn that they need to be accountable for their stuff and their lives and responsibilities and that they can count on me to support them and guide them, but I won't be enabling them and doing things for them or making excuses for them why they didn't have time to get things done on time. I will make their education my number one priority in hopes that they follow my lead and make it their number one priority for the rest of their school years. When they go on to college, these habits will be beneficial to their academic success and survival. When they have careers they will understand that not completing all your work or slacking off is unacceptable and it negates any hard work you did on other tasks. You need to be consistent in your work or whatever you do in life because you are just making things harder on yourself by selling yourself short. I encourage my children to not only learn as much as they can in school, but to dream big and be something in this life that will help others or change the world. I hope that one day my hard work and sacrifices pay off for them which will be a reward beyond measure and that I will eventually have a clean toilet seat!