Independence, part 2
As a homeschooling parent, I often do not accept failure to complete an assignment, nor do I accept lower than an 80% on graded assignments. If my child doesn’t finish, we continue until it is done. If my child doesn’t make the 80% I require, then we redo the lesson and the graded part of the assignment. I know that many homeschool parents follow this same sort of guideline for the quality of their student’s work. And until this year, it was probably a great way to run school, allowing each child the time they needed to learn and excel. But among the flaws in this system are a) the child has no responsibility for completion of the assignment, b)there is no reason to learn time management, and c) there are no consequences to for the student’s actions, or lack there of. This is a learning and growing time for me, too. I have to learn to let go, I have to micro-manage less. I have to allow my child to spread her wings, and hit the ground if she doesn’t get those wings open fast enough. The distance to the proverbial ground is shorter for a fifth grader than it will be for a tenth grader, or a twenty-one year old. As painful as it is for me to see her fail at something, it would be more painful to never see her truly succeed. To succeed, she must learn to be independent.
The road to greater independence for your fifth grader is paved with many lessons along the way. She needs to participate in chores around the house, she needs to be aware of nutrition and how to prepare at least snacks for herself, if not simple meals. She needs to be responsible to monitor and regulate not only her television time, but internet surfing. Some psychologist label the late elementary school years and middle school as the time of gaining competencies. It can be a difficult time for parents and students. As I go through this time with my own daughter, I remember one of the most important lessons my mother taught me. When I was getting ready to move out of her house for the first time, I was worried to bring it up to her, worried that I would hurt her, or disappoint her. The day I told her I was moving into an apartment she said, “All these years, I have given you responsibility, I have encouraged you to be independent. I didn’t raise you up to keep you, I raised you up to let you go.” That is an important lesson to remember.