Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Life Lessons

Live only for today, and you ruin tomorrow. — Charles Simmons

Today K learned a valuable lesson. One that will affect her life in many ways for a long time to come.

K had missed an arithmetic test that she ought to have taken during arithmetic class yesterday. In trying to figure out how she'd missed doing the test, I pulled out her arithmetic book to see what page she had done instead. She saw me pulling books out of her box and asked in a slightly panicked tone, "Are you looking for something?" I mumbled something and took the book back to my desk.

As I found the page she was supposed to have done today, I noticed she'd only done 5 problems. Then I started flipping through the rest of the book. She hadn't done *any* of the pages in a very long time.


A quick glance through her other books produced the same result. She'd do a few things here and there and skip everything else.

It had been awhile since I had done a spot-check of her work as she's always been a self-motivated perfectionist. Trust-worthy enough that I didn't even consider that she wouldn't have done her work.

But her grades have been slipping lately. Her handwriting has been sloppier. She's been making careless mistakes on her tests. All signs that she has been "missing practice".

As Mr. at Home explained, "In case you don't realize it, this is the worst trouble you have ever been in."

She decided that because I trusted her and didn't check her work daily that she could get away with not doing it. If she was done with school, she could watch TV. She could play on the computer. We could run errands or go do something fun. Just skipping one day became two became a habit.

I do take responsibility for not checking her work more often, but I'm also glad she's had this chance to fail *now*. It's much better to deal with the issue of personal responsibility when she's 8 and it's only schoolwork instead of when she's 18 or 28 or 58 and the choices she makes affects more than just an arithmetic grade.

This afternoon, Mr. at Home and I marked or tore out every page she hadn't finished in her schoolwork. Then we worked to determine what her punishment should be.

Until all the work is finished, K is allowed to do nothing besides school, eat, sleep, and church. Considering the amount of work she has, this could be awhile.

There is no softball until the work is complete (no pass, no play).

There are no movies until the work is complete (no Hannah Montana movie).

There is no TV for the rest of the school year.

There is no computer for the rest of the school year.

Every problem she works, question she answers, and word she writes will be checked and redone as necessary.

Every privilege she's been given as a result of our trust in her will be revoked until she earns them back. No playing outside alone, riding her bike around the block, staying up late reading, etc.

All this so she can learn the simple truth that bad decisions lead to unpleasant consequences.

1 comment:

jinksto said...

Wow! Great lesson. School *should* be for more than learning the three R's. Or, then, maybe the three R's should be:

and Reliability.

Great job... as you note, better to learn at 8 than 18.