My 7 soon to be 8 year old is secretly a teenager in disguise. No, I'm not talking about the vast amounts of food that I am secretly happy that he consumes, of the fact that his feet smell to the point that his shoes stay outside, or even his penchant for potty humor (I share it.)
Nope. He is as lazy as any of my current 2nd semester seniors who believes that "good enough" is just fine. I am totally ok that if he puts for effort and thought into his work and the end result is messy handwriting, cramped lettering, and shorter than an average 2nd grader sentences. But, Ben will outright say, "that's all I'm going to do," or play the "the teacher said it was extra work we didn't have to do it" time after time.
I told him a couple of nights ago, I bet she wrote out two pages of math problems just for kicks and then said do them if you want." While overall he has had a good year with some yellow days with a single number of red days, but I also know he has to be reprimanded daily for listening instead of talking. Man, he is just like his mother!
I've always been a B/C student who worked my butt off to overcompensate to make good grades and stay with my friends in honors classes. I do admit I have done my time in detention, but usually for being late or being a sidekick in laughing and joking in class. When it came to work I would have never told my parents, "that's all I'm going to do." Frankly I would have not said about 90% of what students say today to me or tell their parents as evidence of the emails I get and thought my parents would have been ok with it!
Ben only earns screen time if all work is complete and I have signed off after reviewing with him. Around Christmas he began to bring home work not finished in his Friday folder and I asked his teacher if I could have him redo the work over the weekend before he did basically anything else he wanted to on the weekends. Since grading is different on the elementary level, I asked that if there as a late penalty that she please assess it, but if the only punishment is missing out on fun, then that was punishment enough.
I wanted Ben to learn the lesson that if you misuse your time, there is a consequence. The weekends Ben has "forgotten" the Friday folder at school, he got zero tv or DS all weekend as punishment. I make Ben write a note to his teacher with a list of the work he is turning in with the line, "thank you for letting me turn in my work a second time" I appreciate the time I know she does not have to take any work a 2nd time to be returned graded. We've talked about what a "2nd chance is" and how there are times we get a 2nd chance, but many times we only get one chance to get it right.
I also had him retype an assignment as his written version was so unreadable that another attempt would likely have just lead to more frustration for all parties. He loves to type on the computer so had him use word processing and showed him how to use some of the formatting tools and spell check. Man, did I ever tell him that spellcheck is the best.thing.ever.
I'm all for him being an average student if that is the best he can do, but I am not ok in any way for him thinking that "good enough" is the answer when it comes to school work. This is more than a "I can't focus" issue for him, as his teacher and I agree he can do the work especially when we break larger tasks down with a list to prioritize.
Instead of getting mad at him we go over when we are going to finish up work and I let him know that I will sit with him for as long as he is willing to work. Normally, I'm grading papers of my own so it is a good mirror that I have to finish my own work before I do anything "fun." Can you say that cleaning up the kitchen and making lunches is "fun?"
Ben told me after I wrote another whole page of new problems to complete after he missed all but one problem, "I bet you are the meanest teacher ever and your students hate you." My answer, "yep, I bet some of them do, but many of my students want to go to college and have a good job so they have to make a choice to do the work or have a consequence."
As Ben told me recently that biggest reason that he wants to go to college is that you don't live with your parents, I told him that if he did his work, he would get his dream.
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