The important thing is not so much that every child should be taught, as that every child should be given the wish to learn. ~John Lubbock
On the way home from school last week, my younger son said: “You should be a teacher, Mom, you’d be a great one.”
I found his comment interesting and I wondered what he was getting at; we hadn’t been discussing careers or school. My curiosity was piqued, so I asked why he felt that way.
My son simply said “Because you are a good teacher to me. You’ve helped me learn.”
His statement touched me deeply and made me smile
Last year was my son’s first year of middle school and it was a less than stellar year. The school was large and learning how to organize his notes, books, and homework across seven classes and six different teachers were overwhelming for him.
This year, my son dreaded 7th grade; he feared (as did I) a repeat of the previous year. Before the start of school, we talked about the kind of year he wanted and what I could do to support him. He wanted to be successful and not be constantly measured against other students. He wanted to feel good about his work.
My son and I worked together and came up with a system that would help him stay focused, on track and would reward him for his work and efforts. The system we decided to implement was based on the almighty dollar.
I never thought I would stoop to the level of paying (Yes: paying!) my child for good grades. I was never paid for my grades; it wasn’t my parent’s MO – and they didn’t need to: I was a student who was naturally motivated to complete my work on time and as directed by the teacher.
My son doesn’t like memorization or rote work; he loves to learn and prefers self-paced/creative learning. He hates being compared to and competing with other students. In order to have him become a compliant and obedient student, luring him with something he valued (money) seemed to be a viable option.
My husband rolled his eyes when we introduced the plan which consisted of me sitting down each day with my son to review his assignments on School Loop, then sit with him while he completed them. I would provide moral support, encouragement, help (only if asked) and check School Loop daily so that I knew what was due when to help him plan for upcoming assignments.
Since we’ve been sitting together each day after school, my son has learned to start assignments sooner rather than later; learned how to organize completed homework assignments by using a “Turn in” folder, and now feels a sense of accomplishment when he checks off each assignment as “complete” on his homework calendar.
On Saturdays, the two of us review his current grades in School Loop and he determines his payout: $1.00 for each “A”; $0.50 for each “B”; C is 0 and he pays me if there is a D ($1.00) or F ($5.00).
We are three weeks into school and it’s cost me $21.00 (though he hasn’t collected last week’s $7.00).
His assignments have been completed on his own and turned in on time. He takes the initiative to start homework after school. It’s a much better year academically and socially and his confidence is booming.
When I think about his earlier comment, I realize he’s not referring to my teaching him about academic subjects but rather how to be a better student.
He’s also taught me that he is a student who does not thrive in a competitive environment but rather flourishes in a collaborative setting.
And the bonus: We’re both learning about the importance of self-worth. Priceless.