Teaching Children to Take Academic Responsibility

Teaching  Children to Take Academic Responsibility

Guest Post

Claire Adams is a regular contributor in the blogosphere and I have always enjoyed her writing so was delighted when she asked if she could guest post for me.  For those of you who haven't come across her before, Claire is a personal and professional development expert who believes that a positive attitude is one of the keys to success. You can find her online writing and giving tips about lifestyle and development as a regular contributor at highstylife.com.

Teaching our children the value of an inquiring mind is a cause close to my heart.  It is a stepping stone to independent learning and here Claire pursues this and shows us how we as parents can teach our children to take academic responsibility. 

From a very early age, children have a tendency to identify with some segments of their lives and to completely disregard others that they don’t find appealing, or that don’t resonate with them. Education for the large part seems to children like a forced responsibility, as if they would rarely opt for going to school in the first place if it were up to them – but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way.

It starts when you encourage them to think for themselves and question everything, not blindly accept what they’re presented with, thus helping them embrace the value of learning through thinking, as opposed to merely absorbing information. But in order to own up to their success, failures (of equal value) and choices, our role as parents can be a pivotal one.

Provide perspective early on

While they are still in primary school, children have a tendency to view everything through creativity and play – which opens up wonderful opportunities for creative thinking, problem solving and independent thought development. However, as they step into their tween and teen years, context becomes all the more relevant for them to understand why they are making an effort in the first place.

Not to impress others (us, their parents included), or to get a satisfactory number on a piece of paper, but to enrich their lives, broaden their horizons and, most importantly, equip them for their life ahead.

This is a time when their childhood dreams of becoming astronauts or vets can be brought to life with the right choices. So, talk to them, tell them your own experience, and ask them if they see value in what they are taught at school, how those skills and knowledge can help them succeed later in life.

Know when to step aside or in

Mothers know all too well, how tempting it is to bring out our Wonder Woman self and bring hell to anyone or anything who tries to harm our kids. But they often need us to do something else, they need us not to bail them out, and not to solve their problems for them. Facing responsibility, consequences as well as achievements is essential for their future choices. Ultimately, they need to learn we should all clean up our own mess.

Then again, certain warning signs may indicate that it’s time for an honest one-on-one, if you see they’re frustrated, slipping with their work, showing no sign of positive engagement, or that their behaviour has changed. Help them by teaching them to view this as an opportunity to grow, a positive challenge to learn or improve their time-management skills and overcome their limitations.

Teach them to ask for help

Teens are relentless independence-seekers, and they might find the school work difficult, but they will often avoid admitting they need help. Fostering this independence is commendable, as long as it results in them taking action and developing problem-solving and proper coping techniques, but if they are truly stuck, they need to understand the value of asking for help or guidance, whether that is from their parents or their teachers. Not everything is everyone’s strong suit.

Once they realize that temporary help is another way towards greater independence, they will be more inclined to seek help to overcome learning obstacles. They need a stimulating learning environment that cultivates critical thinking, and offers the tools to handle academic challenges properly, and we all know that’s not easy to come by.

Focus on commitment

I’ll never forget our neighbours daughter’s violin recitals and the hours she would spend playing and perfecting her skills in the days and months before the performance. She was a hard worker and a gifted child, but her stage-fright was so severe she would often freeze on stage or play poorly despite all her practice. Her mother would always praise her, not falsely for the poor performance, but for all the effort she had previously invested in her playing.

Our childrens' grades, teachers’ comments and results often won’t correspond to the amount of work they invest in their studies – they will sometimes do brilliantly well despite poor studying, but they will sometimes fail despite doing their absolute best. Commend them for their dedication, discipline and effort, not merely the end result. This way they will learn how to value their effort above other people’s judgement and they will learn not to give up at the first sign of trouble in their later academic years.

Claire Adams:

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30 Comments

  1. November 27, 2017 / 8:38 pm

    The thought of parenting teens gives me palpitations haha! I’m so glad i’ve got a good decade to go yet!
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back tomorrow!

    • November 27, 2017 / 10:58 pm

      At least you will be prepared. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. November 27, 2017 / 2:58 pm

    Such simple yet effective advice!! Picking up on little tell tale signs that they are struggling or frustrated or tired can help.nip problems in the bud so much earlier!! #tweensteensbeyond
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    • November 27, 2017 / 10:57 pm

      Oh Kelly you are so right. It is so important to be observant and intervene as soon as is necessary. x

  3. November 26, 2017 / 9:34 pm

    My children love learning so I hope they keep it up as they move through their academic life #triumphanttales

    • November 27, 2017 / 10:56 pm

      The earlier they start on the path of learning the better.

  4. November 24, 2017 / 10:39 pm

    Very good advice here – I think it is very important to help them with their intrinsic motivation as this will definitely help them as they move up the years. #ablogginggoodtime

    • November 25, 2017 / 5:10 pm

      Yes Hayley motivation is key. Nagging is all well and good but they need to want to do it for themselves and once that is cracked then responsibility comes along shortly after.

    • November 27, 2017 / 10:56 pm

      Thanks Hayley for your comment.

  5. November 24, 2017 / 6:41 pm

    Yep, I’m all for encouraging the teens and tweens to take responsibility, especially mine. I think we are in the peachy period of compliance at the moment. Well moaning and compliance. I’m so tired and compliance. Why do I have to wash and no compliance. But, something is working and it’s rare to be able to say that. The fact that it’s my kid at the moment – shock horror (yes I know I should be leaping around touching wood but I’ve already knocked one cup of tea over this evening!!) But I am taking note. Great post, thank you Jo and Claire, it’s in my file for when everything becomes my fault again. #tweensteensbeyond

    • November 25, 2017 / 5:08 pm

      Sounds like all is rosy in your tween world at the moment Nicky so clearly you have nailed it! Ride that wave for as long as you can. Thanks for your comment.

  6. November 23, 2017 / 7:42 pm

    I totally agree that we shouldn’t only be praising the result. As mum to a child with special needs I know that the process and hard work that goes into achieving any goal is massively important. Thank you for linking up to #ablogginggoodtime 🎉

    • November 23, 2017 / 10:47 pm

      Recognition of effort is the main criteria for many it seems Catie. We can only ask our children to do their very best and to do it for themselves. Thanks for your comment.

    • November 23, 2017 / 3:14 pm

      How right you are Karen! Good simple praise can make the world of difference sometimes. Thanks for your comment.

  7. November 23, 2017 / 7:44 am

    I’m a great believer on focusing on effort and not achievement. I always remember my fathers disappointment with me when I got A for effort on a school report but only C for achievement, he failed to see I’d done my very best and couldn’t have worked any harder and it really hurt me I didn’t get recognised for my efforts #tweensteensbeyond
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    • November 23, 2017 / 3:19 pm

      That is interesting Suzanne and particularly that your own experience has shaped your view. I agree with you. I have always said to my teens that if they don’t do as well as expected sometimes it is fine as long as I know that they have put the effort in and if they haven’t then I will be disappointed which has worked so far in terms of their acceptance of their responsibility for the outcome.

  8. November 23, 2017 / 12:41 am

    Lots of good advice there. I think encouraging them to take responsibility sets kids up for when they head out into the big adult world – even though it seems a long way off! #tweensteensbeyond

    • November 23, 2017 / 3:20 pm

      Absolutely Mary, I couldn’t agree with you more. Thanks for your usual wise words.

  9. November 22, 2017 / 12:59 pm

    As mum to two teenage boys this post has been really useful. I find it very difficult to get the balance right between being supportive and being a nag! I’ve backed off from my 16 year old son with regards to his A levels, I can remember rebelling a bit when I was his age and the more my parents pushed me to study, the less I did! I just ask him how it’s going and would he like any help. #triumphanttales

    • November 23, 2017 / 3:27 pm

      Collette having been there with my eldest only recently I think that it is the best approach. There comes a time when they do need to accept responsibility for their studies and I found the GCSE period was when it really kicked in for my eldest and now with my youngest at that point I can see the same thing happening with her – she just gets on with it without my intervention but like you I do stress that I am here if she needs help. I have friends who still hover over their children and know every minutiae of what they are doing but personally I just don’t think that helps them to be able to learn independently. Hope your son’s studies go well.

  10. November 22, 2017 / 12:11 pm

    Absolutely agree with this. The end result should not be what it is all about. I’m at the stage where I am battling a bit about the responsibility for academic affairs! I am in danger of turning into a nag but I feel that if I say nothing then very little work will be done and then it may be too late! It’s a balancing act as always! Great guest post! xx #TweensTeensBeyond

    • November 23, 2017 / 3:29 pm

      The world of parenting is not perfect Sharon is it and sometimes a good old nag is what is needed to get them to take note!! No shame in that at all.

  11. November 22, 2017 / 5:20 am

    In a culture like mine, there is a lot of emphasis on academics. Children must study through graduation and post graduation and from an early age we inculcate the importance of studies. The curriculum is also moving away from rote to learning. It is important for children to challenge and question what they are being taught and for us to encourage them. Wonderful pointers there.

    • November 23, 2017 / 3:33 pm

      It is interesting to hear your view Rachna and the stance on learning within your own culture. There are many in the UK who think that there is too much pressure early on for our children to study hard and it is difficult to strike the right balance. I do think that the earlier they start to learn the discipline of learning well and independently the easier it becomes as they grow up and move towards the upper school exams.

  12. November 21, 2017 / 4:06 pm

    ps I forgot to add the #TweensTeensBeyond!! 🙂

  13. November 21, 2017 / 4:05 pm

    I like this: ‘Commend them for their dedication, discipline and effort, not merely the end result.’ Thanks for sharing this thoughtful post, it is hard to know how much to step in and how much to step back but somehow we muddle our way through by trying to keep the communication as open as possible.

    • November 23, 2017 / 3:34 pm

      It is a great statement I agree with you Liberty. Effort is so often lost in the pursuit of achievement and it is good to have a reminder of its importance.

  14. November 21, 2017 / 2:32 pm

    This post comes at a really opportune time for me. We have encountered some battles with the dull, school mandated stuff (eg Spellings) that my daughter just isn’t interested in. My husband and I were just talking today about foregoing the battle with the spellings so she can see what happens when she doesn’t practice them. Our fingers are crossed that she will make the mental connection between practice and learning so next week, we don’t have the same grief. Really good post! It’s left me with a lot to think about.
    #TweensTeensBeyond
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    • November 23, 2017 / 3:38 pm

      I am glad the post has given you some food for thought Alisa. It is difficult sometimes to stand back and think what you could do differently and Claire’s expert advice is practical and achievable. I hope your strategy with your daughter works. As with many things with teens the realisation that their learning is their responsibility is a big step forward. She will get there and from my experience a few bad scores are a good wake up call! Good luck.

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