Do you remember ever having the experience of being asked for directions as a kid and having no idea, but then after you got your driver’s license you knew your way around? The difference was that you didn’t have to know for yourself until you were responsible for knowing it for yourself.
When you are helping your child with their work, try to remember that principle. If they are independent readers, have them try before you even look at anything. Have them try to figure it out on their own. It’s my policy to not step in until they’ve tried on their own first.
If they need help figuring it out, talk through what they need to do, but then let them do it. If they need redirecting, go ahead and point out what they need to be doing for the first one. Look ahead and see where they will need to do something different and maybe circle the first one that might be different to alert them. But then walk away. They need to figure it out for themselves. Just because they can do it with you talking them through the steps, doesn’t mean they are learning the steps they need to do.
You can ask your child to check their first answer, or to come to you to check, so they can make sure they are on the right track. If they got it wrong, see if they can figure out where they messed up. You should have them redo it to make sure they get it right. You can ask questions to guide them along, but don’t just tell them what to write. Then let them try on their own again. Then check again, and so on, until they are completing them correctly independently. They need to do it on their own to be able to do it on their own. If they keep coming for help, you can start a policy of having to do four on their own before they can be done, and you can just make up more for them to do, so they can’t get away with just always asking for help.
I have a child with special needs, and he’s used to having someone sit next to him for when he needs help. I have to distract myself and even walk away to leave him to try things on his own. Otherwise, it’s too easy for him to ask for help if I’m right there or for me to jump in too quickly. It’s an important skill to figure things out for yourself.
I can see in my adult son how helpful it was to him that I couldn’t help him with his computer design work he does. He would come to me with a problem, and I had no clue, and I would always just send him back with, “I’m sure you’ll figure it out.” He perseveres and figures it out. Now he has companies contacting him regularly because he’s someone who figured out what others haven’t. This isn’t just about borrowing in subtraction or changing the Y to an I. This is a life skill. It’s problem solving and perseverance, and they will serve your children well for the rest of their lives.
I needed those words of wisdom. I appreciate your taking the time to share what I always seem to need to hear.
Thanks for the encouraging note.
This is great instruction. We all need reminders. Especially at the end of the year when you may be a little tired. But I definitely agree!
Thank you! This was On-Time!
Thanks for the note. I questioned for a moment the timing being at the end of the year, but it’s not for me to know the best timing 🙂
Thank you! This is just what I needed to hear today.
Thank you! This is a big struggle for me with 5 kids and the age gap. I need my oldest (soon to be 6th grader) to act like a 6th grader in independence but I struggle when I just worked with a very hands on pre-k & k 20 minutes prior. It’s hard to switch gears but I reflect on how much more independent I was by 6th grade and know I have lots of work to do with mine. You gave great words and I’m taking it as a much needed challenge.
Thank you so m7ch for this