Monday, October 11, 2010

Dirty Little Secret

Pin It We have a dirty little secret.

Okay, I'm willing to admit that perhaps it's just my kids. I suspect that this is not the case though. We keep coming against an issue and I'm not quite sure how to handle it.

The issue?

I read about hard-working, diligent, willing to put their effort into anything homeschoolers.

Mine are not like that, and many others I know are not also. (Sorry if I offend any of my local friends! I promise I'm not calling your kids lazy! I'm not even calling my own lazy. ah ... just keep reading.)

I teach a 6/7/8 grade class in our homeschool co-op, and see some of the same attitudes in most of them that I see in my own children. It's not exactly laziness, it's more of a "what's the minimum I can get by with" attitude. Maybe that's all kids; my field of experience is pretty small here. It frustrates me though! Example: I tell them to write a paragraph on a concept. They ask "how long does it have to be?" I say five to eight sentences, enough to get the point across. "Well, what if I can answer that in three sentences?" It's not let's make a deal, people!

Today I watched my daughter face a tough concept. It was something that would be difficult for her. Rather than put her heart into it and try, she flopped around, made excuses, and didn't even make an effort. I guess she figured that trying and possibly failing was worse than not trying at all.


I do not want my kids to have this outlook on life! Many times now we've had writing projects. I listen to their plans and think "Awesome! They're putting effort into this and it's going to be a great paper!" And then it's time to actually write the paper and they give me four lines. When I ask what happened to the rest of the story, I get "well, it would have taken a long time to write all that, so I changed it." Um, whaaaaat?

I know everybody wants to take the easy way out whenever possible. I certainly do. I choose frozen pie crust over making it myself all the time. I get that. This is feeling like more than that to me though, like a pervasive minimal attitude, combined with much complaint if more is required of them.

I wonder if I've made school too easy. Or, if maybe my standards have been low and that I've somewhat encouraged a minimal attitude. Or maybe the opposite -are my standards too high? Am I asking too much? I *really* don't expect perfection from my kids. (Myself? yes. Kids? no.) I know that kids are kids, and I don't expect high school level work for a fourth grade level kid, or a seventh grade level kid for that matter. I really just want to see that they are not afraid to work hard, put effort into things. I'm not just talking about schoolwork here. I'm talking about anything that requires effort.

And please don't think I'm just running down my kids. I love my kids and I am very proud of them. I just want to prepare them for a life that isn't so compatible with "what's the minimum I can get by with?" Does that even make sense?

So, I'm seriously asking. How do you motivate your kids to do their best work? How do you teach them diligence and being willing to work hard, even at things at which they might fail?


Micah said...

Jadene just shared a great devotional about this very thing last night at AWANAS. It was a good reminder even to me to do things as we are doing then unto the Lord.

Annette said...

It doesn't get any better when they are older. James goes to school,works, and volunteers. He pays his own school, fuel, and insurance with just the occassional assistance needed. Yet I see him waiting to the last minute to do everything and with the same minimalist attitude you described. It bothers me beyond end. We had a knock down dragout with this very subject today. I see Andrew trying the "lets make a deal" move everyday with schoolwork. Would they bargain with a public school teacher? Do we make it too easy for them or is it too hard? Let me know when you figure it out and we can market it and make a fortune. P.S. I see some of the same attributes in the 2 public schooled kids I have as well. Maybe it is THEM!!!

Amy said...

What a great post! I find the same thing with my kids. If anyone has any great motivation ideas I'm all ears. I also had to LOL when I clicked on your post because I just finished writing one (on a completely different topic) with the same title. :)

Sherry @ Lamp Unto My Feet said...

Thank you for sharing! I have some of this here as well, so I'd love to hear what the answers are. :)

Yvette said...

Ya know.. I think you have our house bugged or something.. cause this has been my continual complaint here lately too. And the questions you raise? Are we too easy on them? How do we motivate them? I would love to know. How much do I push? Anyway, when you get the answers..let me know, I'll pay big bucks!!! :)

Erika said...

My kids are younger, but I already see this with my oldest (2nd grade.) I think all we can do as parents is do the best job we can, be a good example, and I think this is one of those lessons that many people don't learn until they are adults. I remember trying to do the 'minimal'[ for school often when I was homeschooled in high school & it frustrating my mom. I didn't really get "it" until I was married with my own kids.
Thanks for sharing something we all struggle with.

Also, I have a blog aware for you!
Have a wonderful day!

Organizer of Hysteria said...

Oh man!!! My kids, especially my oldest is JUST like this. I wish I had the answer, but it baffles me just as often. I really don't expect a lot of "real" work out of them...yet, that is. The oldest is only 8 so I figure they don't need to be writing essays or anything, but like you said....a paragraph, is that seriously asking too much?! I do know that this journey called homeschooling has borne fruit in so many other areas of my kids' lives that I'm willing to put up with that reluctance...for now. :-)

Great blog!! Found you from the Friday Blog Hop - looking forward to more!!


melanie said...

Giggling at your comments! I'm glad to know that I'm not alone, but I really wish that one of y'all had the solution! haha!!

meltedlikewaxps97_5 said... solution from me either... just an AMEN. When I start the day ...I get..."what's on my list?" This is not so the child can just jump right in and excel at the given subject. No. It's so the child can calculate the time will take to complete the task and get on with livin' life.... which for them means anything other than school.

I was SOOO much that way, too. I was a C kid. I could have made much better grades had I been better motivated. Maybe that's the answer.... to find the proper motivation. Again-Sorry. I don't know what that would be though. :P

It sounds like MOST kids are that way. I didn't realize so many others were feeling the way I have felt for years.