A funny thing happened on the way to do homework this week. What started as skepticism has brought (hopefully) enlightenment.
Monday night, I pulled out Gerrit’s homework packet and saw that along with a worksheet on the letter e, there was a lesson in ‘self-control’. The kid’s school has a different moral focus every month and this was the topic for March. I read the instructions for this lesson and frowned in confusion. Gerrit’s teacher was asking that his class go without any screen time (tv, wii, DS, iPod, computer, etc) for the entire week. Really? An entire week? That seemed excessive and impossible to accomplish. Realizing I might just be in a bad mood, I checked with Dan to see what he thought. He agreed that the method didn’t seem to match the lesson. If our purpose is to teach self control, why then would we ground him from these things? Why not let him decide a better way to learn this lesson?
The next day, I sat him down and told him what the homework assignment was and what did he think about it? His face squinched up in deep thought and he asked “the whole week? why?”. I don’t really know, dude. I asked him what self control was and he said it was stopping yourself from doing something you know you shouldn’t be doing. Great answer. I reminded him that it meant stopping yourself from doing something too much as well. Then I asked him how he thought would be a good idea to help learn that. He suggested not eating junk food all week and while that sounded good to me, I tried googling it. The first link listed was 5 ways to learn self-control… perfect. We went over the 5 steps and thought of ways for him to incorporate them into his kindergarten life.
When we were finished, I was actually excited. Not only had we come up with a plan on how to achieve this lesson, we had done it together. It was more Gerrit’s plan to become better than it was mine. Isn’t that ultimately what we as parents are trying to teach our kids? Strive to become better but under that, desire to become better. Gerrit didn’t question why he had to do the lesson of self-control or argue that he had good self-control. He simply questioned the methodology. He gladly accepted that he should do something to strengthen it and that makes me happy. This teachable moment had become less about homework and more about becoming.
Over Spring Break we’ll be working together to accomplish his 5 steps. In fact, I’ve decided that Emma & I should make a list to work on at the same time. The 3 of us taking another step towards the better we. I’m grateful that his teacher sent home this ‘outside the box’ homework assignment or I would have missed this opportunity.