Thursday, January 13, 2011

To Tread Gently?

In Theo's second-grade class, students have a list of twelve words to study for spelling each week. They also have three additional "challenge" words, which are optional for studying, but their teacher still wants them to try the challenge words on the test. Theo is pretty happy with the arrangement.

So, here we are with the first spelling list of the new year ... and those pesky three challenge words. I suggested that maybe he try practicing the spelling words this week. Crazy Mom logic says, since he'll be trying them on the test anyway, it can't hurt to study them during the week, right? However, this means EXTRA work for him - three extra words to write with each evening's variation on the homework. And I saw the heels digging in.

I was tempted to back down, and then I started thinking about this article that a friend posted about last week. And I thought, what kind of parent am I that I'm going to let him slide on writing three extra words, all because I'm worried about hurting his FEEE-LINGS?

Here's the thing with Theo: he tolerates school. He doesn't enjoy it, but he always does his best while he's there. He works hard when he has to. He is a dream on homework - I never have to remind or nag him, he always comes home, gets out his folder and works happily without prompting. I love that he's embraced his responsibilities with such ease. But to suggest doing EXTRA work? He flips out.

His best argument? "Mom. I don't HAVE to learn how to spell those words this year. I can learn them NEXT year."

I'm wondering if I should push him to take on the extra challenge, or is the easygoing approach the way to go this time? (Or am I just being a wimpy parent?) There are many (many) times that I will insist on an action or behavior, but I don't feel too strongly about this, so is it worth the fight? What do you think?


  1. Everyone has different views on how to raise their child, but what I am learning with my own daughter is that she will learn it when she is ready too. The more I try to force her to learn something, the harder she fights it. I actually just wrote a blog post about this because we are currently "teaching" my daughter to read. Fell free to stop by and check it out.

    But basically, I would think that if he doesn't have to learn them, then he doesn't need to learn them.

  2. Love this, Tina. The hands off approach totally works with my older daughter ... if I suggest that she reads a book, I get rejection and eye rolls, but I've found that if I just leave it around the house somewhere, eventually she'll pick it up and start reading!

  3. wow, that article was interesting. i have to say that i just couldn't parent like that. however, I do think that kids rise to expectations, and i have high ones. i'm sure that some parents think that I'M over the top (and some think i'm a slacker). to each his own. but i think there's middle ground there, and you've gotta find the middle ground you're comfortable with.
    also, each kid is different, so while you may have success parenting one child a certain way, it might backfire on you for the next.
    sheesh. parenting is complicated.
    luckily, my first is seriously self-motivated. so. nice.
    I say try and encourage those spelling words. maybe make some kind of deal with him - not to always use external gratification, but a reward after getting however many extra words right on tests? good luck.