Thursday, September 17, 2009

Helicopter Parenting

In 4th and 5th grade, Doodle brought home mid-term reports that showed her grades on all the assignments, tests, etc. in the quarter to date. These reports had to be signed by a parent and returned to school. Some teachers only sent them home if a student's grade was C or lower (as a warning sign; Doodle never got one of those), but other teachers sent them home for every child. This year I'm experiencing the turbo charged, souped up middle school reporting system--and I have some concerns about it.

I can go online 24-7 to check on Doodle's homework assignments as well as her grades on quizzes, tests, and other assignments. I also receive e-mail messages prompting me to check when a grade is posted. There aren't too many grades posted yet, but thus far Doodle has 100 percent in everything, mostly spelling, math, and science quizzes. I haven't logged on in a few days, so I just checked and found that there is no math homework tonight because they are doing an in-class project (maybe we'll have time to go shopping for cleats; the ones that I bought a month ago are already too small--this kid's feet never grow that fast).

Oops, that tangent was a bit too long. I don't want to be policing Doodle's schoolwork this closely, but it's hard to resist when the data is so easily available. I want Doodle to take responsibility for tracking her homework assignments and making sure they are complete. She does a good job of turning in all her assignments on time without a need for me to nag, but if she wasn't, I would rather that she suffer a few consequences at school than have me looking closely over her shoulder. I'm not going to be in the room when she's 19 and has a major term paper to complete. By middle school, I think kids should be responsible enough to do their work without hovering parents. When Doodle was younger, I would pack up her homework and special projects in her backpack, making sure everything was complete. In the past year or two, she has taken on this job. I think I'll be walking a fine line this year if I find information that concerns me in the data reporting system.

This year Doodle has begun setting her alarm clock and getting up on her own (last year I practically had to drag her out of bed). This morning the alarm didn't go off, so I was the back up (she woke up so easily that I didn't even have to sing her special wake up song). I think I'll view my schoolwork role as a back-up one. I'll be there to help get things back on track if Doodle's responsibility alarm doesn't go off. I hope I spend most of the year on the sidelines.


Donna said...

Is that what Helicopter Parenting is? Hovering over our kids? I've heard this term before but wasn't totally hip on what it meant.

My son wasn't a "self starter" so I was thrilled when we finally started getting assignment updates and test scores via the web. I don't think he would have made it into college otherwise!

I'm hoping my girls will not need us to watch over them but I'm also glad to have that option if it's necessary. Sounds like you don't need it and I can only imagine how much of a relief that is to you!

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Donna said...

We've got the same kind of system here...and I agree with you - it's a mixed blessing!