Thursday, January 13, 2011

How to motivate a second grader...?

So my son Ryan has been in second grade since August.  Yesterday I got the email every parent dreads.  Here is an excerpt:  Ryan did not finish any work today and lost two papers we have been working on since Monday.  He also didn’t bring in his planner which happens often.  I did write and staple is work on a paper and wrote his work down, should be in his backpack.  I explained that not doing it was not a choice. I realize that it will take him a while but I am concerned that his grades are barely at PP because he rarely turns in work and often I have to ask several times and/or make copies because they are lost.  I also explained that if he does not complete his homework he will not have recess and that he will need to speak to the principal about his work incompletion in class and not having the work completed at home. So I have known this was a problem since the beginning of the year but I thought it was getting better...Why did I think that? The "I don't have any homework"  started to replace the "I forgot my homework" And if there is nothing written in his homework planner, how do I know if that is true or not...So I guess I should have been more suspicious,  seeing what the teacher wrote in that email.  So since his planner was almost always in his backpack, (ever since I established the no TV until I've signed your planner rule in like October) and since I always put it back in the backpack after signing it, where was it going at school?  Maybe there is a mysterious wormhole along the school bus route-taking the planner in the morning and replacing it after school? In any case after his conversation with the teacher and knowing she sent me an email he actually did his homework voluntarily yesterday, I guess the threat of loss of recess and trip to the principals office worked!  Except he once again had no homework today.  He did have stuff written in his planner, but it was a bout some kind of testing tomorrow for reading.  Lest you think that is why no homework, you should know that they tested for math today and he had homework yesterday.  So I guess if he did have homework today, he will find out tomorrow that his teacher was serious. 

I am a big believer in Love & Logic- their homework philosophy is that homework is the child's problem, not the parents. Kids learn to do their homework by-Not doing their homework and facing consequences from that.  In other words- not threats, reminders etc. just consequences from the teacher when they don't turn it in (having to do it on recess for instance).  At the beginning of the year, when Ryan didn't do a homework assignment his teacher gave him the consequence of finishing it at recess.  Since then whenever he didn't want to do it I have said, (At least whenever I remember my Love & Logic) " No Problem, I'm sure you can do it during recess tomorrow" and for a while that motivated him.  Now I am not sure if his teacher got tired of spending her recess time watching him do homework and stopped doing so or whether he decided he didn't care, but lately we have been having trouble with this again.  So now they are working on a big biography project and the question is-Will he do it or not? 
I have informed him (in Love & Logic style I think) that they will have second grade again next year, and I will love him whatever grade he is in.  So I guess for now we will just have to wait and see.