Thank you for your questions! If you have a question for Whatcha Got Wednesday, e-mail it to Stacey at email@example.com.
Q: Should I reward my children for good grades? (Some parents give dollar amounts for every A and B, and others take their children shopping and buy them gifts for good grades.) On the other hand, should children be punished for making bad grades?
A: I totally disagree with monetary assignments for grades; it just gets absurd, and as your child gets older, the content gets more challenging, so then how would you measure "effort" over grades . . . ya see? I have always done what my parents did with my brother and I: of course, in both cases, conduct grades were and are looked at before ANY academic grade. My father always said, "You don't have to get all A's, but you do have to behave!" Barring no Tom-foolery, we assess the report cards and, because we know our children and aren't oblivious to whether they have put forth the effort they are capable of, we'll celebrate good grades and earnest effort with a family night out to dinner. The children take turns each nine weeks choosing the restaurant. Now, if one is totally dropping the ball, the other will get two turns in a row, etc. I never worry that I'm crushing the other's child's spirit or confidence. Rather, I focus on just the opposite. The grades are what they are, and your children know just as well as you do whether they gave it their all. I believe this method is just good ol' character building . . . and a heck of a lot cheaper!
Q: What should I do when my child gets a grade that I think is unfair?
A: First and foremost, NEVER utter those words to your child. Ask questions about a particular assignment you may question, and be sure to ask about your child's responsibilities toward the assignment. If you still have doubts, talk with the teacher privately and without your child's knowledge. The last thing you want is for your child to believe that you will defend every "unfair" grade. Having been on the receiving end of parents who do such things--trust me, teachers hate that!
Q: How involved should I be in my child's school work? I want to help, but I don't want to "cheat" or do too much.
A: Don't do anything that the child can do himself; for example, you have to drive the child to the store to gather supplies (only when the child has given you ample notice--the night before doesn't count), but don't do the project for him. When it comes to the day-to-day stuff, I say third grade is the best year to start really stepping back. At that point, your child is old enough to handle copying homework assignments and following through on completion. Call out spelling words or study questions when they come to you, but the child should be taking the lead.
If you're that Type A personality and can't stand not checking over it, then at least try NOT to correct mistakes. Teachers want to see what they are doing at home. If he is struggling in class and acing homework, it makes her job of assessing his ability a lot more difficult . . . plus, she's no fool!
Q: My child has a friend who makes better grades and is very competitive (sometimes hurtful) with my child. Should I intervene?
A: Unfortunately, there will always be that child(ren) in your child's life (regardless of whether it's grades, sports, whatever). This is just one of those times where you have to level with your child . . . this is life. As cliché as it may sound, having the talk about what "true friends" do and don't do would be relevant here. Today, though, we tend to want to call the other child's parents and have a sit down. No. Encourage your child, and cling to the Word. We are not all gifted with the same talents and abilities, and yes, your "friend" may very well be a better mathematician than you are, but you can write some beautiful poems and stories. Children know when you're giving false accolades and blowing hot air. Share your own experiences with this. They need to know that you know of what you speak--and we have all be there! Be honest, be real . . . and then encourage her to find a new friend.