Getting Your Child to Take Responsibility for Learning

Getting Your Child to Take Responsibility for Learning

Helping your child understand that school is important and necessary can be a daunting task. As a parent, it’s easy to feel disappointment or frustration when your children’s performance is less than hoped for. Fortunately, you can find ways to encourage them to take responsibility for school.
young girl holding laptop illustration
Try these ideas:

  1. Know your child’s teacher. Build a positive relationship with the teacher. When your child sees that you view his school life and performance as important, so will he.
    • Staying active with your child’s teacher and classroom lends your presence to your child’s school life.
    • Plus, consistent contact with the teacher means she can provide you with advice and helpful information about how to aid your child to have a successful school year.
  2. Your child’s report card belongs to him. Ensure that your child knows this. Avoid making the mistake of becoming emotional when your child brings home grades.
    • Recognize that managing the whole report card issue is a tough issue. If you reward for good grades, then do you ignore not-so-good ones?
    • Avoid punishing for less-than-satisfactory grades.
    • Remind your child that: “Those grades belong to you. They show you and the teacher how you’re doing.” When you take this step, you’re not letting your own emotions and feelings get too tied up with the grade report. Otherwise, the child loses ownership of his own grades.
    • Help your child stay “connected” with his grades, which encourages him to take pride in them. When you practice this, he’ll want to be responsible and put forth effort into school.
  3. Consider signs of progress besides just grades. Focus on other information about how your child is doing in school.
    • Actions such as following the teacher’s instructions, relating well to other children and being respectful of others are all behaviors that matter. Let him know that you see his efforts in these areas and that they show maturity and growth on his part.
  4. Look for positives. Related to the above point, it’s helpful to shift your focus from any negatives about your child’s school performance to positives that he portrays at school.

    • Although negatives have a tendency to get your attention and trigger strong emotions, if you “catch him being good,” you’ll then have issues to address using positive feedback.
  5. Praise. When you use praise to help reinforce your child’s positive behaviors, be specific about your child’s attempts. Instead of saying, “Wow, you did great,” say, “I saw that you put a lot of time and effort into that book report, and you did a great job with it.”
    • Another example of praising effectively is, “Good for you that you took the time to look up the information you needed, wrote a thorough term paper, and turned it in on time.”
    • When you’re specific in your comments, you’re basically telling the child exactly what you’d like him to do again in the future. If you praise effectively, your child will see what he did “right” and he’ll want to do more of it in the future.
    • Some child behavioral experts even believe that if you ignore negative actions and focus mostly on positive behaviors in your comments, the negative actions will be extinguished from lack of reinforcement.
  6. Keep your own feelings under wraps when discussing school with your child. Avoid expressing or connecting your own emotions with the child’s grades or performance at school.
    • Remind yourself that these are his grades, rather than yours. Your kid’s grades reflect only information about him.
    • In other words, avoid taking the grades personally. Getting angry or disappointed about them will be ineffective in encouraging your child to take responsibility or put forth more effort.

As a parent, one of your jobs is to help your child become more interested in and involved in his education. Using the above strategies will help you encourage your child to take responsibility at school so he’ll be more successful in the years to come.

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