Teaching Responsibility and Preparedness

When I was in second grade, my mother became a Girl Scout leader.  It was my first year in Girl Scouts and yes, my mother was my leader.  The meetings were held in our playroom/basement.  Each week we had to bring in our dime for dues.  Yup, only 10 cents!  One day, I walked down the stairs from our living room to the meeting.   It was important to remember to bring the dues because a Scout earned an award for remembering her dues.  About 10 minutes into the meeting it was time to collect the dues.  All of a sudden, I realized I didn't have my dues.  I told my mother that I was going back upstairs to get it.  "Oh no!" she said.  "Once a Scout gets to the meeting she can't go 'home'."  Even though my home was upstairs, my mother treated me like all the rest of the scouts who certainly couldn't go home if they had forgotten something.  At the time, I remember I was miserable and very angry at my mother.  Many times since then, I have thought of that moment as a defining experience in my life.  It is never too early to teach a child responsibility and preparedness. 

In the last week, I have gotten many requests to help students prepare their summer assignments for school.  Mind you, most of them have had these assignments since school ended in mid June and it is now September.  In some cases they even waited until the night before school started to work on them.   These requests sometimes make me  feel like a lifeguard.  I so much want to help a student who feels like they are drowning in homework even before the school year begins.

Today, I realized that by not helping them, I might be doing them a favor.  Like my mother, who taught a 7 year old that being prepared was her own responsibility, I might just be helping these students to learn not to wait until the last minute. 

I will do my part though.  I have created a new file in my contacts.  It is a file of those folks who contact me each summer to help with their summer math/reading packets.  Next year on July 25th I will be sending out a mass email reminding them to check their assignments and schedule their tutoring sessions throughout the month of August; the earlier the better.

Responsibility is one of those character traits that is difficult to develop unless it is practiced.  For those parents of students in this situation, don't continue to enable your children to forget their homework by coming to their rescue at the last minute.  Let them learn by failure if necessary.  Otherwise, when they are 45 years old, you might get a call on April 16 asking you to write them an excuse for not having filed their taxes. 

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