Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lazy Kids

I’m actually not frustrated with any kids right now or in the middle of a rant, so I think this might be a good time to reflect on Lazy Kids (LK).

LKs are very frustrating for a teacher. First, you need to keep in mind that teachers are expected to have some sort of success rate, and this could become worse under the new President’s regime. It is dangerous to put teachers in this situations because one of the results is “dumbed-down” lessons, lessons designed to help students pass the class with ease. While I think it is important that truly bad teachers are removed from the school systems, sometimes we need to really look at who is at fault for a student’s poor grades.

I may step on some toes here, but I believe that the majority of student problems go right back to the parents. I am not talking about students who try but have difficulties in certain subject areas. No, I’m talking about LKs and other problem students, but for the purpose of this post, let’s focus on LKs.

Lazy kids are a product of lazy parenting in my opinion. (yes, I know I don’t have kids of my own, but I do see over 100 kids walk through my door every school year.)

Here are two of the major parenting problems I have seen that lead to LKs.
Indulgent parenting – these parents usually let their kids have whatever they want. Sometimes that comes in the form of things, but more often it has more to do with indulging a kid’s behavior. I know of multiple parents that come in and blame the teacher, the administration and other kids for their own student’s bad choices. What are you teaching your child if you do this? I am reminded of a recent case, in the news, where cheerleaders were thrown off the cheerleading squad for texting pics of themselves in compromising situations, yet the parents sued the school for punishing their kids. Seriously! My father always told me that if I got in trouble at school, I was getting it twice as bad when I got home…needless to say, I behaved.
Absent parents - These are parents who don’t seem to take an active roll in their child’s education. If your child comes home with poor grades, you need to be calling the school and finding out why. If you get a call or a note from a teacher that says your child is not doing the work in the class, sleeping in class, or any other number of LK behaviors, you need to act fast.

Kids need to be held responsible for their actions. If you have a ten-year-old who’s teachers say they are lazy, it is your job to do something about it. You should be the motivator in your child’s life, not the teacher.

If you have a 10-year-old that is lazy and doesn’t work very hard in school, then you will have a 16-year-old that fails (or almost fails) most of their classes. UNLESS…YOU DO SOMETHING! Take everything away. There should be no privileges until they get their grades up, start doing the work and paying attention in school. Kids don’t have to have a cell phone, we didn’t and our parents managed just fine. Kids don’t have to have a car. It may be more convenient for you if they have one, but they don’t need it. Jobs are a privilege so kids can have spending money, and they take time away from studying. If your kid is having trouble juggling everything in their schedule, then the job has to go (then there’s really no need for a car). And…unless your kid is going to get a scholarship for their extra-curricular activities, they can go too (hence the extra part). By the way…if their grades are bad, it doesn’t matter how good they are on the football field; even if they make it to college, they probably won’t last. Sorry, but that’s the truth.

Schoolwork has to come first. Everything else is second.

Also, don’t assume all of your kids can be raised the same and turn out the same. I have a friend who is a teacher as well as a parent of a LK, yet has other kids who are top of their class. The parents assume that they raised the kids the same, so the LK must not be their fault. Yes…it is. The “good” kids just don’t have the same tendency to test boundaries. Dig a little deeper and you find that the LK’s “punishments” never really last. The LK gets kicked out of the house (he’s 18 and let me tell you, he deserves it), he comes back within a week, and every time the parents say that this time it will be different. You have to follow through with your punishments or they mean nothing.

And back the teachers up. Don’t agree with your kids or try to make them feel better by telling them that they don’t need algebra in the real world (I know you don’t, but don’t tell them that). Don’t tell them that you know Shakespeare’s difficult, so you don’t expect them to do well. I hate that. I have parents that I am sure tell their kids something very close to that, but they are just giving their kids permission to fail. If my students’ parents ever came and asked me, I would gladly tell them that I thoroughly explain the entire plot of Macbeth as we go. I also give the kids the questions and answers to the test during the review the day before. They don’t even need to understand Shakespeare to do well. Seriously…it’s not hard. Maybe you should check in with the teachers every now and then just to see what’s going on in your child’s classroom.

Like I said earlier, I’m sure I’ve stepped on a few toes. However, it is the parent’s job to prepare their students for everything the teacher is trying to teach them. Teachers cannot do their job, if the parents won’t do theirs.

Let me know what you think. Do you know any LKs or Lazy Parents?


Holly said...

I have a Lazy Kid myself, but trust me, I am NOT a Lazy Parent. It's been a constant battle to keep her on track. Just last week I met with her teachers (for the 3rd time this trimester alone) to discuss options for motivating her. It's hard to keep one step ahead of her, but I'm doing my best.

As of right now she's grounded from life. There is no indulgence on my part with her. (or with my son, but he's not

I have to agree with you here that Lazy Parents are the worst. It frustrates me to no end when I see parents and children acting the way they do. I just had a discussion about this very thing with my MIL. I'm very hard on my children, and very strict, but that's because I want them to grow up to be functioning, productive members of society. What are you teaching your children when you hand them everything and bail them out of every situation?

One of my girlfriends is a Lazy Parent and her daughter is an absolute nightmare (and she's only 7). It drives me insane the way she constantly brushes off her daughter's bad behavior and excuses her bad parenting. What kind of life is that kid going to have as an adult?

It's very frustrating.

Smalltown Girl said...

@Holly - Good for you. There are always those few kids out there who are resiliently lazy, even with motivation.

My only experience on the parenting front comes from how I was raised. If my teachers had sent home a note saying I was lazy I would have been in major hot water at home. I would have been allowed to go to school (which, by the way, would have been the only fun I was having), I would have done 3 hours of chores a day (I lived on a farm and always did 3 hours of chores a day) and I would have done my homework. Period. No TV and no books (yep, Dad used to take my books away when I was in trouble because I read more than anything else). Of course, we didn't have a Wii or Nintendo either, so that pretty much meant it would be time to go to bed. I guess that's how I see strict. Sometimes it might be harder when you don't have lots of farm chores to load on a kid...(he-he)

All I want as a teacher is for parents to TRY. And it seems like that is what you are doing. Try everything when it comes to motivation... you never know what might work!