Do You Check Papers?

Being a medical doctor requires honing observational skills.  I used to observe patients, but now I try to observe successful parents and teachers to see what tools I can pick up for use in my home.

She Checked Their Papers Every Day

A couple of weeks ago a well-seasoned mom with grown children shared something with me about her children’s success in school.  She raised two valedictorians and three doctors, although she and her husband attained only high school diplomas.  I thought her words were worth sharing even though the idea is so simple.  (Aren’t simple truths often the greatest truths?)

I’m not a smart woman–but I learned right away that I had to look at my kids’ school papers every day.”

She checked her children’s work every day.  She went on to say that every day the kids dug through their bags to show her their work.  If not, she dug through the bags.  (“And, hey, any love letters were fair game!”)  Together they assessed if the child had done their best or not or if there was just a lack of understanding.  Stupid mistakes were called out (and called just that) and real mistakes were worked through together so the child understood (and understood they were not “stupid.”)  A 65% was never criticized if the child did not understand something.  A 90% was sighed over if the child was in a hurry and missed easy questions.  Often the dad was called to the kitchen table to help sort out a math problem the mom couldn’t help with.  Although they did not “homeschool,” learning was a home endeavor.

Asking Questions

My family does homeschool, but I want to check each lesson without fail too.  And with each lesson I want to ask my children, did you do your best?  Were you in a hurry?  What do you not understand?  What can I help you with?

I’ve been asking myself, what did checking their work every day teach this woman’s children?  How did it help them succeed?  What was it?  Was it knowing the parents cared?  Was it the actual knowledge the parents were able to help with?  Was it the accountability?  Was it the caution against “stupid mistakes?”  (And if you knew the woman, you’d know it wasn’t a threatening environment or a desire for the children to be the best or outdo someone else.)

What do you think?  Do you check papers daily?  Or when your children were younger, did you check them?  If you homeschool, do you let your children check their own work or do you check it (or both)?  What do you think “checking” fostered in this woman’s children?  I’d be fascinated to hear.


P.S.:  Our newborn is a little fussy, but I’m still tracking iodine and other nutritional topics.  Your patience is appreciated until I have two hands free again to hit the keyboard!

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