This year we are continuing our focus on two pillars of character: Respect & Responsibility. It takes years of practice and patience to help children learn and apply these character traits. It doesn’t just happen over night. It takes a lot of guidance, practice, and most of all...patience.
There are many ways parents can help build responsibility with students.
Lunches: Have your child make their own lunch for school. This is one of the easiest ways to start building responsibility. Give them a few choices for their lunch and help them assemble it the night before school. This can start in kindergarten. Yes they may have trouble making a sandwich, cutting apples, or putting together their constructible food items but they can certainly help you with getting the fixings out and putting them in Tupperware or a baggie. Have them become part of the process early on and you will find that after a short time they will be able to do it themselves. Their sandwich may not look the best, but they will be proud that they made it themselves.
School clothes: To avoid the morning madness with what to wear, have children pick out their clothes the night before school. They may need some guidance with the right clothes, but let them choose and layout their clothes for school. I know what some of you are thinking, “Their clothes won’t match!!!” In the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter. In kindergarten they usually never choose clothes that go well together. They pick what they like at that moment...which will change five minutes later anyway. By the time they are in 5th grade they are usually very good at picking clothes that go well together.
Backpacks & Book bags: After doing their homework and reading, have your child put everything in their backpack and put it by the door ready to go. Check their folders to make sure all the work is included. Help them heck their backpack to make sure it’s not a receptacle for crumpled papers and moldy food items. Check to make sure they have all the books and materials they need for school and then have them put it by the door. This will help them stay organized and it will help to eliminate the last minute “I can’t find my homework!” meltdowns as you are getting ready to leave for school.
Teaching children about responsibility takes years of work and practice. They will stumble at times, but it is worth the effort and energy to help them succeed. Start small and build on little successes now. The longer you wait, the harder it gets to train and build responsibility. Eventually they will start to take on more responsibilities for themselves and need less guidance and monitoring. Start today!