May 19, 2012 James Wilcox
Musings of a Kansas City Dad &Teacher
Learning Through Struggle.
This past school year has been a struggle for my oldest son in many ways. It has been a struggle because he has been so busy. Between soccer, basketball, volleyball and Scouts, he has run himself pretty ragged this year. It has also been a struggle keeping up with the fifth-grade homework, which easily averages two hours a night (which is still way too much for ten and eleven year-olds in my opinion). He also struggled wrapping his brain around certain topics and certain subjects in school (fractions are just giving him fits). His self-confidence has taken a hit because of these struggles.
Like every parent, it pains me to watch my children struggle. My first reaction is to just jump in and help, to ease the burden, and “make everything all right”. I also know that this isn’t the best way to help. My son is eleven and is old enough to start learning how to deal with struggles on his own. Of course, the daddy in me wants to protect him from disappointment, but I have to let him learn how to be successful, how to be independent, and how to think on his own. This won’t happen without struggle.
This process is frustrating, for both me, and my son. My son doesn’t necessarily want to learn “life lessons” right now and would rather I just tell him what to say for his essay, or walk him through his math problems step-by-step. It is frustrating for me because it hurts watching him put so much time and effort into projects, essays, and math equations that I know I can help him with. I have tried very hard to take a backseat and let him “learn”, but it is hard when that “learning” doesn’t come easily. Although I still help him with his homework, when he asks, I try to let him figure it out on his own.
I know I would be doing my own son a disservice if I just take charge of his homework. I would be doing him a disservice if I guided him through every project and every problem. I would be doing him a disservice if I didn’t let him struggle. Although I know this intellectually, it doesn’t make it any easier.