A Lesson Learned





I mentioned in an earlier post that for November, Emily would be designing her own curriculum. And here is what she chose…

Monday

  • Read
  • Learn how to use Microsoft Word
  • One set of Khan Academy questions
  • Practice typing
  • Practice assigned cello lesson

Tuesday

  • Read
  • One set of Khan Academy questions
  • Practice typing
  • Learn multiplication tables
  • Harmony Project

Wednesday

  • LEARN classes
  • Read
  • Practice assigned cello lesson

Thursday

  • Read
  • One set of Khan Academy questions
  • Practice typing
  • Learn multiplication tables
  • Harmony Project

Friday

  • LEARN Science and Math
  • Read
  • One set of Khan Academy questions
  • Type a book or poem
  • Practice assigned cello lesson

I guess it had to happen sooner or later, but today I received the weekly progress report from Khan Academy and it painted a picture of a very different study schedule than what shows above. According to the daily curriculum, Emily should have done four sets of questions in total for the week.

Instead, this is what I received:

khan academy

So instead of sets of five questions, four times in the week, Em answered two questions.

Several times during the week when she seemingly finished with her studies in ten minutes or less, I questioned her. She assured me she had done everything on her checklist.

Uh-huh, sure you did.

The lesson I learned came next. And it is not what you might imagine.

The kiddo was still asleep in her room, so I headed upstairs and told my husband.

He surprised me by laughing, “Well, we have all done it at one time or another.”

Here I had been formulating a plan to catch her in the lie. I had figured I would ask her about Khan Academy and get her to lie more about what she was learning last week so that I could pounce and say, “Really? Because that’s not what the weekly report says at all.”

Dave’s response, and his following actions, gave me time to pause and reflect. Instead of catching her in the lie, he woke her up gently and then let her know that the weekly report showed she had spent one minute solving two problems last week. “You’ll need to make those up this week,” he said and reassured her she wasn’t in trouble when she began to get upset.

What a different way of doing things. How different from how I had been raised!

And it made me question everything. What purpose did it serve to manipulate Em into lying to me? How would this help our relationship in any way? In fact, wasn’t my plan of catching her in a lie a form of lying in and of itself? By pretending I didn’t know how little she had done in her assigned work, I would encourage her to lie even more, and then promote shame and embarrassment by then “catching” her in the lie.

For the first time I wondered,¬†How would that make Em feel? There wouldn’t just be shame or guilt or embarrassment – there would also be betrayal. I knew she hadn’t done her work, yet I cornered her and manipulated her to lie even further about it. What would this do to her self-esteem?

I had a neighbor back in Belton who let her kids act like complete jerks, all the time, because she “didn’t want to crush their spirit.” I used to joke to my family that really, they needed some spirit-crushing, really¬†needed it.

But self-esteem has always been a battle for me – and remains so to this day – in no small part thanks to the parenting techniques that were used on me (which were used on them, and which I used on my eldest, Danielle).

We repeat what we have learned.

My husband showed me a better way today. One that chooses to be up front, matter of fact, and shies away from the need for shaming or embarrassment. As it turns out, Em felt ashamed of her actions all on her own, she didn’t need me to school her in shame, not at all.

In her hurry to get done with school so that she could play Minecraft, she created a situation where Minecraft will not happen this week, at all, until the weekend. Logical consequences in action.

And I learned a great lesson – one that I hope I remember for a long time.



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