It happens all the time. You drop your son or daughter off to school, and as you hop back in the car, you realise that they’ve forgotten something. Maybe it’s a book, or their lunch/water bottle, or something else they’ll probably need that day. So, off we go, back into the school to drop off the item at the school office so that it can be delivered to out child’s classroom. But is this the best idea to help our children become more independent?
Would it be better to just leave and let them deal without having that thing for one day? Which choice would be best in helping them to become more independent? And make them not rely on their parents fixing every little problem for them.
One school here in Singapore has taken that decision away fro parents, and I think this is a good thing. At Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School they’ve put up signs telling parents not to drop off forgotten items. And if the parents still go to the school office, they won’t accept the item and they’ll be turned around.
The full text of the signs read “STOP. Let Your Child Grow Up. If you are delivering your child’s forgotten lunch, books, homework, shoes, instruments, etc. Please TURN AROUND AND LEAVE. Your child will learn to solve problems and take responsibility for the consequences in your absence. Thank you.”
I think that says it all really, and whilst my son’s (Jay) school doesn’t have this policy, I’m going to follow it and if he forgets to take something with him, he’ll have to do without for the day. Oh, and if you think the kids might be left without lunch for the day, the school will lend them money to buy their lunch, but they’ll need to repay it.
I seems to me that this is a perfectly simple but effective way of teaching Jay about responsibility without any major risks. The only time I can see myself not following through would be in the case of needed medicines. I think even the school above would make an exception for that.
The biggest problem with this plan, is that in the last 2 1/2 years that Jay has been going to school, I can’t actually remember a time when he has forgotten anything. Oh, there have been a couple of occasions where my wife or I have dropped something off at the school office, but they were cases where we had to buy a text book for him that hadn’t been previously available and then drop it straight off.
Which means that using this system of teaching him independence may not work for us, unless we deliberately take something out of his bag and let him think he forgot it. But even I’m not that mean, and I’m the type of person to plan to shave peoples heads whilst they’re asleep.
Thankfully there are plenty of other ways we can teach independence on a daily basis, but I think I’ll leave those examples for another time.