Monday, June 24, 2013

Giving Criticism is Tough

The most difficult thing for me as a parent is giving criticism to my children.  This is my biggest challenge as a homeschool mom ( I completely understand why homeschooling is not for everyone for a variety of reasons).  It is really difficult to give your child corrective or constructive criticism.  It is so much easier to leave it to a teacher and quite frankly, kids will probably take a teacher's critique a lot better and her authority on a subject more seriously.  But, as a mom and a homeschool parent, I need to dish out criticism once in a while.

The last thing I want to do is thwart their little spirits or stomp on their self-esteem.  I try to be tactful.  I always, always make it a priority to have a private meeting with them when I need to give criticism.  I always start by praising them for things they do well.  I always try to be gentle about the criticism and offer several suggestions for improvement and even my help over the long haul.

When I read Delight Directed Learning by Lee Binz, the thing that really stuck with me was that if we say everything is good then nothing has meaning.  The really good stuff doesn't mean anything and no one learns from the not-so-good stuff.  I have become more courageous about mentioning when I don't think something is up to par or up to the best of their ability.  If my private conference on a topic doesn't work, then Jason and I talk to the girls together.  Jason is much tougher than I am and he takes away media, because often times when their work is not up to par it's because they were in a rush to go do something else.

I don't want to take the joy out of learning or things my girls love by being critical, but I want them to do their best work.  Sometimes those two things war it out in my mind.  Jason and I have discussed this MANY, MANY times and he is a firm believer in offering criticism and having the girls straighten up or be punished and he is much better at finding punishments that fit the crime and sticking to the punishments than I am!  So, if several "meetings" with me don't work, Jason and I approach the child together--he is a lot less gentle and he doles out punishments.

It sucks.  Maybe we are strict.  I am sure some parents will disagree with how we handle things, but I want to know my girls have a strong work ethic and do their best work.  As my Grandpa always said, "Anything worth doing is worth doing well."