January 09, 2012
Last night at 8:30pm, my first-born (now an eleven-year old sixth grader) came into my room. "Can you sign-off on my report?"
This was the report on Ancient Egypt that has been in process for months. Originally due the Wednesday before winter break, their teacher delayed the due date to the Friday before winter break. I suppose enough students were expressing concerns with the deadline, so he again delayed the due date to the Wednesday after winter break, then to the Friday after winter break, and then - finally - the final, drop-dead, absolute, no-more-delays deadline was the Monday after winter break, TODAY.
"Sure," I said. "Let me just skim it first."
The intro page had formatting issues (inconsistent font, weird paragraph breaks), the second page had two typos, the fourth page had incomplete sentences, and conclusion page did not make any conclusive statements. What ensued was a tense two hour session of refining the entire paper, her dad taking the lead with this effort... while I stewed.
I remember once, when I was in sixth grade, I told my parents at 9pm on a Sunday that my science project was due the next day. In a tizzy, I made the solar system out of paper mache and attached it to cardboard, staying up until about 1am. My dad came in at that time and said, "why don't you get some sleep?" and he went on to stay up hours later painting it for me. I won 3rd place in the science fair that year.
I hate procrastination. And, I hate my kids staying up late. I am a huge sleep advocate and stress about their sleep consumption. I was so, so, so upset last night. Why did not we (the collective "we" including myself, my daughter and my husband) finalize this report weeks ago, even over winter break? Procrastination is much too easy. What is your approach to homework (long-term assignments especially) that won't leave the bulk of the work to the 11th hour? Do you do progress check-ins? Do you trust that the final product is "final", and skip the review all together?