For those of you who haven’t heard the term, a ‘helicopter parent’ is so called because they hover around their children and get too involved in their lives, particularly on the educational side. I would never have considered myself a helicopter parent but the last few months have made me question this. We have made the transition from primary to secondary school this year. It has been a successful transition but it hasn’t been without it’s speed bumps along the way! As a college lecturer I am very aware of the need to make my children independent learners. As my son worked his way up through primary school I found that we got into a routine where he took on more responsibility for things like getting to and from school and completing his homework. By sixth class I rarely checked his homework – we employed a spot check system which worked very well.
For his first week in secondary school I was on holidays and was quite shocked at how difficult I found it waiting for him to come in the door to see how it was going. You can tell so much from the droop of the shoulders as your child walks towards you. Some days in that first couple of weeks the shoulders were square and other days there was a definite droop! Moving from primary to secondary is such a huge change – children are moving from one teacher, one class and one bag of books that are all in play all of the time to multiples of all three. One of the biggest problems he had at the start was getting on top of which collection of textbooks, hardback copies and regular copies were needed on any given day – another difficulty was getting the correct collection of books from the locker into the classroom. A tip from my sister to colour code by subject was such a simple idea and yet you just wouldn’t believe how much it helped 🙂 It’s amazing how something small like this can give a child back some control at a time when they feel completely overwhelmed.
The hovering has extended to more rigorous checking of homework which hasn’t always been appreciated! From my perspective I recognise the need to get into good habits early on which will stand to him as he progresses through secondary and beyond but I can see why he sees it as a retrograde step. This one is still under negotiation as on many occasions homework is completed in free classes or during lunch break. It all seems to be going ok so far so we’ll just have to keep an eye on that one.
We’re now two months down the line and he has really settled into secondary school – he told me last week that he loves the variety of subjects and teachers. He really seems to be connecting with some of the new subjects and to my delight he seems to be re-connecting with some of the ones he had already been exposed to. There has been a lot of talk about teachers playing such a big part in how students connect with their subjects and I can see this in action already. As educators we have such an important role to play and we should never forget this.
Now that things have settled I’m ready to land the helicopter and I’m looking forward to it 🙂