Today's youth are growing up in a world in which things come too easily. Some of this is a result of technology literally making things "at one's fingertips". They are living in a world that is much different than children lived in just 20 years ago. Many children of the current generation want to achieve numerous things but are unwilling to put in the work necessary to achieve those goals. If there is the slightest hint of difficulty in accomplishing something, many will quickly "wave the white flag". Unfortunately, this is true for many adults as well, and it has seeped into children's school lives.
Many of today's students want straight A's in school but are not terribly excited about having to do typical work or extra work to get those straight A's. Having 17 years of elementary school classroom teaching experience, I have seen countless examples of this. Here are a few tips for parents to help remedy this common occurrence of instant gratification:
1. Start early in your child's life placing emphasis on being autonomous/self-sufficient/responsible/accountable (this will carry over into their educational experience).
2. Talk with your child/children about realistic expectations for school prior to the start of each school year.
3. Create a contract with your child, so there is no confusion about what is expected.
4. Include consequences for any part of the contract that is not fulfilled and enforce the consequences (do not allow negotiating as it undermines the contract terms).
5. Be involved and concerned without being intrusive or overbearing.
6. Periodically check in with the teacher (via phone or e-mail) to keep up to date on what is going on in the classroom, do not "pop in" without prior notice.
7. If an issue arises, do not make assumptions. Contact the teacher and request a time you and your child can speak to the teacher to clarify the situation.
8. Periodically (maybe daily) have brief discussions about your child's school work will significantly reduce the chances of a surprise e-mail or phone call regarding a low grade or missing assignment.