Thursday, October 11, 2012

Teaching personal responsbility or The Case of the Missing Library Book

I love going to the library with my children.  We go every week.  I love that they can choose their own books and find out what they like and don't like.  I love that the older ones now know how to ask the librarian to help them find certain books or put books on hold that are checked out.  I love that it teaches them a love of books.  I hate gathering the books at the end of the week to take back.

Each child gets to choose 5 books each week.  They have their own library bag to carry the books to and from the library.  They really like checking out their own books on the computer.  Each child checks out separately and gets a printed receipt at the end of checking out that shows what books they have.  This allows them to easily track what books they need to return at the end of the week.  If only it were so easy.

I've found there is a fine line between letting my children take personal responsibility for gathering and returning their library books, and having them drive me crazy because a book is missing.  It would be so much easier to just gather all of their books for them and put them in the proper bag.  We even keep most of the books together on one bookshelf, but invariably a book will have been taken somewhere else in the house, or hidden under someones covers, or fallen under the bed.  Four children at 5 books each = 20 books = a lot of books to find at the end of the week.  The books are really checked out for 3 weeks, but I know that if we don't find the book the first week, it's not going to get any easier to find it the next 2 weeks.

Isn't it so much easier to just do things for our kids sometimes rather than let them take personal responsibility for it?  I'm pretty sure I could gather all the books in under 10 minutes.  Instead, sometimes it seems to take us close to an hour to get out the door to the library with all of the books found.  This is one of those things as a parent where I just have to repeat to myself: "I'm teaching them responsibility. It's worth it. I'm teaching them responsibility..."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Changing family dynamics

Having a child in school all day changes family dynamics quite a bit.  Our oldest is quite imaginative and is constantly thinking up new "games" for she and her younger siblings to play. She'll take charge, make up the rules, and lead the way.  "We're playing castle, and I'm the princess, you're the knight, and you're the baby. We have to run away from the dragon who's trying to eat us."  It's great to see her take charge, but she is now gone during the day. This leaves little brother in charge.

My 4 year old son, is a good follower.  Being the oldest at home during the school day, though, there's not someone else to take charge of playing. It's great to see him becoming the one who makes up the game for his younger sister to play.  Of course, having a 4 year old boy in charge leads to playing different things than when a 6 year old girl is in charge. There's a lot more building of castles going on than before rather than just chasing. But it's still fun to see him take charge.

With this change in "leadership" roles, there can be some conflicts when the oldest is not at school. Number 2 is used to being in charge, and when number 1 is home, at times there is some disagreement about what to do.  For the most part, however, they fall back into their original roles with the oldest being in charge.

I'm not sure these family dynamics change, even 40 years down the road.  When my siblings and I all get together (which is not that frequently), I see us as still falling into some of the same roles as when we were little kids. I think maybe we're better, maybe, about allowing for change, but in some ways, my oldest sister will still be in charge of what we're "playing" and the "baby" will always be the baby.