Tutoring Transition: Separation Anxiety


Studying with minimal supervision

Answering her Enopi sheets

My daughter turned 10 this year.  She is in Grade 5.  I decided that she is old enough for me to let go a little and trust her to study on her own.  I am planning to gradually decrease the supervision until she becomes confident enough to do it on her own.

To say my daughter resisted is an understatement.

Instead of her usual seat right beside me on the study table, I moved her to the seat across from me.  I let Aidan sit beside me as he is only in Grade 1 and still has difficulty focusing for long periods of time.

Since I decided long ago to slowly let go of monitoring her studies, the new seating arrangement will allow me to focus on Aidan who requires more supervision as he is a neophyte in the world of Elementary School responsibilities, scheduled quizzes and a touch of advance work.  This is also my first time tutoring A so we’re also in the process of adjusting to each other.

Since last year, I’ve been training daughter to keep her own date book with homework, term paper and quiz schedules detailed on a calendar to prepare her for my gradual detachment in her studies.  I explained to her this will allow her to plan her week at a glance and see what she needs to focus on.  This year, I took it a step further and I told her she needs to tell me what she feels she needs to study next based on her schedules.  I told her she also needs to decide on her own if she has time to do a little advance work or advance reading.  I assured her that if she needs help with a topic she can feel free to ask me.  She can also ask me to give her tests if she feels it’s necessary.

At first things were fine.  She studied without complaint.  She’d ask for advice on what I think she needed to do.  She reviewed the lessons on her own …. and then one day, jealousy suddenly reared its ugly head.

First, she insisted on taking her brother A‘s chair.  She said it was unfair that A always gets the seat beside me.  I told her to move since she can study on her own but A needs me like she needed me when she was in Grade 1.  She moved… but it was obvious she wasn’t happy.

She didn’t make a huge fuss but I could feel her discontent.  She was pouting and acting a huffy — demanding attention every few minutes.  Instead of studying her lessons in bulk, she ended up studying it in bits and demanding that I test her every few minutes which makes it impossible for me to focus on Aidan’s lessons.

C had a history of magnifying small hurts or injustices into big “you-love-A-more-than-me” breakdowns.  So I knew what was brewing in her little pre-teen head.

The minute A was done with his studies, I told A to go play and then C and I had a talk.

I explained to C that I am slowly distancing myself from her tutoring because I felt she was old enough to learn to study on her own.  I felt it was very important for her to learn to schedule, to prioritize and to motivate herself.  I told her it’s a lifeskill that everyone needs to learn because there will come a time that no one will tell her what to do.  She needs to be able to identify what has to be done on her own, do it and do it well.  The older she gets the more difficult it will be for her to figure out how to manage her time and her tasks if she’s to dependent on someone else.  I told her that this is a good time to learn because the worst thing that can happen to her is her grades drop a little bit.

I told her the lesson I’m trying to teach her is something priceless and is worth more than getting an exceptionally high grade because I’m telling her what to do.  I’d rather that she get an okay grade but she learns how to be a self-starter and a self-motivator.  I explained that this is the reason why, from the beginning, I decided to tutor her myself instead of hiring a tutor for her because as a parent I will be able to teach her life lessons such as this in a gradual, timely manner.

I told her that when A turns 10, I will do the same for him because I’d be doing him a disservice if I didn’t.

I assured her that I will still sit down with her even though I’m no longer focused 100% on her studies and telling her what to do.  I promised to be there for her just  in case she needs me and she can approach me anytime.  I also asked her to understand that I’m doing what I feel is best for her.

She understood.  There was no more huffiness after that.

I’m sure we will make a lot more adjustments during this transition period.   There is a lot of work left undone sometimes and she tends to stop studying the minute A is done with his work.

To make study time a little more systematic, we both agreed to implement making a checklist of things to do before we start studying.  She’ll make her own and I’ll make A‘s.  She just made me promise to double-check her list for a few months until she gets used to it.

I’m just hoping she really understood my reasons so any other growing pains will be based on logic and not turn into an emotional battle.

I’m sticking to my guns right now because I feel she can do it.

Study time is still a struggle right now but I’m sticking to my guns because I feel she can do it.  I’m hoping it’ll get much better soon.

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