Friday, January 17, 2014

Helicopters or...why I hate the Dojo app.

I don't think it's ever been a secret that I'm not a super "hovering" type parent. I think it was most clear to me when Nathaniel was climbing on the jungle gym at a park when he was a little under 3 and I stood back and watched him figure it out. I also watched as another parent immediately planted herself next to my son and was looking around frantically like he was going to fall any minute. When Nathaniel got stuck he looked over at me and said, "Help, please!"I immediately walked over and helped him figure it out.

The mom then said, "Oh, YOU'RE his mother."

Yup, that's me. Carrie Grummons, endangering children since 2006. (insert eye roll here).

Enter the school years.

In kindergarten the class had a card system. Basically, the kids started the day with green cards up front. Throughout the day, if there was an issue with discipline, the students pulled a card. Depending on the color of the card at the end of the day, that was the punishment doled out. It wasn't a perfect system (no rewards for good behavior and no way to move back to green), it wasn't bad. I think Nathaniel pulled a card once, and I don't even remember what it was for (I just remember the tears he burst into when I gave him a raised eyebrow upon seeing that he had pulled a card).

In first grade they had changed the system to a clip system. Basically, you start your day on green, but throughout the day you can clip up or down depending on the action. But, it's nice because if you clip down, you have chances to clip back up. Again, it's more of a visual reminder to the kiddos to stay in line and not be jerks. The only time there is a consequence for clipping down is if it gets to the yellow or red. Not many kids do that, and it's not my business (as I have told my kids time and again when they try to rat out the naughty kids) as to which kids do clip down.

Enter 2nd grade. During back to school night Nathaniel's teacher told us all about this new app called the class Dojo.

On her ipad the teacher has little icons with the students' names and throughout the day she can give feedback for what the students are doing. Basically, it's still the clip down system, but in real time. I can see the minute my kid clips up or down, and I can see WHY he clipped up or down. The minute I heard about that app I felt my stomach drop deep into the pits of my legs.

This app is the ultimate tool for helicopter parents. There might as well be nanny cams in the classroom at this rate (I shouldn't write that because someone might lobby for one).

What I liked about the other system was that it let me know generally how my kid's day was but left room for conversation at the end of the day. It also gives my kid the freedom to mess up without me getting on his case the second it happens.

Or, for some parents, the teacher's case.

It feels more and more like we are taking too much control of our kids' lives.

When do our kids get the freedom to fail and mess up? When do we give our kids grace and show them that when they mess up they need to own up to it, but then move on?

There is the fine line between being involved in our kids' lives and schooling and take an interest, and taking OVER our kids' lives.

I know of parents who nitpick every single wrong answer on a worksheet and question why it was marked wrong, instead of letting their kids learn from their mistakes.

On the other hand, I see parents who take no interest in their kids' educations and don't step in until the child is failing and frustrated.

There HAS to be a balance!

We need to give our kids the freedom to explore and learn and BE. We need to be their safety net, but we also have to allow them to fall and take responsibility for their actions.

So, I refuse to check the dojo app during the day. Instead, I participate in meaningful conversation with my kiddos and, if I have a real concern, I talk to the teacher, not in a "Why did you do this to my kid?" kind of way but a, "Can you help me understand this?" kind of way.


1 comment:

k8tutor said...

Wait until 6th grade. We have a system called Canvas. It is actively used in high school and colleges. As a parent you get to see your child's academic and behavioral progress daily. Personally, I love it as a parent and as a teacher.

As a parent, I don't want to see my child fall behind. So I feel I need to stay on top of things. I don't consider myself a "helicopter parent", but I like to be involved enough to let my child know, Im watching from a distance.