Monday, August 6, 2012

Deadline weakness in homeschoolers?

From March 1996 "Teachable Moment":

"You're their mother and it's natural you will give them more slack."  "They'll never learn to meet deadlines-they'll be trained procrastinators." Maybe you've received similar comments and bits of counsel in your homeschooling experience. I certainly have during four years of homeschooling!

What disturbed me is that some of these comments hit a nerve. Maybe there was some truth in them. I remember a time that the older kids and I had decided on a due date for papers they were writing. You guess it - one of them didn't finish it by the due date. However, it was finished, just later than projected. Since we don't bother with grades, where was the natural consequence?

I finally decided that the main objective with this particular assignment was learing to write the paper and that meeting the due date was a secondary objective. How then would we attain the objective of learning to meet deadlines?

First, I defined what it meant to meet a deadline. To me, it meant setting a goal to accomplish something specific, planning the course of action needed and projecting the amount of time required, and then carrying out the plan.

After pondering on this subject for some time, I would like to share what is working for our family. I feel good about these methods and feel they are accomplishing the goal of learning to meet deadlines.

We enourage the children to enter contests as often as they can. That puts the burden of meeting the deadline on the kids. I have no control to say it's okay to wait one more day. If  they don't submit their entry on time, the logical consequence will be no participation in the contest. This requires keeping our eyes and ears open. The newspaper and the FPEA Almanac have been very helpful in this area. We have entered two contests this year through the newspaper. One was a math contest sponsored by Sprint-Centel. It involved word problems. And by the way, Shelley won $25 from this one! The second one was an editorial cartoon contest. The prize was $50 in this case. Although no one in our house won this time, it was a great learning experience and they made the deadline!

Since we are participating in the Florida Stock Market Game sponsored by the Florida  Council on Economic Education,I was excited to spot an announcement for an essay contest sponsored by NASDAQ. This contest is open to children between the ages of 5 and 18. Twenty-five winners will be selected and will receive $1000 to invest.

Other local contests I've heard about but not pursued at this time are the Tropicana Speech Contest and the Leon County Spelling Bee. It's gratifying to note that some homeschoolers did place in the speech contest this year.

Contests are just one way of helping your children learn to meet deadlines. I realized another way our children work on this is when they're assigned to be the speaker at church. They definitely have to prepare in order to deliver a talk at a set time and date.

Deadlines, whetherwe like them or not, are a fact of adult life. We feel a need for our children to be successful in this area before adulthood. For our family, finding natural and rewarding methods to incorporate this concept has answered the need.

Followup in 2012: I have no idea if the Stock Market Game or contests sponsored by NASDAQ still exist. But I do know homeschoolers continue to participate locally in the Leon County and surrounding counties Spelling Bees and the Tropicana Speech Contests. All four of our children did grow up and also learn to meet deadlines!


  1. I completely agree! I LOVE deadlines. They are my parameters to keep me in check. Without them I feel I am hanging and waiting. Tonya & waiting are an impatient mix of company! :D

  2. I tend to be the same way! Especially with projects around the house...if we don't set a never gets done!