Study Skills Support
What is Personal Responsibility?
Personal responsibility, particularly as it relates to study skills, is the acceptance of responsibility for one’s own learning. Like many skills, the acquisition of personal responsibility is a developmental process, best taught and understood over time.
For our children, personal responsibility begins with the assignment of household chores and jobs along with the establishment of appropriate expectations for their completion. It expands, as students enter school, to include the assumption of school assignments, and the development of skills to help students become independent learner.
Personal responsibility also includes the acceptance of blame for failure or mistakes and the development of self-advocacy skills for interacting with other learners and adults.
Personal Responsibility Tips:
Serve as a model for responsible behavior, promising and delivering on those jobs and expectations you choose to accept---at home, with friends, in your community.
Assign developmentally appropriate jobs for your children to complete. Be sure to provide instruction on how the job is to be done. (Jobs might include making their bed, setting the table, picking up toys and games, taking out garbage, feeding a pet).
Provide specific feedback on the completion of the assigned tasks. Recognize effort, quality, and progress, but also provide guidance areas for improvement.
Establish consequences for responsibilities which were not met. It is best if the consequences are not punitive, but logical in nature.
Set rules, routines, and guidelines. Children need this, and these structures will support similar expectations from teachers, employers and others during their lifetime.
Let your child help with new and challenging tasks. By doing so, your child’s sense of confidence and competence will increase.
Set aside a regular time to talk with your child about his/her school responsibilities. Initially, and until the habit is established, a daily check is necessary. As the habit is formed and students move through junior high and into high school, it is important to check less frequently so the burden of this responsibility shifts to the student.
Avoid making excuses or rescuing your child when his/her responsibilities have not been met. Students must learn to deal with the consequences of their own behavior; mistakes and failures are magnificent learning opportunities!
Role-play scenarios with your child that helps them to talk with their teacher or other adults/students about their grades, assignments, classroom performance, or other school issues.
Scaffold your child’s development of personal responsibility, providing much instruction and guidance initially and much less over time.
Web Resources on Personal Responsibility:
Helping children develop
Building responsible kids:
Helping students take
personal responsibility for learning:
Common Q/A on Personal Responsibility:
1. 1. When should parents begin to teach personal responsibility skills?
It is almost never too early to begin. Well before a child enters school, it is important to assign chores or jobs for them to complete. Provide plenty of guidance and praise initially, helping them to understand what is expected. As your child goes to school, talk about what is expected during the school day and those responsibilities that are given for completion outside the school day. Monitor your child’s planner or assignment notebook, asking for clarification whenever necessary. Communicate regularly with your child’s teacher to ensure class work and homework are completed in a timely fashion.
2. What if my child won’t bring his/her homework home?
Students may not bring homework home for many reasons: confusion, forgetfulness, lack of motivation, rebelliousness, other priorities, etc. However, the best way to overcome this behavior is to establish clear expectations about homework completion and communicate regularly (daily) about it. Initially, it may be necessary to take your child back to school to retrieve homework assignments or textbook materials. If this is a regular occurrence, the application of some type of consequence is appropriate/necessary.
3. What if my child does not understand his/her homework or assignment?
Begin by reviewing the task yourself. Provide an explanation you think addresses the task. If you are not sure of the assignment or a particular portion of the assignment, help your child formulate a question to ask his/her teacher. Check with your child to determine if the question was asked and the explanation understood. If your child experiences repeated confusion in a particular subject area or class, schedule a conference with the teacher to discuss the situation.
4. Why do students procrastinate?
Students procrastinate for many reasons: fear of failure, uncertainty of the task, lack of motivation, other priorities, and/or a desire to be perfect. However, the real question is not why do students procrastinate but how to help them overcome that tendency. The following tips may help as you work with your child:
Prioritize the tasks
Develop a schedule and stick with it
Reward task completion (small breaks, fun activity, etc.)
Get help (friend, teacher, parent) when the task is difficult
Eliminate distractions and/or excuses for doing other things
5. What should I do as a parent if my child is not getting along with the teacher?
Personality conflicts between teachers and students do
occur. Listen to your child to understand the circumstances of the situation.
Role-play possible conversations or issues to address with the teacher. Provide
specific guidance on time, place, and language (tone of voice and word choice)
to use. Allow your child to take the initial responsibility for the improvement
of the relationship. If the relationship does not improve and your child’s
attitude toward school or educational progress is affected by it, develop a
course of intercession. Depending upon the level, talk with your child’s
teacher, the school counselor, or the building principal. Begin the
conversation with the concerns your child has expressed to you and a desire to
positively affect the learning process. Avoid accusations and defensiveness,
looking to find a solution of mutual benefit.