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Nancy Coolidge | Lazy students or lack of skills?

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Many times parents tell me that their student could do the work if he really wanted to. “He’s just lazy,” they tell me, or “She just doesn’t care.”

I have trouble with the concept, however. Does it make sense that a student would deliberately take on the wrath of parents and teachers just because he doesn’t feel like doing his schoolwork? Is it logical to believe that she prefers bad grades, lost privileges, no extracurricular participation just because she doesn’t care?

I think about things I don’t like to do: ironing, pulling weeds, meetings, taking down and putting away the holiday decorations. I think about all the ways I find to put off those tasks. At some point, I bite the bullet and do the things I’ve been avoiding. And, they are almost never as difficult or annoying or boring or awful as I had anticipated.

There are many reasons kids don’t complete homework or avoid studying for tests or wait until the last minute for projects. It could be they think they have better things to do, such as friends, games, texting. That’s resolved with set study times and parental guidance. But it could be they don’t know how to go about their task. It may be they feel at some inner level that they won’t be successful so why bother. It may be a combination.

So what do we do? First, know that your student isn’t lazy. He or she lacks the tools necessary to be successful. Even organizational skills are tools for academic success and need to be and can be taught.

Your resources are the same: check with the teachers and other professionals; use resources available at your public library; talk to other parents. Assume that your student will do better when his/her toolbox is loaded and then provide the tools. He/she will respond better to the positive comments and concrete steps. And your life will be simpler, easier, and less stressful — at least your life with your student.

Wenatchee resident Nancy Coolidge is a classroom teacher, radio personality and director of several Sylvan Learning Centers. You can ask her a question by posting a comment on her Good Habits, Great Grades blog at wenatcheeworld.com or by emailing goodhabitsgreatgrades@gmail.com.