If nothing else, late night studying, fueled by Pepsi and potato chips, was a major component of my college career. Even in high school, I stayed up late on occasion working on some special project. As everything else, things are moving faster than when we were kids and last night, my middle schooler met the student experience known as the all-nighter - she was up until midnight finishing her 10-page thesis paper.
This paper has been a semester long project. The class went to the university library to do research in primary sources and actual books (I was pleased that there were going to be more than websites listed as sources, as seems to be the new thing now). They turned in notecards, outlines, and a rough draft. And for the past couple of weeks, she's been walking around with the rough draft, working on revisions. And as her mother, I've been teetering on the line as to how much help do I give her in editing this paper.
I started off giving her a copy of Strunk & White' "Elements of Style". And reviewed some general grammar rules, like "s" vs. apostrophe-s vs. s-apostrophe. Suggested that she read her paper outloud to see if it made sense. Reading the paper backwards didn't help. I red-marked her pages and sent her back to the keyboard. Sometime late into the evening, she had a moment of profound confusion and I had a good laugh when she listed "Iverson" as the mayor of Atlanta, in place of Ivan Allen (apparently her basketball mind took over her history brain). We went back and forth, over coffee and lemonade, with apologies to the tree that gave its life for her English/World Studies grade. I was glad to have made it through the night without tears, on her part or mine.
When its time for the solar system model or the science fair project, I send the kids straight to their dad. When its essay time, he asks "has your mother seen this?" Right now, we can flip a coin for math. No matter the subject, its sometimes hard to figure out how much help should you give your child. How much do you let them figure out on their own? How big should the safety net be? What's the lesson learned by letting them makes some mistakes? How tight do you hold their hand and when do you let them go?
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