Thanks to all my readers for your wonderful comments on my “Getting Real” posts. (If you missed my previous posts, you can read about Giving Up, Chaos, Flops and Attitudes in the series.)
Today I would like to talk about a sinister reality that crept in our high school phase ~ Cheating!
Imagine my shock to find my high schooler cheating! Not just copying the maths answers from the back of the book, but serious exam-type cheating!
I suppose it was to be expected for several reasons:
- My high schooler worked much more independently, and I didn’t watch her carefully.
- The work was difficult and my child was anxious and stressed.
- The exam results were sent to an external curriculum provider who would compile an official report. There was no chance of any mother-leniency.
- Most cheaters cheat because they are ~
- fear of failure
- hate test situations
- or because they have had bad results before
At the very start of the exam session I caught sight of some papers and realized she had made plans … and my blood ran cold. I knew that this was serious. Not because cheating is bad, which it is, but because I was faced with dealing with a child’s character, choices, ethics and morals, and I wanted to handle this situation with firmness and yet with dignity.
By God’s grace I didn’t blowup and make a mountain out of a molehill. We went for a walk. We talked. I listened and tried not to formulate a huge lecture in my mind. I deliberately told my ego that this situation was not a reflection of me, but of my child. Importantly, I did not label my child a “cheater”. I gave her the grace to confess and really apologize, to face her fears, and sit the exam afresh and try her best.
My kids are accountable and they need to ask for help. If they are unsure and afraid of tests and exams, they are simply not ready. Homeschooling allows for extra time, and there is often time to do more reviews. Using past papers is an excellent tool for exam preparation.
High schoolers must work authentically and take more responsibility for their learning and studying. School is their ‘work’ and they must do their best. They should understand that cheating denies them the real learning experiences.
My high school graduate and myself believe that her matric exams were not about the information she learnt, but the exam preparation, learning skills and actual exam writing skills. It does not take 12 years to prepare your child for their graduate/ matric exams! Your child can master exams in 1 year, even if they have never sat for formal, external exams. Please, please, please don’t chose an exam-type education for your child’s high school years just so that they can write their final exams!
May I suggest that young children do not need to write tests at all. Working one-on-one, your daily work is proof enough of your child’s understanding and recall. When there are real difficulties, then, by all means, have your child evaluated, but on the whole, allow your child to learn and progress at their own pace. When they are ready, they will master the work!
I really encourage moms to carefully consider the stresses and tensions and fears children face when they write tests and exams. We, as moms and teachers, are also measured by their failures and successes, and we also suffer through this process. If your child does not cope well under test situations, please consider other options, and where possible, choose curriculums which do not require exams throughout the year. I understand that your country or state may have regulations that insist on test results, but I would encourage you to find a 3rd party tester who can assist your frightened child in a personal way.
It is so important to build relationships of trust, honor and dignity with your children. If they feel that we understand their fears and anxiety, they will not feel the need to cheat. Give them more time to master the work. I seem to repeat this often ~ TAKE YOUR TIME and enjoy the journey!