Forgotten school items and responsibility: my take

Three drawn faces depicting varying levels of happiness.

Last year I wrote a post about learning to let my kids make mistakes so they can learn from them. It’s a learning curve that I’m very much still on and it’s far from easy.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to debate a related topic on national radio. If you follow BBC Radio 5 Live’s Nihal Arthanayake on Twitter, you’ll know all about it already.

If not, his son forgot to take his homework folder to school and Nihal wasn’t sure whether to take it in for him or let him learn the hard way.

This question of responsibility inspired so much online conversation that it accounted for the first hour of yesterday’s show.

I joined Sasha who blogs at The Goddess Lounge as well as several callers and there were so many interesting points raised by everyone involved. The general consensus seemed to be that children need to learn themselves and I agree with that.

My older two are both at primary school and have both forgotten homework, reading records and PE kits more than once.

So far, I’ve taken things in for them and will continue to do so, albeit with a caveat. Once they’re at secondary school, they’re on their own!

At eight and six, they’re still very young, so letting them get in trouble at this stage doesn’t seem fair.

I think younger children are already under enough pressure as it is these days. The fact that they have homework in primary school, for example, is ridiculous.

All this said, we’re already attempting to instil some responsibility. Both boys know that they need to check that everything is in their bags at the start of each day. Hopefully, by the time they go to secondary school, they’ll be well drilled.

They’ll need to be as I won’t be able to bail them out! I don’t drive and all the local secondary schools are slightly further afield than their primary. But even if I could drive, my feeling is that I wouldn’t.

We all need to learn about responsibility, otherwise, we grow up assuming that life owes us a living. Furthermore, people who’ve had everything done for them in life are clueless. Just look at most cabinet ministers!

As one caller also pointed out, it’s important that we learn awkward lessons like these as children because it builds resilience.

Realising that a forgotten homework assignment isn’t the end of the world is a key¬†part of learning responsibility.

As parents, we have to be more than just safety nets. It’s up to us to play our parts in teaching our children difficult lessons.

Naturally, the thought of my kids being upset or embarrassed saddens me, but knowing that experiences like this will ultimately help them is the important thing.

In fact, it’s good for teaching us resilience as parents too.

What do you think? Do you take forgotten items in for your children or is it up to them to remember?


  1. Ian

    I love this! I am well and truly in your camp on this one. I have two at primary and one at high school. I do take forgotten homework/PE kits etc for the younger two. My eldest is learning by his mistakes.

    1. Post

      Thanks, Ian. Yes, I think that’s the best approach – we should help those who are too young to get it but they have to learn at some point so, once they get older, my lot are on their own!

  2. Pingback: When should kids get their first phone? - Parenting - Diary of the Dad

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