"If you’ve got tears, you’re done. There’s nothing more to discuss or do that day. It’s gone too far."
Last week I reviewed what I was doing and split up the 'table-work' so that yesterday morning all we attempted was handwriting. My middle son wrote three sentences. My little girl, seven words. Having written their very best, they were tired, the pencil-work was getting sloppy and and I was beginning to find fault. I told them to stop. They looked at me with uncertain faces: was I about to shout? No, I simply said that that was enough for today (as I slipped away the lines from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' that I had optimistically printed off for them to copy-write!) We retired to the sofa and began "One Hundred and One Dalmatians" and the epic "The Lord of the Rings". I felt close to the children, relaxed, and read for far longer than I normally do.
In the back of my mind I could imagine a school-teacher or an inspector criticising how much, or rather, how little we had done. I could hear the voice saying "They've got to learn to push through," or "How will they ever learn anything if that's all they do?" It was scary. I knew I could have made them write more and probably done some maths too, but I know that it would have been poor-quality, miserable work. I also know that my relationship with them would have been frayed a little. And, while we would have had more to show the fictitious inspector, I do not believe that they would have learned any more, except, perhaps, that appearances count for more that reality. So, while there were few words on the page, I believe that their handwriting improved a little from careful practice and they learned that quality matters, their feelings are heard and that we don't always have to fight!