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How to stop mothering your child and why it starts earlier than you think

I’ll never forget sitting at back-to-school night for my 1st grader. He was in a new school, he loved it, and this was our first real view of the classroom and the school. That evening we all gathered in the main room where the principal of the school addressed us. I don’t remember much of what she said, but there was one sentence that stood out in my mind and shaped me as a parent in a way I never expected.

She said, “stop sending your child the message that they cannot do something that is or should be age-appropriate.” She went on to say, “I see all you moms and dads standing at the bus stop with your children waiting for the bus to pick them up. I see you out there with your Kindergarteners and your 4th and 5th graders. If you live in an area of concern, the first year might be okay to teach your child, maybe even into first grade. By the time your child is in 3rd grade, I’m pretty sure they now have been taught by you where to go, when to go there, and how to board the bus. I bet they even know how to get off the bus themselves and walk home. Did you know that every time you do something for your child that they know how to do themselves, you send them the message that they are not capable and you DO NOT TRUST THEM? That is why you must do it for them.”

Wow, I looked at my husband, and he looked at me and thought this was the best thing we’d ever heard. We vowed coming out of there that we did not want to send our kids that message every day. What parent does? Most parents’ primary goal in life is to teach children to be independent and trustworthy. Here we were sending them the wrong message and not even knowing how it would affect them down the road. I feel fortunate to have been there that day and heard that talk.

So, yes, we were the parents you didn’t see at the bus stop. I told my kids they were capable of walking to the corner and getting on the bus. They did it in the snow and the rain because, well, they were capable of doing that. They were the kids that got themselves dressed, brushed their teeth, and washed their hair. They didn’t always match or look handsome, but they got the job done and were proud and capable. When they learned how to do laundry in the 7th-grade FACTS class, I showed them how to use our machines and clean the lint trap. When they passed the class, I said, great, now you are capable of doing your laundry, and they did. I stopped doing their laundry, not because I didn’t care but because I did care. I cared enough to send my child the message that you are capable.

The best part of letting your kids do their laundry is that they appreciate it when you help them do it on occasion because they have a game or finals. The other great thing is that when they went off to college, it was one less thing they stressed about because they had been doing it for years and knew when it needed to get done and when to fit it in. They went to college, and they were confident, as were we, that they could do it all.

I had boys who lived in shorts and sweatshirts. No matter how cold it was, I found myself constantly nagging them to wear a coat or pants. My son turned to me one day and said, I’m capable of deciding what I want to wear. Wow, mental check right then and there. I never said a word again and realized if he were that cold, he would adjust accordingly. One cold December morning, he walked to the bus stop with his brother in shorts, sneakers, and a sweatshirt. It was freezing, and there was a dusting of snow on the ground. I think he was in 7th or 8th grade. They stood out there waiting for the bus while all the other kids sat in their parents’ cars waiting for the bus to come. Later that morning, a well-meaning mom, I’m sure, called to let me know that my son was at the bus stop in shorts this morning. Yes, I said, I’m aware. I guess he’s not cold. Call me when he wears pants, because when he is cold enough, he has them to wear. I’m pretty sure he knows when his body is cold and when he needs to wear pants. I figure if he learns this lesson now to trust his own body and dress it accordingly, I won’t have to worry about him when he goes off to college.

They made their own lunches. They cleaned their own rooms, and they paid for their own activities and extras. We told them we would always provide them with the essentials and meet their needs, but their wants were on them. They learned this in elementary school. We used to take them to Rita’s Ice and buy them water ice. They wanted a misto or a gelati, so we said, okay, bring your allowance money to pay for the upgrade that you want. Sometimes they did. Most of the time, they did not. They learned they could buy a gallon of ice cream for $4.00 and have it to make a sundae one night, a shake one night, and several nights of ice cream dishes. We didn’t do this because we couldn’t afford it. We did it because we wanted to teach them the value of a dollar. We want them to make sound financial decisions and know if we started them young, they would have no problem with money decisions in the future.

My daughter told me one time that she was the only one who had to pay for her dinner when she went out with her friends. I won’t lie. It tugged at my heart….for about 2 minutes. Then I thought about how she was learning to navigate that and manage her money, and more importantly, she now had a desire and a reason to make money. She got her first job when she was in 6th grade. She got home at 2:30, had a snack, did some homework, and then guess what? She walked to the bus stop, got a 2nd grader off the bus and walked her home, got her a snack, did her homework with her, and watched her till her mom got home at 6:00 pm. She did that five days a week and made $100 a week. She did that for a year, and then other moms started calling her to babysit, and they knew she was capable.

I’m sure the parents sitting in their cars with their kids on rainy/snowy days saw my kids out there and made some judgments about our parenting. I’m sure they wondered why as a stay-at-home mom, I wasn’t there to get them off the bus each day. I will admit, I wanted to be there with all the other parents, but I kept hearing those words in my head, what are you teaching your kids. Every time I felt the pull to step in, give advice, tell them what to do, I sent them the message that they couldn’t figure it out independently. I would forget, I felt pressure to be like the other parents, and I’m sure I failed to send the right message on many occasions. I also know that I got it right more often than not. My kids all went out of state to college. In year two, they moved in and out if they could. They helped to shop at garage sales for old furniture and then helped to refinish it to look new for them. They knew how to cook, manage their money, do their laundry, get themselves up and manage their time when they left for school. We never woke our kids up for school. We gave them an alarm, taught them how to set it, and never through 12 years of school did they not get up and get to school.

That one principal taught me more in one hour than I ever learned in a parenting book. I hope in some small way you have learned from me sharing this story as well. It’s not easy flying against the pack but isn’t that what we tell our kids to do? Don’t follow the crowd. Now when I pass a school bus stop and see parents standing there, I wonder at what age will that parent be able to let go of their child.

REVIEWS

Want to share your experience with Back to Basics Learning Dynamics or Augustine Hills School? We appreciate if you could write a brief Google Review of our services.

PARENT REVIEWS

“We reached out to Back to Basics for our son (6) when we thought he could use some extra help. I appreciate how they keep the lines of communication open so everyone stays on the same page. BTB worked with us to find the perfect tutor with a schedule that meets our needs. They were able to connect us with his current tutor, Teresa A****, and she is wonderful! She brings many years of knowledge and teaching experience and ensures that each session is fun and different. She even gives us ideas on fun learning activities that we can use to work with him at home. Our son looks forward to his sessions and has learned so much.” — Chrystynn Bowles

“The tutor my son has is patient, caring, reliable and very knowledgeable. I have been extremely satisfied with her services and highly recommend Back to Basics.” — Lori Spier

“Back to Basics has been great. From our initial phone call, we could not be happier. Our 6th grade daughter was struggling with Algebra. It was beyond my ability to help her and our tutor, Margie was very professional and helped my daughter immensely. She was professional, patient and kind and she is a great role model to my daughter as well – an accomplished woman with a background in engineering who is easy to work with.” — Ruth Gilbert

“My experience with Back to Basics has been wonderful. We contracted with a math and an English tutor for my daughter and both were excellent – kind, supportive, and most important, helped her effectively prepare for the ISEE high school entrance exam. The support staff were also very friendly and efficient. Highly recommended!” — Alisa Morkides 

“Mr. Green has been a great help for our 10 yr old grandson. His math scores in math went up to grade level and his vocabulary, as well.” — Edwin Cartwright

“On behalf of our family, I am writing to both commend and thank you for the tutoring service you provided to our grandson David. With the help of Sonia Hewitt, David received an award at graduation as the most improved student. He ended 9th grade with mostly D’ and F’s. He graduated with all A’s! Sonia communicated his progress and needs to us and Angie always responded to my concerns as well. Continue your good work.” — Anna E. Krall

“My daughter started attending Back to Basics Private School during the third marking period this year (11th grade). I have to say they made all the difference for her. She was struggling at her old school (which was also private). Both her grades and her emotional well being have gone way up. My daughter used to dread going to school and would make every excuse to stay home. Now she she gets mad when I mentioned that the school year is almost over. She can’t believe the interest the teachers have taken in her. As she said to me “they really care about me”. This school as been for us a God send. I only wish I had found it sooner.” — James Tyre

“Back to Basics is a fantastic source for students to get the extra help they may need in any subject. Our tutor David Power is the best!  He is so smart and so helpful.  My sons respect him and trust him greatly to give them the guidance and help they may need with homework,  study preparation, preparing for a test or quiz or just answering a question. He communicates very well with terrific input always. His emails to us are so helpful and insightful so that we can all help our student the best possible together.   Your staff is always so helpful.  Angie Carbine, in particular,  always answers my questions and always gets back to me right away with the best help and support.  We are very pleased and lucky to have such a top notch tutoring facility so close to home in our community.” — Joseph Wahl

“My daughter and I were very satisfied with the level of instruction provided by the tutor. It says a lot that my daughter was able to turn an “F” into an “A.” I think the combination of one on one instruction and the tutor’s knowledge of the subject matter made all the difference. I would highly recommend Back to Basics to any parent whose child is struggling in academics. I know that we will be using them in the future.” — Jim Tyre

“Caleb did receive ‘Most Improved in Math’ for the entire 8th grade during the graduation ceremony, which we certainly owe to you.” –Kerri Watson

“Candise is an excellent Tutor. Our daughter is finally passing her math classes, which she would never have achieved without the help of Candise! We are very grateful for Candise and Back to Basics.” –Lorraine Peterson

“Both of my children have had Mr. Power as their math tutor at different times. They have decided that he’s a math god. He has a gift for explaining the most complex math topics in a way that has enabled each to not only understand the information during the tutor session, but also retain the information and build upon it as each math chapter is covered at school. More than once on the day after a tutoring session with Mr. Power, they’ve been asked how to figure out a problem by one of the other students in their class – and they’ve been able to explain it to the other student and have been told, “Now I get it.” This is just one example of how effective Mr. Power is as a tutor.”
— Nathan Midgett

“After the PSAT, Christine was devastated. We knew she had a long way to go if she wanted to receive an acceptance to her dream college. Her tutors worked to help her overcome her anxiety and timing issues and she was diligent in completing all of her “homework” assignments. She took the test once and received a score of 2300 [combined score used for three subject areas in the 2015 test]. She also received her coveted acceptance to Georgetown University! Her SAT score absolutely pushed her over the top and it would not have been possible without Back to Basics!” —Susan McNeill

“THANK YOU!! I am so proud of Cassie and the work she did on her project. She even made the kluten all by herself. She could not have gotten the grades that she did without your assistance. Hiring you to work with Cassie was one of the best investments I’ve made!
–Suzanne Barba

“…everyone is professional, knowledgeable, courteous. A first class organization….Thank You.” 
— Mike Coumatos

“I was so pleased with my daughter’s experience with Back to Basics tutoring for the SAT. My daughter improved her score in Math SAT from the PSAT by over 200 points. Not only was she instructed in the math skills she needed to improve her score, but she also was instructed in general test taking strategies which helped in all of the sections of the test. I highly recommend Back to Basics SAT tutoring.” 
— Sheila Mangan

“Ms. Lantz was a great tutor for our daughter. We had a wonderful experience. Our daughter’s confidence in math has gone up tremendously. We would definitely recommend Back to Basics to our friends.”
–Mia LaFazia

“Joy’s [SAT] scores went up almost 200 points in the short time Bob worked with her, and she got her Writing and English scores up to a level that she had good choices for colleges. She was just accepted at Syracuse in the Economics Department. Your help in getting us help for her at the 11th hour helped make that possible.”
–Kathy Steiner

“I have never before used the services of any tutor, however, I must tell you what an exceptional experience it has been to have Miss Keren work with our son Matthew. Keren is very warm, kind, patient, and effective teacher. Keren has gone above and beyond what I would expect any tutor to do. My son has made incredible progress since he has been working with her. Keren has been able to have Matthew do things for her when no one else could. My son has autism and a very short attention span. He gets frustrated very easily and will either have a tantrum or give up in tears. From the very first day Matthew began working with Karen he was like a different child. Karen has been able to have him work for up to 4 hours in a session with only very minimal breaks. Matthew has not once had a tantrum or showed any signs of frustration and is always happy to see her when she comes to work with him. Keren even attended my son’s IEP meeting with me to help advocate for what we all believed what was best for him…Keren truly is an exceptional person and teacher and I could never ask anyone for more than that.”
— Lori Newcomer

My daughter loves the one on one attention and [Back to Basics’ tutor] Winn makes learning fun! 
Michele Harra

“Mr. Duffy was an excellent match for Peter. He understood Peter’s limitations, discussed Peter’s limitations with teachers, and was able to have Peter’s assignment in history changed to something he could handle. Nobody had ever done that before.”
–Rene McCartney

“Dave Powers is a great asset to Clem’s learning style. He is on target with his instruction and he’s a great support! In addition to my gratitude, I give him an A++!”
— Parent of a Back to Basics 1-on-1 tutoring student

“Just wanted to drop a quick note and let you know the Krystina raised her reading score from 560 to 720 and her writing score from 610 to 760 after 16 hours of reading tutoring. This has opened up multiple scholorship opportunities for her. Her SAT went from an 1880 to a 2190, and her ACT went from a 28 to a 33. Many thanks for the tutor she had. Definately well worth the investment. She already has a full tuition + scholorship to Alabama.”
— Parent of a Back to Basics SAT Prep student

“We wanted to let you know how pleased and appreciative we are regarding Sean’s progress during this school year.

Sean’s academic growth in all subject areas has been a true delight to witness and simultaneously has caused his self-confidence to soar. He enjoys the challenges of his school days, is proud to be learning a second language, and eagerly completes home assignments.

The staff has been wonderful in recognizing Sean’s learning strengths, while also helping him grow enormously in the areas in which he previously struggled. He is now a motivated learner and truly happy with the social approach of the program this year.

John and I extend a heartfelt thanks to you and your entire staff. We highly recommend the program every chance we get. Bravo!”
— Eileen O’Shaughnessy-Coleman

“It was June of our daughter’s sophomore year in high school and we didn’t know where to send her for her junior year. We could not work with the public school system to get our daughter some of the special needs that she required. A half a semester at a private school was equally frustrating. The teachers and staff were not capable of dealing with a child that did not fit the mold.

When I called Back to Basics to ask about tutoring, I was put through to Beverly. What a godsend! She understood what we had experienced in the traditional school systems and I know we had found the right place. The entire staff was very supportive. The teachers were excellent and really boosted our daughter’s self-esteem. The attention, nurturing and education she received were phenomenal. Our daughter completed both her junior and senior years at Back to Basics and even received significant scholarships from four different colleges.”
— Parent of a Back to Basics K-12 Private School student (name withheld upon request)

“Thank you from myself and my grandson. After a previous experience with another tutor program, I found Back to Basics very relaxing, and the tutor very comforting. My grandson totally loved the experience at your office and his tutor.”
— Cynthia Stewart

“Thank you for the wonderful work you are doing with our son. We are thrilled to see his self-confidence returning and his grades improving. It is a relief to know he’s getting the best help possible. If you ever need someone to talk with parents about the quality of your services, I hope you’ll call on us.”
— Charlene Bradley

“Both of my sons attended Back to Basics. I thought you might like to know that one now has a Doctor of Physical Therapy degree and the other is a Management Information Systems graduate… I feel part of the success they have enjoyed is due directly to the instruction they received from Back to Basics.”
— Mrs. Cook

“My comments apply to all of Henry’s teachers. They’ve been wonderfully supportive and terrific with him. He is very happy there.”
— J. Mette

“Both of our sons have been fortunate enough to work with all the wonderful staff whose warmth and caring has brought out the best in them. The have learned more at Back to Basics than they could have possibly learned in any other school. The opportunity to choose their own courses made learning an enjoyable experience for them.”
— Mr. and Mrs. Davis

“Just wanted to share with you how proud Angel is of his report card. He has shown it to the neighbor (one of the heads at Wilmington Friends), his tennis coach, his therapist, and my parents. He now has his own copy in his bag. Watching Angel share the results of his work is like one of those credit card commercials – priceless!”
— Curt and Jackie (Back to Basics Private School parents)

“His attitude towards school is completely changing around. He realizes teachers care and are truly interested in his future success.” 
— Mrs. Scalia (Back to Basics Private School parent)

“On behalf of our family, I am writing to both commend and thank you for the tutoring service you provided to our grandson David. With the help of Sonia Hewitt, David received an award at graduation as the most improved student. He ended 9th grade with mostly D’ and F’s. He graduated with all A’s! Sonia communicated his progress and needs to us and Angie always responded to my concerns as well. Continue your good work.”
— Anna E. Krall

” I sent [tutor] Gerald a thank you email because I wanted to let him know how much I appreciated him helping my daughter. When Gerald took over my daughter had a 69 avg. So it was no small feat to end the last marking period with an 82. My only regret is that he did take over sooner. In my opinion Back to Basics has some of the best teachers my daughter has ever had.” 
— Jim T.

TEACHER REVIEWS

“[Back to Basics’ tutor] Sharon does a great job. She has worked with the cadets for three years now and they love her. They see true value and definitely feel that she helps them a lot.” 
— Delaware Military Academy

“I found the staff cooperative and someone was always available to answer any question I may have had. It made my job easier as the program coordinator not to have to worry about the quality of the tutors or to supply any needed substitutes. Working with Back to Basics and Beverly Stewart has been one of the better educational experiences I have had during the 35 years I spent working in an elementary school.”
— Lorayne Titter, Program Coordinator, Extended Day

“As a teacher, I know that when I recommend parents to Back to Basics, they will be pleased with what they have to offer to meet the needs of their child.”
— Ms. Madson

STUDENT REVIEWS

“I have been loyal supporter of Back To Basics for more than two decades!” 
— Italo Carrieri-Russo

“Back to Basics had a real challenge in teaching me a foreign language. As a University of Delaware student in her mid-sixties, they enabled me to receive a B+ each semester by providing excellent instruction. They listen to your needs concerning the time and place that is best for you to learn; they act on that need to match you with an excellent instructor and then, to keep their standards high, they ask for your feedback. Whether a person is six or sixty, I am confident that Back to Basics will make it enjoyable to learn.”
— Judy Harper

“Thank you for letting me come back to the greatest school on earth. You set me up with all the things that I needed and it worked out wonderfully. It helped get me where I needed to be.”
— Michael Lester, Back to Basics Private School Student

“I intend to put a “TOP” score in each area! Thank you for the Praxis I pre-writing assignment tips. I went from a failing score to a 176. The passing score is 173. You guys are great!”
— Samuel Mencher

“I would highly recommend Back to Basics to anyone who is struggling with any particular topic in any level of education. I was finishing up my degree at a local college and needed to pass a class in “Inferential Statistics” in order to graduate. I realized I wasn’t doing well and I needed help…

“Everyone here is so nice. It’s better than regular school, because with one-on-one you get a lot more attention. My grades are good and I find it more challenging than regular school.”
— Callie S., Back to Basics Private School Student
I worked with one of their staff who sent weekly e-mail updates to my college professor. He created a comfortable atmosphere in which I learned the basics of “Inferential Statistics.” I passed the class and graduated from a local college…with honors. This would not have been possible without Back to Basics.” 
— Brian J. Crowley

 

TUTOR & STAFF REVIEWS

“For more than ten years, I have had the privilege of working in an educational institution which embraces high academic standards and lovingly tells every student who walks through the door that success is within their grasp. I have witnessed countless student transformations focused not just on academic achievement, but self-esteem and awareness that learning is a lifelong process. The compassionate and dedicated staff led by a tireless and respected leader has come to be synonymous with excellence and success. I am honored to be part of the Back to Basics Learning Dynamics family.”
— Elizabeth Roberts, Instructor

“I have been an instructor of mathematics, physics, and chemistry at Back to Basics for 11 years. In that time, I have had the pleasure of instructing over 300 students in a 1-on-1 format. My students have thrived with the individual attention. I have witnessed their blooming confidence and enjoyment in being able to learn effectively. For me, each student’s instruction has been a unique journey. It feels good knowing I have definitely made a significant contribution to each student’s education and well-being.”
— Dave Power, Tutor

“For the past several years, I have had the honor of representing Back to Basics Learning Dynamics as a tutor, interpreter, and translator. Whether inspiring a love for Spanish in the hearts of students through one-on-one tutoring, bridging communication gaps at parent-teacher conferences, or producing high-quality translations of critical documents, I have enjoyed a sense of purpose and happiness in meeting the standards of academic excellence that Beverly and the Back to Basics family have been demonstrating since 1985. I am grateful to be a part of the family and for the opportunities for professional growth that I’ve enjoyed as a result. These experiences have enhanced my individual performance, expanded my cultural awareness, and deepened my knowledge in the fields of education and translation. Whether working locally or remotely, Back to Basics has been the best career choice for me.”
— Luz E. Digsby, Tutor, Interpreter and Translator

“I have been a tutor, translator and interpreter at Back to Basics for 14 years. Back to Basics began small in a crowded field of translating and interpreting but today has a large portion of the market in Delaware in schools, hospitals, medical facilities and government agencies. I am proud to have played a small part in providing services to international families who need our services. I believe that such services are not only necessary but helpful to the families as well as the institution. Beverly has set a high bar of professionalism and skill attainment for her tutors, translators and interpreters to meet. She has provided certification opportunities as well as professional development so that each translator and interpreter has the best and highest skills he/she has the possibility of attaining. I am happy to be part of an organization that is at once so professional but also so caring. ” 
— Sara Nehra, Tutor, Interpreter and Translator

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