"It's not what you expect, it's what you inspect."
It was a light bulb moment when I first heard this phrase many years ago.
I had many expectations for my children:
Expectations about chores.
Expectations about behavior.
Expectations about schoolwork.
Expectations about personal hygiene.
I would make chore charts and school schedules; award stickers for being kind and brushing teeth.
But...the expectation that they would look at those charts and schedules and follow through consistently did me no good if I did not inspect consistently.
This is true not only for young children, but also for teenagers, and for myself.
In December, I helped my teenager clean her room (not for the first time) and told her I expected her to keep her room and bathroom clean.
Had I told her that before? Of course I had. Obviously, the expectations did not work because we were doing a deep clean once again.
It is now the end of January and her room and bathroom are still clean. What made the difference?
I told her I would randomly inspect her bedroom and bathroom. I provided a checklist that is posted on the inside of her closet door. She is old enough that I do not feel like I need to inspect daily. I told her I would inspect it and whenever that happens, it should pass inspection. If it doesn't pass inspection, her social activities will be curtailed.
So far, inspecting has provided more consistent results than expecting.
Over the years, I have heard more than one homeschool convention speaker tell how their high school student fell behind in a subject (usually math) because the parent assumed the student was doing the work, and by the time the parent got around to checking the work, they discovered nothing had been done for a whole semester.
This is easy to do with high school students as we should be giving them more responsibility for their work. However, it does prove the expecting/inspecting principle.
Even for myself, I know my doctor has expectations that I will follow a good diet and exercise program to keep my blood sugar under control. Most of the time I do, but if the doctor wasn't going to inspect every six months with a blood test, I would be tempted to slack off. Knowing the inspection is coming helps me stay compliant.
As parents and/or home educators,
Don't set expectations for your children that you are not willing to inspect.
If I tell my children that certain chores must be done by a certain time, but then I do not inspect to make sure it is done, they will soon think having those chores done by that time is not important.
If I tell my student I expect an assignment to be turned in on a certain day, they need to know I am serious about the deadline; that I am going to inspect it.
Do you find this to be true in your home, school, or job?
It's not what you expect, it's what you inspect.