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Accurately Filling Out Forms: A Lost Skill?

There are some fundamental skills students need to learn that aren’t normally taught in school. On several occasions through the years, I have been responsible for collecting forms for an event such as a field trip. Typically, the forms ask for specific information such as the student’s name, address, and telephone number, as well as a person to contact in the event of an emergency. Students often select from a list of choices and sign the form stating they are aware of safety concerns. Normally, the parent or guardian also needs to sign the form. I am always surprised at the number of middle and high school students who do not correctly fill out the forms. They forget to fill in important information or forget to get the appropriate signatures. Additionally, they fail to meet the deadline for turning in the form.

While these forms may seem trivial, they are not. Teachers spend hours going through them before taking a field trip with students. They make phone calls, email parents, and look up the missing information. More important, these skills are necessary when filling out a job application or an application to college. Because jobs are scarce, a mistake like leaving out information can make the difference in whether an applicant is considered for the job or not. And it would be a shame to miss getting into a specific college because the application is not complete!

As a parent, you can help. Your child should fill out these forms himself. If he does not know specific information, rather than telling him, suggest where he might find the information. Teach him that he should not sign his name without reading what he is signing. Encourage him to write legibly (including his signature). And tell him that every piece of information must be filled out even when it requires him to do some research to find it.

It can be a nuisance to have to fill out forms for school events, but think of it as a teaching opportunity. The skills are important even though it might not seem so at the moment!


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