THINK Primary #2 | Responsibility

RESPONSIBILITY – Why it is such an important learner habit and how to develop it.

We teach children that responsibility is doing things that are expected of us and accepting the consequences of our actions. Making positive choices is an important part of this habit.


What is responsibility?

The noun responsibility comes from the Latin verb ‘respondere’ meaning ‘to respond’.

We asked our teachers and children to dig deeper and think about what responsibility means to them. Here are 9 statements from some of our Year 5 & 6 classes:

Do you agree or disagree with these statements? How would you order them in terms of importance?


What does Responsibility look like when we talk about learning?

We expect children to:

  • ask and answer questions to deepen their understanding
  • know how to listen to their teacher and classmates
  • know what resources will help them for a task and where to find them
  • know what to do when they are stuck on a task, such as The 5 B’s or Ask 4 before me:

Brain – If you are not sure, think about it first, try to work out the answer on your own!

Board – If you are still stuck, look at the board. There is usually a clue there.

Book – If you are still stuck, is there a book which could help you?

Buddy – Still not sure? Ask your ‘buddy’, they might know. Your learning partner is always there to help you.

Boss – If they don’t know either, chances are lots of people are confused. This is now the time to ask your teacher for help!


  • use their time wisely
  • be prepared to look back over their learning to spot mistakes they have made and find ways to improve it
  • ask for, listen to and act upon advice from others
  • be honest about what they find difficult
  • know how to share and work with others
  • help other children when they need it
  • want to get better
  • make decisions for themselves
  • be kind and look after each other


Responsibility from an early age:

The very first responsibilities for young children are all about looking after themselves; feeding themselves, getting dressed, putting things away, tidying up bedrooms and so on. Sometimes it might seem easier, cleaner, quicker, and less frustrating to do these things for them, but we need to resist jumping in.

Children who are not used to looking after themselves at home often struggle at school. They become overly reliant on someone being there to do things for them.


Ways you can help your child become responsible:

  • Create a chart together of the tasks they need to do at home, including getting organised for the following school day
  • Frequently refer to this chart and insist that they stick to it, so they get used to it.
  • Stick to routines – organisation is key to becoming responsible
  • Give them little household chores to do each day or week, e.g. setting the table, making their bed etc.
  • Create a workspace where your child can do their home learning independently
  • Allow them to make mistakes in their learning and life – focus on what they can learn from these mistakes – That is what a responsible learner does
  • Model responsibility at home. Talk about your own responsibilities
  • Explicitly praise children for being responsible
  • Create (age-appropriate) choices for your child (The ability to make choices gives a sense of control and influence over what is happening in their life)