At the end of last year, a parent told me that she was so glad the school year was over so she would not have to do hours of homework every night with her kid. Did I miss something? Am I supposed to be doing homework with my child? When did this trend begin? Back in the day (my days as a student), I did homework on my own, but now many parents seem to be overly involved with homework. I’m not referring to an occasional question on content or directions; that’s to be expected. (Sorry if it’s a math question, Brooke; you’re on your own there). Nor am I referring to children with special needs or learning disabilities. Before you pass judgement on me or dismiss me as a non-caring parent, hear me out, and remember this is from a teacher’s point of view (and a parent’s too).
Parents with good intentions are hurting their kids in the long run when they don’t let them figure out how to solve problems. Isn’t this what a good part of life is about? Homework teaches kids how to systematically solve problems, persevere in finding solutions, and provides an opportunity to develop a strong work ethic; however, students are often deprived of this practice because parents quickly jump in to help. From a cognitive perspective, an important part of learning occurs through trial and error. Students learn academically through mistakes, and with parents pushing on a nightly basis for every answer to be right, less learning actually takes place. Students also fail to learn time management techniques and study skills because over-anxious parents have the study session mapped out in advance.
While grades most likely improve, students ultimately miss out. More often than you would think, I hear from parents that their child could not have made a particular grade because they looked at, helped with, monitored, etc. the work and knew the assignment deserved an A (usually). I also see students in high school have no idea how to solve problems or think for themselves because someone is thinking for them a lot of the time. John Rosemond tells of college kids calling their parents on a nightly basis for homework help. Employers today even see a rise in young employees not being able to make decisions without consulting with someone else. And while all of this cannot be traced back to parents being hyper-involved in homework, I am convinced there’s a correlation.
But there’s a lot at stake, you say. Yes, there is – your child’s ability to reason, think, be responsible, and independent. Don’t deny him or her the opportunity to grow in these areas.
What is one step you can take to help your child be more academically independent this week?