But I WANT to do Your Homework


Read it and weep, helicopter parents: “Helping” (ahem) with your children’s homework could actually drive down their test scores and grades.

In a New York Times Opinion piece, Judith Newman writes “How I found myself justifying my career to a 12-year old was this: I wanted him to ace his ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ essay, and I was nervous…I knew what this essay needed.” Newman also reveals “He got a 73. I got a 73.”

Of course we all want out children to get into Ivy League schools and be class valedictorian. But our well intended efforts with assuming too large a role in homework help can easily backfire as we are not allowing our kids to explore their own range of creativity.

I remember my son having to do a project and presentation for his Chinese class. (Certainly couldn’t help him there). Instead of writing a paper on the Ming Dynasty or the Great Wall of China, he took out our video camera and played multiple characters in a mock mystery film noir – all spoken in Chinese. His grade: A! His very original concept.

There is the other side of the coin. Parents may want to help with homework but either are not interested in the subject or they find the fifth-grade math curriculum too complicated. These parents have wisely stepped back. But they should not step too far back.

As with many parenting hats we wear, parents have to find the right balance. Parents can help by making sure the child understands the homework assignment, “suggesting” corrections for spelling or grammatical errors and making sure the assignment is complete. It’s then up to him or her to turn it in!

Newman later observes that there is yet another factor that prompts a certain kind of parent to take on a kid’s homework: For those of us who were good students, it’s a chance to relive our glory days. It’s the nerd equivalent of the soccer dad barking orders to his kid on the fields.

Newman’s own epiphany arrived when she confessed her homework transgressions to the school principal. “Being wrong is part of the process of understanding,” he said. “Going out on a limb, being willing to take a chance, is a critical skill not just for homework, but for life.” He couldn’t be more correct.

Kids, in doing homework or simply navigating everyday life, learn by making mistakes. As parents we can only guide them and be there if they ASK for help.

Read the entire article at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/22/opinion/sunday/helping-kids-with-homework.html?_r=1