Should we help with our children’s homework?

 

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Those were the days! My kids had piano practice in addition to homework.

The school year has begun and for many parents, that means evenings spent with the onerous task of getting their kids to do their homework. Plus, parents are transporting their kids to sports, dance, music or other whatever activities their kids may be enrolled in. With busy, hectic schedules, we may want to help out with homework to make life easier.

 

I have only one memory of my parents helping me with my homework—it was a map for a geography class. Other than that, I was on my own. My mom had a rule that we had to get our work done before we played—so I was pretty good at getting things done so I’d have free time.

These days, many schools want parents to get involved and have a “parental portal” so they exactly what is expected for homework. My kids’ elementary school had a “homework hotline” and every afternoon we’d listen to it together. Is all this helping and communicating with mom and dad helpful or hurting our kids?

One parent was feeling “between a rock and hard place” with the instructions from their children’s school. In a parenting advice column in the Fort Wayne, IN News Sentinel a parent asked:

“…In addition, the “Parent Portal,” as it’s called, also lets us know what we are expected to help with at home. In effect, we are being made responsible for what, in our estimation, is a teacher’s responsibility. We are expected to know the material, monitor homework, and see to it that every assignment is not only done, but done properly.”

Here’s part of the answer written by a family psychologist John Rosemond in his parenting column called “Parent portal source of angst for parents:”

“…A very good friend of mine with three school-age children says, ‘These parent portals bring a whole new level of crazy to parental over-involvement.’ From the get-go, my friend let her children know that they were wholly responsible for their homework assignments and that their job was to make sure she and their father never had to get involved.

“These parent homework portals take advantage of ubiquitous parent anxiety — borne largely by mothers who seem to think that their children’s grades reflect the quality of their parenting — regarding school achievement and successfully turn many parents/moms into micromanaging enablers. In so doing, teachers transfer a significant amount of responsibility for academic instruction to the home.

“It is a fact without exceptions that enabling weakens. In this case, it weakens a child’s sense of personal responsibility and is, therefore, self-fulfilling. The more the parent enables, the more enabling the child in question seems to need. “I can’t!” becomes a frequent complaint.”

You may question why the schools are doing this? Why are they making crazy parents lives even crazier? One reason according to Rosemond is the standardized testing. Schools want to see good test scores and getting parents involved ensures better results.

My question is this, why do schools care more about test scores than the development of our children?

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Swim practice six days a week and meets kept them busy!

I Couldn’t Wait for the Kids to Come Home

imagesI was looking forward to Thanksgiving weekend so much! I couldn’t wait to have both my kids home, together. I cleaned their rooms, washed their sheets, polished their furniture.

I shopped for turkey, stuffing, potatoes and all the trimmings. I baked a pumpkin pie. I was so excited and the days dragged until the day before Thanksgiving finally arrived. First, my son came in at ten at night. He looked great! I fell asleep before the midnight flight that carried my daughter.

Thanksgiving day was a blast. I cooked a delicious dinner. We had grandpa over and after we ate, we laughed and talked as we walked around the neighborhood. My kids were in a great mood, and I loved being with them.IMG_2814

But, by Friday, I found myself constantly picking and cleaning up after them. I carried dishes and glasses from the kids’ bedrooms into the kitchen. The sink always had dishes stacked in it, no matter how often I loaded the dishwasher. My once lonely washing machine had a constant load.

I got tired. Wow! This taking care of family is a lot harder than I had remembered.

images-4My kids were busy. Not with me. My son had tons of reading and a paper to write. My daughter had homework to do also, but she was off every minute to visit friends.

My husband and I sat together, alone in the house.

I kind of felt like the cat. Olive is my daughter’s kitty. Olive was so excited to have her person home, she went on a wild spree of hunting, bringing in birds to my daughter’s bedroom. She even left her a bird in her suitcase. When Olive wasn’t hunting she was glued to my daughter’s side — when my daughter was home.

The weekend ended, the kids left. I sighed. My first Thanksgiving after three months of an empty nest was not what I expected. I am thankful for my family. But, I learned that it’s also nice to not have the day-to-day responsibility of cleaning and caring for kids.

And once again, Olive is content to hang out with me.IMG_6037