If you help your kids with their homework are you are giving them an unfair advantage or are you just being a parent?
I did my son’s homework for him last night. There was maths, a little spelling and a book to read. I didn’t do ALL of it, of course but I was there. I helped, I made suggestions. I even promised him a reward if he did a bit extra.
Tiger Mum? Maybe, but I don’t have a problem with that.
It seems though that others do have a problem with me helping my kids however. A series of “experts“ have recently come out saying that parents should stop assisting their kids at homework time.
Associate Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Sydney and author of Reforming Homework, Richard Walker has told News Limited that parents need to “pull back.”
“If parents are over controlling and interfering then that really has a negative effect,” Professor Walker said.
“Some involvement is good for self-directed learning, but if they get too involved and the kid loses their autonomy then it becomes a problem. I think parents have to pull back.”
Well we’d all like that wouldn’t we?
But it’s just not as simple as it sounds.
My five-year old has just entered the world of sight words and dog-eared readers complete with gripping story lines like “I like blue ice cream”. He has news tasks to prepare and present, and maths programs to complete on the computer.
Given this is a kid who would blindly walk out the door naked if I didn’t remind him to put on some clothing, “leaving him to it” just isn’t an option.
His seven-year old brother has to be either handcuffed to the kitchen table – or sweetly bribed M&M by M&M – to fill in his homework sheets. By their sides, I sit gritting my teeth wearily working through each step with them. (Tiger Mums – hear me roar.)
I’d be happy to “pull back.” But if I pulled back, there’s no way that homework would be done.
The most common gripe from some parents who want to “pull back” is that the parents who don’t are giving their kids a leg up – an “unfair advantage.”
(We’ve all heard the tales of Freddie’s PowerPoint presentation on the lifecycle of cicadas complete with embedded videos and interactive questions, when poor Jessica had to make do with presenting a few crushed cicada fragments stuck to a piece or cardboard. )
I recently came across one mother who made the (frankly quite frightening) admission that when her son started kindergarten last year she order takeaway for two terms so she could devote an hour from 6pm for sight words and readers.
Related content: Good news for parents whose kid refuses to do their homework.
Yeah it’s an unfair playing field, but you know what? So is life. We need to keep a bit of perspective here. This is primary school. If they don’t do their homework they won’t be expelled. What teachers expect is a child – and a family – to do their best.
The fact is any teacher worth their shiny-red-apple can spot the difference between Mum’s handy talent with a glue gun and a six-year old’s effort with Perkin’s Paste and a few paddlepop sticks and no child is going to be penalized for that.
We need to give our teachers more credit.
Homework is a fact of life. As parents we can try and back off a little but really we all just want to do the best for our child and if that means bribing them with M&Ms to learn their words, or occasionally sticking on a few paddlepop sticks ourselves then bring it on.
Do you think helping kids with their homework is over-parenting or ok?