Role of parents in children’s homework
How much time parents around the world spend helping their children with their homework was measured in a survey. Not surprisingly, in the competitive Indian academic environment, parents spend 12 hours every week - the highest recorded and almost three hours more than the next highest that is about two hours each day for six days.
Is it because parents in India are making up for lack of attention paid by teachers in crowded classrooms or are we too obsessed about or children and their education?
According to some experts, this is because Indian parents are over-possessive. They do not want their children to take a risk or make mistakes. They said it also had to do with the Indian education system relying on rote learning rather than based on thought.
No matter what is the reason, we know that we are among the world's keenest parents to spend time with our children on schoolwork and are also the most optimistic about education standards in our country.
The relationship our children develop with school (and yes, it is a relationship) begins as soon as they enter their first classroom. We might have arguments and debates that home works are not good for children or are good for children.
But the fact remains that school work and homework play an important part in our child’s first decisions concerning their education and our role in their education. If we want our kids to invest in their education, then we have to allow them to take on the responsibility of managing their school and homework.
Here are some suggestions on how to stay involved, without taking over.
Tip #1: Set clear and reasonable expectations for both you and the kids.
- We will require the kids set aside few minutes to hours for homework or reading. If the kids choose to noodle away their time, then we will bite our tongues and let the natural consequences do the teaching.
Obviously, as the kids get older you can revisit this issue and decide how much time they need to complete school work so you can accommodate that in to their busy schedules.
- We will ask the kids about their classwork, homework and projects, but will not demand that they inform us.
If the kids choose to share, we will keep our opinions to a minimum and if the kids choose not to share, we will respect their decision.
The more you can promote their independence in this area, the quicker they will learn the lessons that will help them take responsibility for their learning.
- We will provide a place for the kids to do homework but understand that they might not all use the space as we intended.
- We will offer our assistance if we see the kids struggle, but we will not monitor their homework or demand they let us check their work.
After all, homework is supposed to help the teacher assess the students in her class and if you help too much, the teacher isn’t getting accurate information.
If our kids choose not to do their homework, we will support the school’s consequences which might include a loss of recess time or staying after school or taking a zero on the assignment or project.
We will do our best to help the kids create healthy study habits but will not jeopardize our relationship with them by forcing the issue.
We will remember that the mistakes our kids make when they are young teach them valuable lessons when the stakes are low. They will grow to understand the importance of investing in their education as they grow and mature.
Tip 2: Take into account Your Child’s Style as it pertains to homework.
Consider the following:
- Some kids need to take a break
- Some kids need to stay at it until they break through the frustration
- Some kids need to engage in some physical activity to allow their brain to relax and refocus before returning to their studies
- Some kids need to plug into their ipods or a TV or a computer game and go inside themselves to reenergize and refocus.
Many kids are beginning to identify the subjects that are difficult for them and subjects that come easy. This may lead them in a direction of study later on in their lives. It will certainly help them navigate the rest of their lives if they understand these key indicators of what interests them and what doesn’t.
Remember your kids are developing important life skills and taking responsibility for their own homework is the perfect place to allow these skills to blossom.
It is more important that our kids learn how to become organized, manage their time, problem solve, accept responsibility and build confidence in their ability to make choices and navigate their education, than it is to get perfect marks on their assignments.
(The author is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Learning Arena, an e-learning company)