Families grow stronger when parents place the responsibility for homework squarely on the shoulders of their children. Parents should show interest in the homework brought home by their children as well as be available for support, but they should also insist that the children do their own homework.
As a parent, I tried to instill in my children that school was their responsibility and their "job" just as going to the office was their father's job and caring for the home was my job. I emphasized the importance of learning and insisted that they take their school work as seriously as their father and I took our jobs. All of my children turned out to be good students, most of them graduating from high school with honors and all of them graduating from universities. Their achievements belong to them, and they feel good about them.
Family psychologist John Rosemond recently wrote about how the responsibility for homework has changed in the past forty years. He explained that in 1971 parents rarely helped their children with homework and "scholastic achievement was significantly higher than it is today." He also stated that "when parents did not render regular assistance with homework, children emancipated more successfully and much earlier than is the case today."
"There is no evidence that actual achievement is enhanced through parental involvement in homework. After all, achievement has gone down as parental involvement has gone up."
When parents help with homework, it is difficult to determine who really earns the grade - the parent or the child. "In the process of all this involvement, kids fail to learn basic study skills, are deprived of the inestimable benefits of trial-and-error and become increasingly dependent on parental help as parents, now heavily invested, become increasingly anxious about grades and take them as a sign of their own competence."
Parents should insist that teachers do their teaching during school hours with minimal help from home. "I know of no other professional group that expects other people to help them with their job and not be paid for it.
"The upshot of all this is that many college students are doing homework with their parents over the phone and online nearly every night, and many college professors have felt the wrath of parents who do not accept the grades they feel they and their children deserve.
"And employers even tell me that many of today's young people cannot seem to make independent decisions without consulting - guess who?"
I remember a time when I had several children attending elementary school. During the period of one week, I helped one child make a paper mache muskrat, another child make a wire bicycle, and a third child do another project. Apparently, a number of parents complained to the principal of the school because he sent letters home at the end of the week requesting input from parents about the amount of homework expected of the children. I let the principle know in no uncertain terms that I had more important things to do than the projects brought home by my children and that, if teachers wanted the children to do those projects, they should allow time during school hours. I noticed that the ridiculous projects stopped coming home.
It is only by learning through small daily tasks and responsibilities that children can gain the knowledge and experience they need to progress. In order for children to grow and develop into independent and responsible adults, teachers and parents must allow and expect children to do their own homework and be responsible for returning it for grading.
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