Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Whose Work Is It?

As another school year ends it’s time to reflect upon subjects mastered and progress made. For me one issue doesn’t change throughout the year. How much homework help should parents provide? Do the teachers want parents to correct errors? Provide instruction? Or just to ensure that work is completed?

My husband and I have never done our son’s homework. Although classroom bulletin boards prove that all families do not agree with this approach. I can’t be the only person who notices. Surely the faculty knows that little Suzie isn’t capable of astrophysics. I hear that these days teachers are afraid to discourage parents from spoiling the “I did it all by myself!” experience for their students. The climate is such that teachers are seen as nannies and not as educational professionals who are in charge of their domain. But that’s another blog post.

Back to the homework question, we don’t abandon our kid. We’re available to guide but do not give answers. The rule is that he must try to solve a problem a few times before asking for help. If he really can’t grasp a concept, he writes the teacher a note soliciting a tutorial. We quiz and provide test review but he has to do the work.

Long-term projects are not a family affair. We listen to project ideas and buy material but our days of making dioramas, puppets and poster boards are long over. Since when did school projects have to be union certified? What’s wrong with dried glue globs and crooked scissor cuts? There’s a quiet, size appropriate work environment in our home, equipped with all of the elementary school desk requisites. Isn’t that enough?

I delude myself by saying that because of our method eventually our son will be more work independent than some of his peers. The goal is for him to reap the satisfaction of knowing how to navigate academics. However, there are college co-eds who “consult” parents about their papers and get over with good grades. Producing a better student isn’t why we continue torturing (his word) our kid. I’ve come to realize that the self-reliance lesson is enough. It’s like doing the right thing in any part of life. There may be no earthly reward but it sure feels good.

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