Thursday, October 2, 2014

Maternal Reflections: I Don't Help my Children with Their Homework

Ok, so I should probably clarify that statement just a bit. It isn't that I don't help my children with their homework. I just don't hold their hands and sit with them, watching them step by step and doing it for them everyday. I see so many of my friends who say homework time is such a challenge for them because they can't help their child with what they have to do. Why do we often assume as parents that they don't know how to do it? Why do we believe that if we can't do it, then they can't possibly understand it either?

Today's children are growing up in a fast paced, technology driven world and I believe that the educational system is adapting to meet those needs. It is a slow process and I would say that the transitional phase will last a while. Unfortunately, many of our current elementary and middle school students are caught in the gap between the old way of learning and the new way of teaching. As a learner of the old way, we are often hard pressed as parents to understand the new ways of teaching. College students currently seeking Education Degrees are doing so under a much different curriculum and skill set than when I received mine; and when a lot of current teachers received theirs. I don't know that I would want to be a teacher now, or if I would want to "learn how to be a teacher" now either because I do believe that for as hard as we try, my generation (X, Y...or whatever those of us who peaked educationally in the 90's are called) is often unable to keep up with the speeding train of computer based, technology centered, "Common Core" train that is whisking our children away.

This doesn't mean that our children are doomed to failure because we can't keep up. I believe that our children are much smarter than we give them credit for in many ways. Children have a genuine desire to learn, and they often thrive in highly challenging areas. Video game developers, toy makers and entertainment industry insiders are aware of this and capitalize on it when developing their products. They know, probably better than we do, that our children have the ability to coordinate thought and action much quicker than we realize. I know that both of my boys have quite the video game collection; but not once have they ever required help or instruction in how to play them. They turn them on; and they figure it out as they go.

The same is true for most of the homework they bring home. Everyday, I ask the same questions: "Do you have homework?" If the answer is yes, the next them I ask is, "Do you need help or can you do it on your own?" Most of the time they tell me they can do it on their own. They sit at the table and they do it.  Occasionally, they will have a question and not understand something, and I'm always available to help if asked. When they ask for help, however, I always ask them "What did you learn in school today?" or "How did your teacher show you how to do it?" Usually with a little push back to the day's lesson and activities in the classroom they remember how to do it all on their own. I believe that by allowing my children the time and opportunity to do their homework independently that I am preparing them for better academic success and therefore stronger future in society.

What are your thoughts? How do you handle homework time in your house? I'd love to hear from you, so leave me a comment! or visit me on Facebook and share your thoughts there.

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