I just read a question to an advice columnist in the Washington Post from a parent concerned she was not being a responsible parents, because she did not have time and energy to help her kindergarten child with homework. Here is my comment to her question:
To the parent of the kindergarten student who has concerns about being a responsible parent, let's start out by asking ourselves what does a 5 year old need from her parent. Five year olds are the stage of having "the best mommies and daddies in the world." They idealize their parents and need to feel secure that their parents are the ones they trust and are making decisions for them. As parents, we vary in our decision-making skills, but, the child still needs us to make the best decisions for them that we can. So, I ask the writer, what decisions have you made regarding you child doing homework? Do you want your child to be doing homework after school? How much homework do you want your child to do? Do you agree with the amount the teacher has assigned? Whatever your answer, being a "responsible" parent means making those decisions for your child, not leaving them in the hands of someone else. There are several problems with homework policy today, but, perhaps the most important one is that teachers are making decisions regarding what should take place in the parents' home. For sure, most parents will trust teachers to teach their children, and will generally follow suit with the recommendations those teachers make. But let's always make sure that homework is given with the permission of the parent, and is never allowed to override that parents' judgment. Does your child really need to do that extra assignment? Or maybe, just maybe, she'll benefit greatly from having parents who are fun, calm, and relaxed. Kenneth Goldberg, Ph.D. Author of The Homework Trap. http://www.thehomeworktrap.com/.