Sunday, August 26, 2012

Homework advice columns and parenting authority

I like what Dr. Edwards says at the end of his article that is reported in US News Health Report, Making Parental Peace with Kids’Homework, “School is important but so is the relationship you have with your child. Don't let homework become an issue that harms that relationship,” but think that there is a missing step between his advice and this recommendation that needs to be considered. His advice involves good, standard-fare pointers about what to do in the home: Find a good spot to do homework, pick a regular homework time, help the child develop a homework strategy, help the child address assignments one at a time, and provide support without hovering unnecessarily. The advice includes instilling good habits like writing assignments down in well-organized homework assignment books. Great if it works, but what if it does not?

The missing piece is the need for the parents to have full ownership of the home. As long as teachers have the final say about what has to be done in the home, we have a problem. Consider how teachers relate to each other. Does the math teacher tell the gym teacher how to address the child who is not able to do a somersault? Does the English teacher tell the math teacher what to do with the child who was given a worksheet to complete in class and was only able to get half of it done in the allotted time? The answer is no. Teachers respect the decisions and individual integrity of their colleagues in making those decisions. But if you follow Dr. Edwards’ good advice and your child gets half of the work done in what you consider a reasonable homework session for your child’s age, who, at that point, makes the decision about how he’ll get graded and whether the work must get done?

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