Monday, August 6, 2012

Homework Help Articles

I get a Google alert every day so that I can keep up on what is being said about homework around the world. It was quiet last month, but I see the volume of articles on the rise. First, there are articles addressing the anxieties caused by undone summer homework. Second, there are articles preparing parents for the coming year. For today's blogpost, I'm going to reference an article I read entitled "Homework Hassle: When Kids Struggle and Parents Can't Help." The article focuses on the fact that curricula changes over time and that many parents are not familiar with the material itself, or the ways in which the material is taught. Hey, I'm all for educational innovation, and if teachers are finding new and better ways to present math or science, or whatever kids need to learn, that's great. But the article accepts the assumption that parents need to be up-to-date on what teachers are teaching their children. It goes so far as to suggest that many teachers will help tutor the parent in the lessons so that they can be of greater help to their children.

The article acts as if the notion that the parent is an intermediary between the teacher and the child, and needs instruction and supervision about how to execute that role. I think we should seriously question that idea. Parents are authorities, and in fact, the people kids count on most to be in charge of their homes. Parents have a wide range of interests and talents, but they are uniformly the first ones kids look up to. Parents teach valuable lessons to their children everyday regarding values, and relationships, and how to have fun. Parents model for children what to do when the sink is clogged up, even if they don't happen to be plumbers by trade. They teach kids to think for themselves and to exercise judgment in everyday matters. Between their jobs, and their interests, and their relationships with their kids, why would we think it is important for parents to now become academic teachers as well?

If a child does not "get it," in class, then the teacher, as a professional, needs to consider using his or her skills to help that child learn. That's what teachers are paid to do.

As many of my readers know, I have three children who are grown, two quite successful at school, one homework-trapped. I was a far better parent with my school-successful kids, not because I was a particularly great parent, but I was an extremely centered parent. The kids knew who I was, for better or worse. I chipped in here and there, when asked or when I thought it was truly needed. They learned a lot from me, and I can see it in their adult behaviors that they've picked up on strategies that took me years to figure out for myself. But for my youngest, the homework-trapped child, it was misguided and a waste of time, taking on for myself responsibility for extending the school day into my home.





Dr. Kenneth Goldberg is a clinical psychologist with 35 years of professional experience in dealing with many different psychological issues. He is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students and Teachers and currently works in his own private practice.

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What is The Homework Trap?
A Roadmap to Success
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