I bit my tongue when I heard a dad of a youngster say recently that he goes over his son’s homework every night. I don’t think that is a good idea if he meant that literally. It is so sweet because it shows caring and involvement, but I think it is a better idea to go over a list of what has to be accomplished for homework, or to help with tricky questions, but to go over it categorically every night seems not so good. The idea that you might need someone smarter or bigger to give it an okay before handing it in feels like a step in sabotage even though it is so well-intentioned. I just love the idea of kids discovering that day after day their own ideas about how to do the homework generate success. It seems like a way to build confidence. Eighty percent of the time there is likely to be a problem since after all, it’s school, and he’s learning and surely there are things he gets wrong, but really to discover your power to run your own life at a young age is priceless.
Helping kids with homework is really nice, but I worry that the underlying message to our children is one of a need for perfectionism or a fear of failure. To me, the primary learning relationship is between my child and his teacher, and I am just backup, when called in. Problems in elementary school that surface are great because then you have a chance in solving them to teach whatever the school can’t. Difficult teachers, so much homework that it requires a separate education in time management, or similar life lessons were the kinds of things I wanted to talk about.
I did not check homework for my kids, but I did sit with them and review the assignment book and ask questions about what was what and when was it due and how did it go. If they wanted to show me their work, out of pride or even out of concern, I was right there, but I did not make a practice of giving my blessing to homework.
A kid’s got to hear his own voice saying he did what he was supposed to and it all turned out well.