Monday, February 8, 2010

How Much Homework Help Should Parents Give Kids

Children are assigned homework to help reinforce lessons they learned in school. Sometimes, if those lessons didn’t sink in, the kids will struggle to complete the homework without a teacher helping. In that case, if the parent can help, that is in the child’s best interest. Projects, however, are another story.

We assigned our three year olds the task of creating a bed for the stuffed doll they made in class. Some of the children obviously made it themselves, with crayons, stickers, and bangles adorning a shoe box. Other children worked side-by-side with Mom, in which case the beds were a bit more elaborate. And then there were ones where the parents completed the task without the child’s help.

One such child was Robin. Robin’s box was gorgeous – a bed fit for a doll princess. It had beautiful fabric glued to the outside, ribbon handles sewn on, and even a nightlight to keep the doll safe at night! When Robin showed me her box, I asked her if she and her mommy made it together. “No, Mommy made it all by herself!” she announced.

Standing nearby, her mother told us that she always gave her sister grief for doing her kids’ science projects for them. Now, she realized she was turning into her sister. I certainly don’t mind when a parent helps a child with a project like this. If they work together, it can be a wonderful bonding experience. They can enjoy each other’s company and input, and have fun talking about what a baby might need in her bed. They can reminisce about when the child was a baby, and make the experience positive.

I don’t, however, think that parents should do their children’s projects for them, at any age. That is a child’s responsibility and the only way she will learn how to do things for herself. Lending a guiding hand can provide valuable lessons, but the bulk of the work must be the students.

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