For years I’ve listened to moms I know tell me of their homework woes. They would share the frustration of hours upon hours spent doing homework with their children. I’ve always been respectful, I mean, this is after all their child, but inside I always viewed these statements with bemusement and confusion. Occasionally I would even question if perhaps I was doing it wrong. Could it be? Maybe I too should be sitting shoulder to shoulder with my children doing their math? Maybe I too should be proofreading their work? Helping with projects? Making sure their work is done?
For me the answer has always been pretty easy. I went to school. I did my time.
Today, I found my validation. An article in The Atlantic cites a study that pretty much says if you’re doing your kids homework with them they’re no further ahead, in fact you may be holding them back.
From personal experience, I can say that my total lack of involvement in the homework process has made my kids brighter and more accountable students. Forgot your homework at school? Oh well, have fun explaining that to your teachers. Didn’t study? Enjoy that ‘F’ on your upcoming test. Help you with your math? Bahahahahahaha. Oooh-we, that’s a knee slapper.
Aside from the fact that I don’t agree with doing my kids homework for various reasons — been there, done that, who’s homework is this?, why am I studying long division again? — there’s also the added fact that I didn’t go to teacher’s college. It’s always been very clear to me that helping my children with math would do far more harm than good. I am a firm believer that if my child doesn’t understand something they learned at school, it is my child’s responsibility to let the teacher know they don’t understand it and the teacher’s responsibility to make sure they do.
My lack of involvement can not be equated with lack of concern either. My job as their mother is immense. I send them to school for their education, and I take care of the rest. Which is why I take exception to accountability for a child’s homework being laid at the feet of the parents. I abhor reading logs and my hackles go up when I’m chastised for not checking my child’s agenda. Who’s agenda is this anyways? Two days ago my oldest daughter informed me that there was a junior high information session coming up. She knew the time, the where and the why. I didn’t ask to see her agenda to double check or to see a note, I took her word for it and she was correct on all counts. My lack of checking what’s going on in their schedule makes them accountable to figure out how they’re going to get it done. It becomes their concern, not mine. They are learning how the real world works and when they stumble and fall they’ll have a cushier landing learning at home then when they’re moved out on their own.
So in the end what do I have for all this neglect? I have two children who are excelling at French despite the fact that their father and I speak none. I have an independent eleven year old who comes home and bakes cookies after school from scratch without two minutes of my help. My nine year old pulled in more A’s this year than any year prior and I haven’t looked at her agenda in weeks. She seems to be doing just fine without my signature. Both my girls are capable of verbalizing their issues with adults without my interference because I’ve made every effort to not speak for them. With all that said, I don’t for two seconds think that my free-range approach to homework makes me the world’s most perfect mom. I like to think that I’m a work in progress when it comes to this parenting gig. It’s nice to know though that I’m not a slacker after all and am a little more cutting edge than I thought. Maybe my be accountable for yourself approach will catch on and I’ll have more conversations with moms that detail all the hours they spent not helping their kids do their homework.