When a parent comes into a classroom in the morning with a student of any age and says: “We had a little trouble with our homework last night,” a little warning light should go on in everyone’s head. The parent is taking too much responsibility for the student’s education, and thus inadvertently compromising the child’s performance.
The engine of high performance is self-determination, and self-determination is fueled by responsibility. If a parent cares more about something than the child, it absolves the child of responsibility.
But is there a way for parents to be involved in their children’s education that increases their responsibility and ownership of their learning? Yes.
These tried and true examples have worked with some children at some times. However, all children are different, and parents need to be creative in inventing ways that work for them.
Don’t go it alone. Form a partnership with the teacher and decide collaboratively what role, if any, you will play in the homework. Depending on the age of the child the student should be in on this discussion, and even lead it. If you and your spouse disagree, get that sorted out ahead of time. Use the school. After all, you are doing this to help them do their job.
Step one: Ask: “Who is responsible to whom for what?” (Ans: The child is responsible to the teacher for the homework.)
Step two: Recite: “I will not interfere with my child taking responsibility for his/her homework.”
Step three: Watch out: Pursuing the short-term goal of academic success can interfere with the goal of them taking responsibility for their own education. Choose the long-term goal.
Step four: Lead your children into intellectual activity; don’t send them.
Step five: Check for hypocrisy: “Do I like to work at home in the evening?”
Step six: At least do no harm. A parent’s primary responsibility is to let nothing—not even school—interfere with your home life. School can be oppressive to some kids. It is the teacher’s job to get the child to love schoolwork, not yours.
1) Be there to help, but don’t interfere. If they struggle help them think things through.
2) No rescuing. Don’t interfere with the consequences of unfinished homework.
Posted on October 31, 2012 by Rick Ackerly, Ed.M.
Rick Ackerly is a nationally recognized educator and speaker with forty-five years of experience working in schools. He has served as head of four independent schools, speaks to parent and school groups across the country and presents at numerous education conferences. Rick is the author of The Genius in Every Child: Encouraging Character, Curiosity and Creativity in Children and lives in Decatur, Illinois. Visit his blog, The Genius in Children, or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.
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