Whose homework is it anyway? Parents have to be teachers
A parent’s job is to love a child, manage his or her behavior and train him or her to be a thoughtful, sensitive, independent, well-educated adult. A teacher’s job is to teach a child. Right?Wrong!Teachers have new responsibilities that extend beyond academic education, and parents have become a support system for teachers. Home as a learning place often places parents in the position of being teachers, especially when difficult homework is involved.Homework should only be a way of reinforcing what has been taught in the classroom, not a way of introducing new material. When homework requires a parent to teach a child new material and new concepts, the parent is put in the untenable position of becoming the instructor. This is extremely impractical and frustrating for both the parent and the child.Recently, a parent called to tell us that she has had to fill in and become a “substitute teacher” this year, instructing her 12-year-old at home nightly. She said she must teach her child new material and even direct long-term assignments or her son becomes frustrated, afraid that he is unprepared.In these days of hyperstress and hyperpressure brought on by the test-prep mentality that pervades our educational system, parents are often left to help a child complete assignments that he or she did not understand, is unable to do or cannot complete within the expected time limit.Who fills in for the teacher? Often it is the frustrated parent. Following up on homework requires a set time and a specified place that is free from the distractions of other family members, telephones, computers and television programs. Sometimes this extends many hours after school when a parent has returned from work and the child is tired, hungry, frustrated or depressed.Tell the teacher if you have to help your child nightly with homework. Something is very wrong if you are becoming a “substitute teacher.”When you do have to act as instructor, remember, it only takes one negative experience to ruin a day full of positive learning experiences. It will take at least five positive experiences to undo one negative experience for your child, according to educator Dorothy Briggs.If your child has any special needs, you will have to be a parent and a teacher.Helping your child can be stressful and frustrating or exciting and rewarding. The choice is yours.For further information contact Helen Ginandes Weiss, M.A, and Martin S. Weiss, M.A., learning consultants, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by writing to P.O. Box 38, Twin Lakes, CO 81251. Call them at (719) 486-5800.
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