Sunday, October 9, 2011

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What are they really learning when you do their homework?

Happy Elf Mom turned me on to this Joanne Jacobs blog about a mom justifying doing her kids' homework

 The actual blog post in interesting enough, as all of Joanne Jacobs posts are, but the comment section really blew me away.

It all starts with a blog post called Don't hate me because I do my daughter's homework.  As I read the post in entirely, I absentmindedly mumbled some words that I won't repeat.  In short, I felt like mom was full if it and trying to justify what she knew was wrong. The post ends with "But, when it comes to math, I leave that to her. I hate math. I will look at her math homework to see if she’s done it, but that’s all. So maybe, yes, I do her homework for her (or at least really, really chip in) – but I only do the fun homework. And you?"  Give me a break.

Anyway, like I said, the comments on regarding this post were far more interesting than anything this mom or Ms Jacobs had to say.

There were parents who justified doing homework because the assignments were stupid or because extracurricular and  family time were more important.

There were others who blasted the mommy in question for her "help" which surely went over and above.  Most felt she was bordering criminal behavior.

I felt that the problem was more about honesty and modeling for the child than anything else.  First, I think it is passive aggressive (and easier) to do a child's homework rather than to speak to the teacher about the homework assignment, and maybe ask for something more valuable.I also think that the parent may be underestimating the value of the homework given. A lot of the things she is complaining about, cutting, pasting, drawing, and puzzles are actual valuable activities for visual and kinesthetic learners.  If the child is clearly a different type of learner, then the parent should help the child negotiate a different type of assignment with the teacher.

Furthermore, and most of all, I feel like this is one of those gray areas that many parents participate in, and then when their kids are adults, the wonder why they kids are participating in questionable behavior.  Now these are my personal pet-peeves, but here's how I see it.

You can't buy bootleg and fake merchandise such as movies, and purses, and be surprised when your kid outright steals.  You have set the example of supporting theft.

You can't accepts a "discount" from a friend who works at a store, and be surprised when your kid is arrested for shoplifting.

You can't lose your temper in the mall parking lot at Christmas time over a parking space and be surprised when your kid is arrested for an act of road rage.

Our kids not only do what we do, but they tend to amplify our behavior.  It might be nothing now, but wait until your grown up kid copies your behavior at a much higher level.  It won't be pretty.  In other words, if mom does Jr's homework now, she should not be surprised when he gets busted for paying someone else to take his college entrance exam... which by the way, could be a punishable offense.

I just want to add a bit of a personal afterthought.  I was interrupted while writing this post by my 15 year old who wanted me to grade her practice PSAT exam.  Had it been a real PSAT exam she would have scored a 206.  This is crazy good...  National Merit good.  (provided she doesn't choke).  I point this out, not to brag, but to explain that any score she gets on the PSAT has NOTHING to do with me, even as a homeschooler.  This is a kid who has always learned independently.  Sometimes she did all of the work assigned to her.  Sometimes she blew it off.  And she always, always rushed through the process.  But in her entire education from public preschool and Kindergarten, through homeschool co-ops, online learning, academic classes, and self led textbooks, she never wanted, or accepted help from me.  She could be stuck on a math problem for a week, and would still shoo me away.  Yet she learned.  This may not always translate to great grades on paper, but in the end, if you let your child do more independent learning, you will end up with one smart kid.

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