There’s No Good Excuse For Doing Your Kid’s Homework
I am going to preface this essay by admitting that pretty much everything I believed about parenting a small child changed as soon as I had a small child. While I don’t have a child who has homework yet – I think it’s really damaging to do your kid’s homework for them. I could very well change my tune on this when my kids bring home a ton of homework. I’ve found my opinions as a parent always seem to be stronger about something before I actually have to deal with it. So maybe someday I will understand you parents that do your kid’s homework for them. Right now though, I can’t.
I read an op-ed in the New York Times this weekend about doing your kid’s homework. It was called, But I Want To Do Your Homework. I loved how it was written, the writer had a really funny take on her desire to impart some of her expertise into certain aspects of her son’t academic life – namely his English homework. She rewrote an essay he was assigned on To Kill A Mockingbird, and earned her son a 73. She laments:
He got a 73.
I got a 73.
She admits the motivation behind finishing that report was that, she “wanted him to ace his “To Kill a Mockingbird” essay,” and that she “was nervous” because of her son’s lack of intellectual aspirations. That part was entertaining, but she brings up a very real point:
Let’s ignore, for the moment, the question of whether homework makes kids smarter and more successful. Almost all studies on the subject say it doesn’t, and in countries with some of the highest levels of academic achievement (hello, Denmark and Finland), there is little or no homework. But in many American schools there is anywhere from one to four hours of it a night. Seeing a cherished extracurricular activity passed over, another family dinner ruined, is it any wonder many of us help out a little? Or a lot?
This is a sentiment I see echoed a lot when I read about school-aged kids and their homework. Has it really gotten this bad? And if so, why aren’t we doing anything about it? Of course I remember having homework, but I can’t remember spending more than an hour on it most nights. Two, at the most. Four hours of homework? Is that really happening, parents? If it is, I certainly understand the motivation to help your child – but still just can’t get behind it. Having an immigrant mother who literally could not help me with my homework gave me an incredible self-sufficiency and perseverance. Barring anything that involves math, I feel like there’s nothing I can’t teach myself. I honestly think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I had little to no help with my homework.
Isn’t the goal of homework to figure out what students are and are not retaining? To help them prepare for exams? To hammer in the information they went over in class? If someone is doing it for them – that simply isn’t a benefit.
But, yeah – four hours is bullshit. If that really is happening, something needs to change.