Homework: A Parent’s Job Or A Children’s Job?

Precisely because today’s classes actually need two to three teachers, many parents are uncertain. Also, the position of the profession of teacher in the media has long since ceased to be the best. So parents are uncertain…

…about the general competence and ability of the teacher.

…to what extent they, as guardians, know better what kind of upbringing and education their child needs.

…whether they should really refrain from doing their child’s homework when other parents do the same.

…whether modern teaching methods and didactic principles really represent a further development or rather a step backwards. “Back then, we still had to learn the multiplication tables by heart in math! Today it is made much easier for the children.”

Among other things, this line of thought puts parents in a difficult position. This article cannot change this situation. It can only underline which courses of action make sense from a pedagogical point of view and which parents should rather do without.

Homework has become an irritant for many parents. When I think of many a modern textbook, this is not surprising. As child-friendly and didactically correct as the current material may be, there are always big question marks in the children’s eyes when they have to complete the tasks in those books on their own.

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Especially in the first elementary school level, children often forget by the afternoon what they are actually supposed to do with the given task. This is a problem when the kids haven’t learned to read yet and need to know on their own what to do with the painted bowl of apples and pears.

This is where the parents come in, who have often learned their basic skills using completely different methods. So it’s natural for a parent to be at a loss even in a first-grader’s math book.

Because the child can hardly help himself in such a situation, the question arises:

Should Parents Help With Homework?

In principle, the teacher should set the task in such a way that the child can complete it without outside help – and within 30 to 50 minutes.

The homework is NOT an additional learning hour in the afternoon, in which the child continues his learning without the teacher. In fact, it has a very different value. It is meant to challenge the child by applying what he or she has learned in school without assistance. In addition, it serves as feedback for the teacher about the level of knowledge of the kids. In mathematics, there are often misunderstandings between teacher and student, so that the kids apply a calculation rule incorrectly. With homework, the trained teacher’s eye can see what’s going on in the children’s heads and whether they have understood the subject matter correctly and grasped the logic behind mathematics.

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In elementary school and later, kids need a little food for thought now and then to find the right way to solve a problem. Basically, however, those hints should really only stimulate thinking and leave the solution of the task to the child itself.

In after-school and afternoon care programs, children are assisted by trained educators who, ideally, do just that. Ideally, they do just that – motivate the kids by giving them a helping hand when they can’t do it on their own.

Parents are quite different. They want their child to be able to solve the task. They want them to understand and be able to do everything. In the best case, they will only bring home papers with the rating “very good” by the time they graduate from university. Do you think this is an exaggerated statement? Let’s be honest: Who of us doesn’t want their own child to learn without any problems at the first attempt? It’s only natural. With this personal background, one tends to intervene a bit too far in the child’s learning process. As a result, parents may completely revise and ultimately rewrite their child’s essays. Admittedly, one cleverly camouflages this procedure (subconsciously) by explaining to the child what he or she should do or by making notes on the assignment. Nevertheless, this intervention has exactly the opposite effect of what one actually wants to achieve.

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The children don’t get a chance to discuss what they don’t understand with the teacher. How could they? After all, in today’s classroom reality, the modern teacher has no time to devote to those who seem to have understood what’s at stake.

Give Your Child A Chance To Learn Independently

In primary and secondary education, it is common for teachers to review with the class (on the basis of checked homework) those points that have often been misunderstood or simply not understood. If there is an increased lack of clarity in a particular area, the teacher will revisit the topic in question. Intensive practice is then done together, for example on the blackboard, so that the tasks can also be solved correctly on their own the next time. Individual cases are discussed with the respective kids themselves, while the rest of the class delves into schoolwork. This is how a standard math lesson in elementary school usually works. I’m sure it was little different in your school days.

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The problem is that parents (especially mothers) usually short-circuit each other when a homework assignment is causing trouble. To a certain extent, that’s fine. But if parents feel compelled to intervene in their child’s independent practice because others are doing the same, it becomes problematic. At this point I would like to recommend quite clearly: Give your child a chance to learn independently. Even if you are alone in this, because most parents see it quite differently. It is not difficult to be pushed into an outsider position at some point because you have a different opinion than the rest in educational matters here or there. So from the very beginning, you can safely do without exposing yourself to the often underestimated peer pressure of the other parents.

I would like to emphasize this once again: If a child begins to show signs of frustration because he or she is not getting anywhere, give him or her short, snappy tips that will help him or her move forward again. Such hints about things that the child actually knows anyway, but cannot recall at the moment, are allowed and desired.

Photo: Rido81 / bigstockphoto.com

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