Wednesday, May 6, 2015

An "Old School" Trick to Give Parents a Break from Homework

Last month we had a Parent-Teachers meeting at school. There is a particular teacher that is equally admired by students and parents. He deserves it. He is only the best teacher I've ever met!

By the way, I too admire him, to state the obvious. And to continue with the obviousness, people love him not because of how much he knows about Grammar, which is his area of expertise. They adore him because he uses his additional knowledge of psychology to the advantage and benefit of his students.

He is one of those lucky ones touched by the magic wand that grants true vocation. Warm, open, funny and sweet person. I've seen him "work his magic" in the past with problematic situations, turning them around with such grace that parents end up in awe. Believing that he is some kind of genius, or supreme being in disguise.

During the meeting, he asked us parents what is it that we see changing in our 9 year old boys and girls. Parents answers were very similar. Unanimously, they said that our kids had more responsibilities, more tests, more homework, than last year. And for that reason, we as parents, had to be vigilant and more into their homework, and responsibilities and making sure they fulfilled all that was expected from them.

The teacher continued asking. What about their personality? their character or temperament? Do you see any differences?

After a long silence, from the back of the room a parent's voice said: they want to be more... independent?

Exactly! the teacher said. So, on one hand, we have the increased work load. On the other hand, there is this age appropriate need, that is starting to appear at 9 years old, to separate from parents in some way, establishing their independence (best example is: "ok, bye mom, you can go now" and they say that at a safe distance from their friends, so that these friends don't notice any gestures of affection towards us parents) However, they still need us, because this grade has gotten busier and more complicated than last year's.

So, my big, happy moment of relief and alleviation came when the teacher asked us parents to take advantage of this stage in their development, and take a step back, letting them take care of their own homework. Helping them whenever they need, but not doing most of the work  for them. He advised us to simply ask every day if they had anything they needed to do for the next day at school. If the answer was no. Then, take a big breath and say: " all right". And if it turns out that they actually had homework pending and didn't do it, then let them face the consequences at school. He said that this is the best way to help them become more independent, and really be more responsible for their own work.

I love the "old school" ways. Parents weren't so much into their children's school work! And kids had to grow up to be more responsible whether they wanted or not. So now, I do what was requested at school (hey! it's an assignment for parents, I have to) and have had the best results doing so. The responsibility is on them, not me. As soon as they realized that, they started taking over their own school work with great grades and all!

Have you ever met a teacher like this? How do you deal with homework at home?

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