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Joined: Sep 2004
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Just how involved should parents be with homework? Some homes the sheer quantity of nightly homework and the difficulty of the assignments can turn ordinary weeknights into four-hour library-research excursions, leave kids in tears and parents with migraines. How much and what kind of homework is best?

A new article from Time magazine addresses this issue.

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I think it should be a combination. I over look my daughters' homework, but don't do it for them. I sometimes have trouble figuring out the instructions of projects.

I worry about students whose parents can't do algebra, have English as a second language. How can they over see the homework?

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Your worry is well founded. I was bothered by my son's third grade teacher who commented that there was no excuse for any student to get wrong answers on homework. The parents were expected to check and correct.

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Kids should do all homework by themselves. Parents should control kids doing their homework till the age of 12 more or less. Most parents will not be able to help their kids anyway once they get into a higher grade (as pathetic as it may sound), besides, there's got to be a reasonable limit. A kid should think for himself once in a teen age. My mother controlled me doing homework for the first 3 or 4 years of school, till I was 10 years old. From there on I was all by myself.

There is no homework that cannot be done by a kid alone. There are lazy kids but that's a different matter.

Then again, the schools in USA have nothing to do with scools in Europe, so I'm not aware of what the system's like. (Do not get offended, but I've heard from many sources that schools in USA are generally Very (that's a capital "V") weak).

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There is no homework that cannot be done by a kid alone.

That may or may not be the case. My sons have had teachers who expected the students to teach themselves the material via homework.

There are distinct differences between US and European schools. US school vary dramatically across the country.

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I would still insist on that a kid can manage with his/her homework even if little had been explained in class by the teacher. A teacher might by pathetic and useless - fine, but there are books and good books and loads of them for general stuff (e.g. basic maths). And a kid, seeing that his/her teacher is strongly underperforming in class, should find other ways of achieving the necessary level.

I'm a bit lazy at times. And I didn't go to school half of the time. And I don't go to University third of the time. Still, I find in myself enough patience to take a book, read it, do exercises. And at the day of the exam I score highest among hundreds with flawless class assistance record, without going a single time to the class in a whole year. And I assure you that studying here is no easy deal.

So, please, do not tell me that some elemental school homework cannot be accomplished by a kid alone. If he wants to do it, he'll succeed, if he doesn't he will fail sooner or later in the life, or the life itself will make him change the attitude.

(P.S. I'm not implying that I didn't go to school, don't go to University and yet perform at high level on the exams, I'm not that smart. <img src="/images/graemlins/laugh.gif" alt="" /> There have been a few cases of success with such attitude, but that's not the normal thing. The point is that nor school, nor University are the only and ultimate sources of knowledge and that if you don't learn something in there, you can't learn it anywhere else.)

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Where would this child get the needed materials to teach themselves algebra?

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Some interesting opinions here. While I would expect a high school student (even one of the most lazy) to take that extra step in tackling challenging homework, I'm not convinced that an elementary student would have much success flying solo should his/her teacher turn out to be "pathetic and useless".
I believe it's always good practice for parents to act as a guide for their children in regard to homework (and other aspects of life for that matter). Note I didn't say they should do the homework, and most of the time, they should not even have to sit with the child during homework time. I see no harm in occasionally checking to ensure the child is on tast, and/or that he/she is not frustrated with something particularly challenging. If something has stumped the student, guiding through possible solutions is far better than simply doing it for them....asking them leading questions is a great way to point them in a direction that will enable them to find solutions independently. This will help develop thinking and problem solving skills that they will be able to sharpen as they get older and will not need as much guidance.

I'm a firm believer in homework. It provides practice of what is done in the classroom. If a student returns homework that has some incorrect answers, it is a tool to tell the teacher where a potential problem may be. If all answers were correct because parents did too much "helping" then the teacher will not know that an adjustment may be necessary. Homework should not be an all evening endevour....but something that will reinforce skills taught in the classroom. Parents, give your child guidence, yet the space they need to discover their own strengths and weaknesses.
(my particular weakness is spelling!)

Maybe European children are able to start school in 1st grade with these problem solving and thinking skills already in tact. I have not seen that in U.S. children...but somehow, I think they will be just fine.

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Help them but do not do it for them.

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I'm not sure it's fair to force parents to be experts on all subjects. If a child's parents don't speak English very well and have never learned geometry, how are they supposed to check over a child's geometry homework? The teacher should have the responsibility of providing the child with good course material, whether it's the book or supplemental material, plus notes from their class. The students should have everything they need in their hands. Not all kids have access to the internet easily. Some are on shared computers at home, with time limits, if they even do have a full internet connection at home.


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