The Norman Transcript

November 30, 2012

How much should parents help with work


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Q: My husband says I help my son too much with his homework. How involved should I be?

— Cindi, Norman

Dear Cindi,

At different ages and stages of development, different levels of help are appropriate. When kids are elementary-aged, parents need to start establishing best times and places for homework. Some kids do better right after school with a snack so they can go to activities at night, while some prefer to take a break, go out and run some energy off, eat a good dinner and then hit the books. Studies show that trying to complete homework right before bedtime is never a good idea. By the time kids are in junior high or high school, they should be responsible for themselves. It isn’t called “mom work” for a reason. Teaching accountability and responsibility is one of the greatest gifts to give our children.

Learning to accept consequences for actions (or lack thereof) from someone other than parents is a valuable life-long lesson. Homework is meant to function as practice for the skills learned in class. If parents do the work for their children, the children won’t be able to pass classroom tests, for example. Parents can and should help with organization and study skills, but actually doing the work for them is not advised.

Q: My friend and I were discussing at what age it’s appropriate to take children to a funeral, and we disagree on the answer. What are your thoughts?

— Olivia, Oklahoma City

Dear Olivia,

Even though we feel this question doesn’t directly deal with school, we wanted to take a stab at it because it could have indirect effects. There’s no right or wrong answer as to age appropriateness. So much depends on the combination of your relationship with your child and the closeness to the person who passed away.

You just have to do what feels right, because your child will let you know if they feel comfortable or not. It’s difficult enough on all of us to lose people close to us, but it’s especially difficult when children don’t understand.

What we do urge parents or family members to do is to let someone in the school know when your family has been affected by death … a favorite teacher, counselor, coach … someone with whom the child feels a bond. We’ve seen it happen over and over where a kid will have a breakdown of sorts at school, and no one knows what’s going on or how to help.

Jeannie and Sally are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children, Sally three. The responses presented don’t necessarily represent the views of any certain school district. Please send questions to questions.classact@gmail.com.

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