Another school year is upon us, and that means there’s homework once again. It’s hard to watch your child struggle with anything, including school work. Or course, parents feel the urge to swoop in with the right answers.
But is that the best thing for them? When should you jump in to help, and when should you leave them to work through it themselves? How will they ever learn to do the work on their own if they’re always rescued by an adult?
Yet there’s a lot of pressure on parents to ensure their children get good grades, so they get accepted by a good university, which sets them up to be on track for career advancement down the road.
How should parents decide which path to take?
Be Supportive from the Sidelines
Every time a parent helps their child with their homework, it deprives them of the lessons that come from working through it themselves. Parents won’t be there to help them once they’ve started their careers, or even when they’re off at university.
The school exists to teach children how to think critically and solve problems. Intervening to help your kids when they’re wrestling with these very skills undermines their independence. Course material goes in one ear and out the other when they don’t work through the material themselves.
Help your child learn by encouraging them, by telling them it’s OK if they’re struggling. Give them support from the sidelines.
Let Your Child Take Agency Over Their Learning
Now, online education from schools such as Ontario eSecondary School lets kids learn at their own speed. The program is designed to foster self-sufficiency, independence, and needs-based learning.
Online learning doesn’t hurry students along or hold them back. If your child needs more time to finish their work, they are free to take it. On the flip side, your child will get the next course material if they should finish early. Either way, they’ll have space and support needed to do their own school work.
Be Involved When It’s Suitable
There are times when a parent can help. If they want to discuss the novel they’re reading or a mathematical concept, partake in the discussion! Don’t serve them the answers on a silver platter, but help illuminate the concept through talk.
Exam or test prep is a great way to get involved in your child’s learning without taking it over. Quiz them on information they absorbed on their own, and see how much they retained. Testing them should demonstrate to you how much they learned on their own — the more your child absorbed, the better a decision it was to let them struggle with their homework independently.
Learning is a lifelong skill, and there are challenges along the way. The process is often more important than the destination. Loving your child sometimes means trusting that they’ll get the right answers and letting them find their own way.