I can’t imagine a world where parents don’t get involved with homework. Having raised two well-adjusted and competent children who are now adults, I can tell you a child is fortunate to have parents assist with homework. For the most part, I allowed my children to do as much of their homework as possible. There were many times when the homework assigned was of such a magnitude that no child was going to get close to completing without 8 hours of steady work.
In fact, my children had a couple of teachers in grade school that routinely did this. When I challenged the teacher on it, the teacher would always disagree with me. When the teacher polled the class and other parents, my point was taken. The large amount of homework was a reflection of the trend in teachers not to give adequate classroom time for skills to be worked on and mastered. So, it wasn’t just homework, it was all of the work. Without parental help, this could not have been recognized and corrected.
Many times, too little instructional time is allowed for all of the concepts to be mastered because of overcrowded classrooms. Although I did have one teacher who informed me that with 15 kids to teach, she just did not have time to give any individual attention.
I was always careful to make sure that I did not do the work for my children, but assisted them to do it. My belief was that if they did not understand the material, it would cause problems at test time.
Personally, I believe the trend toward parental involvement in homework is a direct reflection of two problems in the educational system. The first is that we now have too many teachers who have gone into the profession for steady work rather than a love a teaching children. This has created a learning vacuum in the classroom. The second is that the performance of a school and not the student is what is truly being measured now by standardized tests.
This has resulted in the curriculum being restricted to teaching the material on the test rather than broad-based and in depth teaching on a topic. Because of this, teachers are being forced to prove that they have covered the standardized test materials to the administrations who worry about their careers more than children. This lessens the opportunity for instruction on all of the concepts of the book. The only way the material can be introduced adequately is by sending enormous amounts of homework home for the parent to teach the material to their child.
With hours of family time being erode away by this excess homework, parents are choosing to lighten the load on their children so that activities can still be a part of family life. If the time needed for homework can be shorted to about 1 or 2 hours per night, it leaves time for a family meal and some fun together.
This isn’t all about making high grades. It’s about balancing life and school. With excess homework, we are teaching our kids that work is more important than relationships. This is too high of a price to pay for a better rated school system.