MOORE — Question: My husband says I help my son too much with his homework. How involved should I be?
— Cindi, Norman
Answer: 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 lifelong 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 son is a ninth grader this year. He has chosen electives because those are the electives his friends have chosen. My wife and I feel like he should be in other classes and it has become a battle at our house. What is your opinion?
— Steve, Oklahoma City
A: As we have said before, electives are the perfect avenue to explore options that may never be available again. I completley agree with Jeannie that he is the one sitting in class doing the work and I am a huge proponent of taking classes that interest you. I do however feel that there is a time for a parent to step in while you still have some say so. As a student I was scared to death to get up in front of people and speak. Had I taken a speech class it would have been a huge benefit to me later in life. Jeannie can attest to a time in my career when I had to speak in a huge auditorium and me knees were visibly shaking! What about art? I hear so many student say they can't take art because they can't draw. DUH! That is like saying you can't take algebra because you don't know how to do the problems. We also have kids who won't take an elective because they don't know what it is. Find out! Teachers love to talk about their subjects! Ask them! Perhaps a happy medium can be reached in the future where you both have input. High school is the time to take these classes because in college he will be paying for them!
Sally Phillips and Jeannie DeLancey are certified school counselors with 49 years combined educational experience. Jeannie has two children and Sally has three. The responses presented don’t necessarily reflect the views of any certain school district. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Class Act, The Norman Transcript, P.O. Drawer 1058, Norman, 73070.