Some recent scientific studies shed helpful light on the topic.
In their concern to educate their children properly, many parents ask what they should do when their child comes home with homework. Should studying be the first thing they do when they get home? Should parents lay out a daily schedule for their children? Should they let their children do their homework alone, or help them? Should they simply trust that they will get it done and let them face the consequences if they don’t, or follow their progress attentively in each subject?
These questions are the subject of some debate, but it seems that recent studies tend to lean in the same direction. Although some parents think they should be very controlling and monitor their children’s homework schedules and results, correcting them and explaining things to them and trying to foresee and resolve their doubts, experts are proposing a different attitude.
If parents want to teach their children how to exercise their freedom responsibly and how to become more mature, as well as get better grades, according to a report from the University of Oviedo, they shouldn’t get too involved in their children’s homework.
The study carried out by the university using data from secondary schools in Spain says that children whose parents let them take responsibility for their own homework get better grades and learn better.
Does this mean that you shouldn’t help them? No. The study suggests that parents should help their children by encouraging them to take responsibility and do their homework on their own. Parents should only help more directly, the study says, when the children specifically ask for help about understanding a particular problem. What they should not do is be too controlling, supervising the homework closely, nor—much less—do their children’s homework for them.
These conclusions are complemented by a recent study by the Catalan Institute for the Evaluation of Public Policy and the Jaume Bofill Foundation of Barcelona, published in October of last year, describing the limits parents should respect when it comes to helping their children with homework.
In this case, the researchers judge it to be helpful for parents to help their children organize their homework, but say that by no means should parents do the homework with or for them.
In the light of these studies, the best thing for children seems to be that, when they get home, one of their parents help them organize their schedule, so that they have time to do all the things they want, such as having a snack, playing, reading, doing their homework, and so forth. It’s good to help them to come up with a regular study routine; for example, they might have a snack when they get home every day, and have half an hour to rest or play, then do their homework. It may also be helpful if they designate a goal for how much time to spend on each subject, so they can evaluate their own progress.
Parents should be more or less involved in working out this schedule depending on their children’s ages. As they grow up, children should have more and more responsibility in this, as in other things. This way, they’ll learn to be responsible, knowing that they need to make the right decisions in their life. The next day, they will see for themselves if they’ve made the right decisions.
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