Should you help your kids with their homework?

Jennifer vows to keep her hands off her son's homework — but will this approach last beyond first grade?

Photo by Cayusa via Flickr.

Last week, our first grade son was assigned his first school project: interview a grandparent and write a short report. I was really looking forward to it, since most of the questions were about how life when the grandparents were kids is different than life for today’s kids.

Our son is just getting to know my dad after meeting him for the first time last year and attending a one-room school house is different than my son’s school with WiFi and SmartBoards. I had pictured a Pinterest-worthy homework project with pictures and drawings — one where his teacher would run out of gold stars rewarding his hard work. But what actually happened left him with tears of frustration because his printing wasn’t “perfect” (I’ve birthed a perfectionist, which shocks me too). Over an hour later he’d finally printed out the four sentences required of the project and vowed to never do homework again.

Through the tears and tantrums, I sat beside him and quietly encouraged him to keep at it. Sure, it would have been easier to print it out for him or let him use my computer to type it out. I could have set out the crayons I wanted him to use for the pictures — but he never ended up drawing anyway. The finished report was nothing like I pictured. And that’s OK, because he did it on his own.

As a kid I never got help with any of my school projects and, indeed, they were the ugliest and most cockeyed assignments in class. My science fair experiments were unimaginative and smelled bad and never, ever won. I’d look at other projects and wish that I’d had more help at home with mine. I mean, it was my experiment with laundry soap versus another child’s project on solar energy — of course sexy solar energy won. But through this, I learned to work on my own, work through frustration and, yes, handle the disappointment of losing. These are all skills and life lessons that I feel are important to teach our children. Besides, that exhaustive research on laundry soap in the fifth grade continues to serve me well.

Admittedly, I’m still a rookie when it comes to kids and homework. After all, this is the first project our eldest child has brought home. Sure, I’d love for our children to have picture perfect projects, but if his A+ comes from my hard work and not his, in my books, that’s an F.

How involved do you get in your child’s homework?

Photo by Cayusa via Flickr.

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