Dear parent, your child’s homework assignment is not for you to do! I know that, as a parent, you may have all the excitement with all the best intention to help your kid complete the homework assignment, but please do understand – the more you try to do their work, the more it dissipates your kid’s overall learning experience.
I often come across students telling me: “I had to take help from my dad to solve this question”, “My mom helped me solve some of the questions in the homework”, and “I watched some internet video explaining how to solve this question.” That’s when I wish the parent understood the goal of the assignment better. That’s also when I wish the internet was a little more sensible and able to judge when to offer help :).
The intent of the homework assignment or any learning exercise is to help a student think and grasp a concept. It is not to get the right answers for all the questions but to instigate thought and help the student grasp a particular concept. The overall intent is to bring about a good learning experience. For that to happen, a student should feel challenged and should enjoy the experience of analyzing and reasoning. Parents helping the student to get a quick solution or the student finding someone else’s solution on the internet instantly doesn’t help much. It only makes the student think that he knows the answers, whereas he doesn’t actually know it. If you know that you don’t know something, you may take the step towards learning it sometime or the other. If you don’t know something and you think you know it, you will never be able to take the step towards learning it.
I would pick one challenging question at a time and think about it in every possible way. Sometimes, I used to chase a question even for days to get the answer. At the end, more than anything, it’s the experience and excitement of trying to solve a question and learning something new that mattered the most. It’s not that I never asked anyone anything to understand it better, but it’s that merely completing the homework assignment on the surface was never my goal. I always did the learning exercises for the fun of solving questions on my own and for the excitement of learning something new. Fortunately, my parents never had me rushed and they gave me all the time I needed to think and realize things on my own.
For example, as a kid, I always loved to build 3D models using card boards or any easy-to-find waste material at home. When I was in a mood to build something and start looking out for waste material or making a plan on a piece of paper, my parents would know I was up to creating something new. If needed, my mom would help me find things like old cardboard boxes, threads, colors, glue etc. My parents would give me space, leave me alone until I was done. They wouldn’t turn on the TV or talk loud or do anything that would be too distracting for me. The whole family would look forward to seeing what I was making and they would always appreciate whatever I finally built.I never realized the support they were providing when I was a kid but, as I grew up, I understood how much positive impact it had on me to have a good learning experience.
So, it’s not really about helping your kid complete his/her homework, it’s about creating an environment where he/she is encouraged and inspired to learn something new on their own. Learning takes it’s time and it’s never instantaneous. In the name of modern education, these days, kids have tons of things to do from school or other learning sources but, at the end of the day, there are no shortcuts for effective learning. If required, as a parent, you can help reduce noise by not having them learn so many things and have them focus on a few things at a time. Give them all the time they need, let them explore independently and relish the experience of learning something new.
Founder, Jusya Education Private Limited.