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Thursday Tip: Don’t be a homework helper

April 24th, 2014 | Posted by Kerry Lyons in Tips and Quips

Like many working moms, I suffer severely from FOMS (Fear of Missing Something).  Truth be told, I’ve suffered from this affliction since childhood. Back then, I hated falling asleep first at sleepovers and missing out on the final rounds of Truth or Dare; these days, I’m bummed out about missing class trips to the book fair, field trips to the zoo and daily occurrences like homework.

Homework, you may be wondering? How can you miss out on that? Don’t you come home every night?! Well yes. Yes, I do. I get home from work by about 6:00 each day to a house full of hungry kids and a table full of homework folders waiting for review. Which would you tackle first? For me, it’s the hungry kids. Depending on my dinner plan, I heat up some leftovers or whip up some tortellini and do my best to have dinner on the table by 6:30.

We really enjoy our family dinners – assuming, of course, that we get to have them and our daily opportunity for together time isn’t disrupted by baseball, lacrosse or the sport du jour, as it frequently is. Either way, by the time our clan is fed, it’s almost time for bed. Assuming we leave the table by 7:15 (which is optimistic on most days!), there are three  five-year olds with “just right” books they need to read; a seven-year old who wants to read me a few pages of Matilda, and a nine year old who wants to snuggle and read Wonder.

It’s after 8:30 by the time all the lights are out and the kitchen clean up still looms. By the time the dishes are away and the next day’s lunch is started, it’s well after 9:00 and I have a boatload of emails to return for work. I glance at those five homework folders, exhausted and overwhelmed. And more often than not, I pass them by. I assume that if my kindergarten crew was having trouble, I’d hear about it. I trust that my 2nd grader is conquering the common core and I have confidence that my 4th grader is doing what he’s supposed to do.

I lament (like most people) that there aren’t more hours in the day or days in the week telling myself that if only there were, I’d surely check their homework each and every day. Then I consider my own parents and their commitment to my homework, which was minimal at best. Most recently, I was comforted by an article in The New York Times that suggests parents who hover and help with homework may actually be doing their kids a disservice; it states that “… most forms of parental involvement, like observing a child’s class, contacting a school about a child’s behavior, helping to decide a child’s high school courses, or helping a child with homework, do not improve student achievement. In some cases, they actually hinder it.”

So there you have it –  if there’s a body of evidence giving me permission to do one less thing, to fret and worry about one less thing, then I am all for it!  I am NOT a homework helper and that is a.ok!  Now, if only I could figure out how to get those extra hours in the day, I could use them to go the Audubon Society with my kindergartners’ classes next month — then I’d really be on my way to conquering my FOMS!

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