As a parent, I feel scared when my child gets a project to be done at home. My first thought is ‘Whose homework is it anyway?’ As a teacher, I am appalled when I see that the student’s work is by no means his own output and has been done by the parents.
So what exactly can be done in this Catch-22 situation?
John Dewey – a known name in the world of education – propagates the notion that children learn by doing rather than by passively receiving information. According to him, each child is active, inquisitive and wants to explore and the best thing that parents can do is to help capitalise on these drives.
So, how much help is enough?
As parents, we all need to understand that there is a very thin line between helping and supporting. While helping can go as far as doing your children’s work yourself, supporting includes encouragement and assistance wherever and whenever they require. This will, in turn, help them learn how to eventually solve their problems and do the work themselves.
It is also important to remember that parental intrusiveness or over-control – doing things that children CAN do for themselves, infantilizing behaviour and invasion of privacy – is synonymous with a parent modelling anxiety and can make the child feel that problems are overwhelming and irresolvable. Such behaviour by parents only increases a child’s anxiety.
Some Do’s and Don’ts to help parents draw the line when ‘helping’ children with school work include:
|Involve your child from the very start when doing a project. Make a schedule with your child mentioning the days and times to ensure that all parts of the project are done within the deadline.||Don’t think it’s your project rather than your child’s. If you treat it like yours, you will end up making a plan that suits you and your schedule.|
|Let your child do the research, whether it is online or at the library etc. Help him with keywords if necessary.||Surf the web or browse through material yourself while the child lurks somewhere in the background or worse, isn’t even there!|
|Ask questions. Asking questions about your children’s projects helps you and them identify and find solutions to muddy points.||Question yourself and start making a skeleton for the project yourself!|
|Proofread your child’s work.||Re-write your child’s work as you deem fit.|
As a teacher, I would also advise parents to do the following when helping your child with a class project:
- Talk to the teacher and ask for all the information about the project.
- Talk to your child and encourage him/her to do the work, pitching in support as and when needed.
- Make a schedule so that both you and your child are aware of where the project stands at every stage.
- Keep basic supplies handy – coloured/chart papers, glue, scissors, markers are supplies that should always be available. This will give your child the much-needed head start!
- Be there! Your child can always do with some encouragement and assistance in completing their project. Keep the line of communication open, always.
If you are a parent, tell us your experiences with your children’s school projects. Email us at [email protected]