When it comes to your kids’ studies, homework seems like a no-brainer: make sure they have it done and help them if necessary. But, surprise, surprise, it may be more complicated than that. Continuing its long tradition of ruining everything, Science tells us that helping your kids with their homework may not be as beneficial as we thought. That’s right, if your kid is dumb as a rock, you may be going about the wrong way to help them.
In January of this year, Robinson and Harris, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin did the largest study on how parental involvement affects academic achievement so far. Turns out that helping your kids with homework, volunteering at their schools, meeting with their teachers and doing all those things that no working adult has time for will not make you into a model parent, but it might just be a waste of time. The studies show that there is no academic difference between kids whose parents spend time volunteering at their school and parents that stay home. Now you have an excuse to miss that PTA meeting you were dreading to go to.
Making sure your children do their homework every day is great, it has been proven time and time again that doing homework helps kids understand the concepts better and perform better at school. What’s not so great is getting directly involved in the process. According to Robinson and Harris, reviewing your child’s homework every night will not help them do better at their tests. What’s worse, once your kid enters Middle School, helping them with homework might actually backfire and make them perform worse. It sounds completely crazy until you find out the reason: it’s been a long time since parents were in Middle School. Think about it. How much do you actually remember of all the material you learned? Did you even understand it when you were in school? No, it’s better to leave all the explaining to the teacher, they are better at this than you. Instead of trying to recall that one concept that you never truly learned, encourage your kid to ask questions to the teacher, it will be more effective.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t get involved at all in your kids’ education. There are ways you can help them that will make a difference in their grades and performance. So before dropping your child at school like a hot potato and drive off into the sunset yelling “it’s your problem now!”, grab a book and read to your children. Especially the youngest ones. Reading to your kids at least 15 minutes every day will have a noticeable difference in their academic performance, and you’ll be encouraging a healthy habit. If you have teenagers, talk to them about college plans and help them make a decision (that is, do not make the decision for them). And regardless of your kids’ age, ask them what they want. Ask them if they would like you to be more present at school or if they need a tutor with homework. They’ll know better than us.