All over social media I keep seeing parents posting about helping their kids with homework and how they know now what it feels like to be a teacher or to homeschool. I have to admit…..I just can’t relate.
I’m not helping my kids with their homework at all.
It’s not that I don’t love my kids or value their education. Quite the opposite. The problem is that they have surpassed my abilities in almost every area. I’m no slouch…I have a Bachelor’s degree in 2 subjects plus a law degree. But our education system has my kids doing things I never even learned.
For example, my daughter who is a junior has almost all AP classes. She’s taking college calculus and I barely muddled through high school calculus. She’s taking AP chemistry and I stopped after one chemistry class. My other daughter is a freshman in college and is already taking second year psych classes because she tested out of the first year psych class. I don’t remember if we even have psych at our school?
I’m fortunate that my husband is a STEM guy because he at least understands the words that Cassie is saying. But truth be told, even he struggles to remember his college calculus classes.
I’m sure I am not the only parent in this situation given how many high school and college kids are doing elearning, so I decided to come up with a list of things we can all do to help our kids without actually helping with the homework.
- Encourage virtual study groups. Have the kids get on a Google Hangout with other kids in their class a couple of times a week to talk through their homework. This will not only help with their homework but also the mental aspects of separation from other people.
- Help develop a good learning environment. Don’t let the kids do their homework sitting in the middle of the family room with the television on. Simulate a normal classroom setting by creating a quiet place in the house for them to do their work each day.
- Encourage a normal routine. I know everyone is loving getting to sleep in until noon everyday, but your kids may be missing out on instruction time with their teachers/professors if they are not online during normal school hours. Guide them toward a schedule that allows for flexibility during the day but also keeps them on a solid routine.
- Seek out help. Even if YOU don’t know calculus, you may have a Facebook friend that does or they might have a kid who took it last year. Use your social network to look for help. Also investigate help lines (for example Rose-Hulman does virtual math and homework help for free).
- Do a little nagging. It’s perfectly fine to ask questions now and again about how much elearning your kids are getting and where they are with it. You know your kid and how much or how little “push” they need to stay on track when they don’t have the accountability of the regular school day.
- Get some exercise. At a minimum, the kids are used to walking around the school all day–maybe even having PE classes or show choir or sports practices. Physical health impacts your brain. Find a way to get the kids moving throughout the day a couple of times so they aren’t just sitting still.
- Support the teachers. Back up the teachers when the kids complain about how much homework they have or needing to do daily check-ins or other requirements. This is a whole new world for them as well and they are trying to adapt on the fly. If something is really wonky, email the teacher for clarification (but NOT the college professor!! that’s on your kid to do).
- Watch for signs of stress. More than anything else, pay close attention to how they are dealing with the work. Are they overwhelmed? Confused? Anxious? They are already dealing with a lot being at home under these circumstances and one bad test grade or not understanding a book they are reading might be the tipping point for them.
I’m lucky that I have always worked from home so I am used to having a structured “work day” for myself that I can help my kids emulate. With 4 of us working and studying in the house all day now, the structure is definitely helpful!