Am I The Only Parent Struggling With Homework?
“Hooomeworrrrk”! The daily 4pm (and/or 5pm, 6pm, 7pm, 7.30pm, 8.30pm…) battle-cry of parents throughout California. Especially those of us blessed with kids who have discovered the delights of video games, Facebook, Pinterest and other distractions to the exclusion of all else.
If you’re wondering if you’re the only parent facing these problems, a quick google search for the term “math homework help” will assure you that you are not the only parent struggling with this. But it sure might feel like it sometimes. Especially when you hear from other moms that THEIR child gets their homework done by 4pm, THEN does their violin practice, THEN voluntarily reads Tolstoy for an hour before bedtime, which is at 7:30 because they must get enough sleep to prepare for their GATE test….
The world seems to have changed so much since the 70s and 80s, but modern day California parenting is really not that dissimilar to the job our parents had to do. The battle still went on to pull us away from our Atari, or cajole us in from the street and off from our bikes and skateboards after dark, or down from our tree houses, or to demand that we take off our walkmans and interact with the “real world”. But in other ways it is starkly different.
Are we working longer hours than we ever used to? It certainly feels like it, especially with the ability to keep in constant touch 24/7, thanks to the advent of the technological age, which was intended to make life easier and yet seems to have made us busier than ever!
The modern California household is just as likely to be headed by a single parent as it is a married couple. A single parent most likely working hard to make ends meet. Even if there are two parents, one is highly likely to be away for a significant portion of time. It is likely to have more than one child in school, and those children may not be using English in the home. The children are likely to have multiple demands on their time – reading practice, music, extracurricular sports clubs, friends, family. Did I mention online gaming?
And this is all before we throw an entirely new way of teaching and learning into the mix, in the form of the Common Core Standards now being taught in our schools. The ways children are now being asked to think about their studies are vastly different to generations previous as the education system is tasked with producing a new kind of thinker for the future of business and industry. This is why we sometimes look at our children’s homework and wonder who on earth wrote these questions? And why?!
For a busy parent it is ambitiously easy to plan to spend quality time with your child helping them with their homework. In practice, the phone rings, the email pings, there’s a knock at the door, the evening meal goes horribly wrong, the dog has left something ominous on the carpet, and suddenly even the best laid plans fall to pieces. And why is this almost every night??!
And when we finally DO manage to sit down in a quiet place together, we open the books to be confronted with questions like “a train leaves the station travelling east at 50mph. What color is it?”
So what is the answer?
Few will disagree that tutoring has direct and lasting benefits on a child’s educational progress. Just two hours a week can make a world of difference. Anecdotal claims of immediate and sustained results are available everywhere from the Internet to the schoolyard to the park, and a 2001 government publication backs up those claims with empirical evidence from several studies (1).
At whatever level, a skilled tutor can help a gifted child excel, build confidence in a child suffering in a particular subject, provide a role model for good study habits, encouragement and feedback on a child’s progress. But what is less obvious and still vital to the wider family is the impact that tutoring can have on the rest of family life. When a child is happier, more confident, motivated and simply coping better with the demands of school life, a busy working parent is happier, motivated and coping better with the other demands placed on them.
None of us want to see our children struggling. And we do the best we can, even when we are spread so thinly we are in danger of tearing apart altogether. In short, a tutor can offer professional academic support to a child, which then enables a parent to get on with all the other tasks involved in the role of parenting.
No. You are not the only parent struggling with this. But some parents struggle less than others. For many, the secret is their very own “weapon of mass instruction”: a skilled, professional tutor.