Saturday, September 19, 2009

Homework, artwork; when is it THEIR work?

So, Bodog and I have a slight difference of opinion when it comes to our kids' homework.

First of all, we do agree that all homework should be done at the dining room table and that we need to sit down immediately after school and do it.

Structure and routine are our watchwords, as you know, so everyone changes into play clothes and we chat about their day. I do a pot of tea and we have some noms - a small mid-afternoon meal any British will recognise as "tea" - but we go ahead and knock out all the homework while the 'school' mode is still on.

So far, so good.

The rot sets in after the homework is done, you see.

Bodog, Mr public school teacher, corrects the homework.

This drives me mad!

See, I help my children, when asked, (but never give answers), and I encourage my kids to look over their work and double check for mistakes, but I do NOT correct work.  I will go so far as to look over the work and if I see a fair number of mistakes, suggest they take another peek, but that's it.

Bodog feels that correcting work gives him a chance to teach the child the correct way of doing something.  Fair, enough; makes sense.

I feel that it's the child's teacher's job to teach him.  I want to give her the opportunity to teach my child.  In addition, I think it's wrong to send nearly perfect work back every time. This might lead the teacher to think that my child is not making mistakes and so doesn't need to be taught (fill in the blank whatever).

Does that make sense?

Also, I have a thing about my children's work being their work.  I want my kids to own their own efforts, y'know?  I gently guide and instruct all day every day.  With homework, I also help (when asked), make suggestions, point out things the may have missed, ask questions to nudge them into finding out the answers on their own - in a way, 'teaching' on the fly - but I want them to learn that their work is THEIR work and that they are wholly responsible for it, good or bad.

Take artwork.  Would you 'correct' artwork?  I'm the artistic parent but I would never alter my child's artwork or even suggest that they change it.  As a matter of fact, I recently read on someone's blog about a mom who, deciding her child had drawn something inappropriate for school, had actually changed her child's artwork herself.

I was gobsmacked.  I would never never do that!  What my kid creates is his and I have no right to touch it.  If I thought something was so offensive, I'd simply explain that to my child and give him a clean piece of paper to start over.

This brings up horrible memories of the whole "building gingerbread houses" fiasco in Boy's class where many of the mommies were actively building the gingerbread houses for their child or altering what their kid had done.

What do you think?  How do you handle your child's homework?  If you are a teacher or former teacher, do you feel differently about it?

Is artwork different from homework?  Have you ever altered your own child's artwork?  If you are an artist do you feel that it was justified because you were 'teaching' your child something?

Let me know in the comments!

PS: when you get done commenting please take our Homework Style poll over at Thrifty Mom Dot Com home!  :)

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posted by MrsEvilGenius @ 8:09 am   10 comments


At 9:53 am, Blogger Jezwyn said...

As a teacher, I would encourage both your parental behaviours - absolutely encourage them to find the mistakes for themselves, but unless they find the mistake, they won't learn that they actually made an error. Demonstrating the correct response through procedure (i.e. not just giving the answer away) is crucial to learning, and the shorter the delay between the child doing the work and receiving validation/adjustment, the better.

Additionally, I don't know what your child's classroom is like, but chances are there are quite a few kids in there, and the teacher won't have as much time to spend helping him learn individually. I expect parents to be actively involved in the homework process until at least Year 8 (14 years of age), ensuring both good study habits and compliance, as well as being their direct source of feedback should they need assistance (whether requested or not).

If you're worried that your child isn't telling his teacher that Dad corrects his homework with him, then give her a call and let her know. In-class assessment should be making it clear to her as well where your child's strengths and weaknesses are, so I wouldn't worry too much about that.

Literacy/Numeracy vs Artwork - they can't be compared. Literacy & numeracy have clear mistakes, as they are primarily objective subjects (with literacy also involving a lot of creativity). Art work, especially visual work, is completely subjective, has no incorrectness, but can have inappropriateness. However, if my child had completed an art task in a rushed manner and was clearly below their potential, I would ask them to do it again before presenting it to school. I wouldn't physically change it myself, but I might offer suggestions if the child wasn't happy with the work (I would never criticise art work otherwise!)

My Mum was a primary school teacher, and I remember her helping my brother, an average student, with his homework until he was at least 10. I was always successful at school, so other than my parents listening to me read, I don't think I had any help. So if your boy is a struggler at all, I'd say the more help he has finding the correct responses, in the shortest timeframe possible, the better.

At 10:13 am, Blogger moonduster said...

I believe in parents taking the time to help their kids with their homework, but it is important to let them learn, not just to do it for them.

And their artwork belongs to them.

At 12:16 pm, Blogger Barb D said...

As a teacher and a parent, my opinion depends on 1) the age of the child, 2)the subject matter, and 3) the wishes of the teacher.

Every school year, I talk with the teacher about their feelings about homework. Some teachers give homework as practice. Some teachers give homework to check a child's mastery. Often they use it for both. If you ask, teachers will often tell you if they'd like to see what errors children are making or if they'd like the parents to check and/or correct (or have the child correct).

However, if a teacher is simply using homework for practice, a child is going to learn incorrectly if they continue to make the same mistakes. As a wonderful teacher once told me: Practice makes permanent, not perfect. If you always do one particular math problem wrong, and it's not corrected at the moment, you will continue to make the same mistake.

For my younger child (2nd grade), I normally will point out mistakes, helping but not correcting. For my older teens (9th grade), I do not get involved unless they ask for help.

Unless a teacher has specified they want parents to check homework, I normally stop checking homework around middle school.

As for artwork or projects, I will help them with their thought process (if they ask or are stuck) and with any particular aspect they can't or shouldn't do (handle certain materials, cut with sharp tools, etc.). Other than that, it is their creation, not mine.

At 3:38 pm, Anonymous Barbara said...

I believe strongly that homework is their work. As long as it gets done, as long as they're really making an effort, I never corrected.

And don't even get me started on the artwork. When my son was in second grade, they had a project to do. There were maybe 5 kids in the whole class who did their own work. The rest of them, the parents did. It was completely obvious, too. Artwork is a creative process. I held the glue gun, but my son told me where to use it.

At 5:56 pm, Blogger Mrs. Chili said...

Oh, dear; it seems I'm in the minority already.

Bodog, please don't hate me, but I'm siding with your bride here. I have no problem with telling my girls to "look over your answer to question six again, please," but I'm not going to correct it for them.

As far as the artwork goes, LEAVE IT ALONE! We resent the HELL out of parents who go around and "fix" their children's projects when we've let our girls do theirs all by themselves. It's patently obvious exactly WHO built that teepee, isn't it? Let the kid have the experience; one doesn't have to be turning out professional-quality work in third grade.

At 10:53 am, Anonymous Tropicando said...

[Ok this is a long ramble, I know, but you pressed my buttons.]

Love you Blue, but I side with Mr. Evil Genius. Do you tell them to tie their shoelaces or do you say, if they trip they'll figure it out. Maybe the teacher will tie the shoelace in class. Or maybe the administration will say let's put all these ones on the velcro shoe track.

Ok, here in California I'm constantly disappointed with schools. I 'm amazed kids learn English or anything at all. I know a guy that can't read, non-Californian though, not an immigrant. Interestingly even the worse students can count money. When I was a kid my mom would make me translate a Spanish geography book to English, and a California History book to English. In high school I knew more than kids who took the California History class and the California History fieldtrip. I knew about Calafia, I knew the term, hydraulic mining- field trippers did not.

In Geography I could finish assignments before the teacher had finished handing it out to the class- without the atlas. I felt smug, and then shocked that classmates could not find Los Angeles- where we lived. I remember a Geography teacher surprised his daughter didn't know stuff he thought she should know- because she was at a what he thought was a pretty good school.

I think some families rely too much on teachers, because they figure they should leave it to the experts. This is why I admire some Asian families. They have the utmost respect for teachers, but they'll still go out an get additional tutoring, sign kids up at special Asian schools.

Let's do this homework experiment/walk-thru scenario.. Mom sees mistake hopes baby sees it... Baby misses it....Teacher goes over errors with all 15 to 35 kids...Baby sees the number, but still knows not why...Teacher hopes most everyone got it....On to next lesson...back at the ranch Mom thinks teacher fix everything...New homework...Mom sees mistake hopes Baby sees it...Mom does Jedi wave, and says, take another peek honey...Baby misses it...

In another way I am saying that arguing let-the-kid-figure-it-out-by-himself VS correct-the-kid is academic if schools are turning out know nothings anyway. If you want to check Mr Evil Genius' methods whether the kid is learning there is no rule that says you can't follow up and re-test them yourself. Unfair? Life will retest them for this knowledge anyway.

Ok, Time, you might say it's too much time. I think there is a cultural thing here. I will tell you that where I live working class people bust their derrieres. At the end of the day some workers might say, “Oh hell no, I'm too tired to go to English Adult Classes. The Man has been driving me all day! I just want a beer and a little TV”. Others will diligently, eagerly, happily walk in the night in their work clothes to those very same classes; because to them it's like they're giving away gold bricks. Free libraries, free school, what a deal. It's a different attitude toward education and the making of time for it.

Anyway, think of Mr. Evil Genius as additional tutoring. The kid must understand the corrections. I agree a lot with Jezwyn except that I'm afraid teachers might become subconsciously biased toward downsizing grades if teacher gets idea it's not kids work. And by the way, is the teacher good if baby has so many mistakes in homework?

At 11:05 am, Anonymous Tropicando said...

I made a boo-boo.
I meant to say I translated the Califonia History book to SPANISH.

At 11:12 am, Anonymous Tropicando said...

*pulling out hair now*
Correction to the correction.
I misspelled California.

(Califonia is wrong in English & Spanish)

At 11:29 am, Blogger Tilly Cat & Pip-Squeak said...

Hmmm, to me, the difference is in whether I am helping with homework because I want it to be correct "for the teacher," or because I want to help my child learn.

Thing is, imo, even if it is the teacher's job to teach my child, I don't necessarily trust everyone to do their job to the best possible level. I know my child a lot better than any teacher will, and also, I am a lot more interested in the learning oc *this* particular child. Because I know her so well, I might well explain something to her in a way that she will understand better than if the teacher did it, and because I am a lot more motivated I might well try harder than the teacher. So yes, I would go over homework with my children (but NOT do it for them.) I don't know at which age I would stop, it depends on the child I guess. And I would always make sure the teacher knows I've helped, and which bits I helped with.

At 7:35 am, Blogger MrsEvilGenius said...

Thank you, thank you, everyone for the wonderfully thoughtful and thought provoking comments! :D

I didn't think to add, for those of you who don't know me well, that my schoolies are in grades K, 1, and 2 and all are doing v. well. All 3 read and do math well above grade level so there's no worries about work.

The homework debate between bodog and myself is a genial one and is splitting hairs over - typically, at most - 1 wrong answer out of 20.:)

In reading over your comments I have come to the conclusion that, in actuality, I AM 'teaching' in my own way by observing the process in situ, asking questions, and making subtle suggestions to look over things again. My style just differs from Bodog's.

LOL, Tropicando! Just because a parent isn't sitting down with a red pen and going over each page of homework, doesn't equal vacant-eyed Momma sitting in curlers in front of the television w/ a cigarrette dangling from her lips and a beer in one hand!

You guys rawk! Thanks so much for the replies! :D


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