Quick Rant: To the Parents on the Plane

Published 2/22/14 by:

Parent Homework Comic


*Author’s note: I recently traveled to Florida over Massachusetts’ February school vacation to visit my snowbird parents. This is my excuse for not posting much this week, but also gives you a preface for today’s post.


Dear Parents on the Plane,

I applaud you trying to make your kids do school work on the plane on your way to your destination because it’s a good use of time. Here’s the thing though: you’re doing it wrong.


1. Homework is a pre-assessment tool for teachers – we use it to figure out where the gaps are for our students. If you micromanage homework, and make your kid correct it all the time, then it automatically becomes useless for us educators. I love that you’re making your kid do his/her homework, but your job is to manage work completion, not guarantee its accuracy. So Dad #1 on the plane with the Catholicism workbook? Lay off. Your son’s teacher needs to know that 1) you read the entire thing aloud to him (much to my dismay), and 2) your son had to re-do every single multiple choice answer after you told him it was wrong. When his teacher sees that homework in a week, she’s going to think he’s mastered the material, but in reality: you’ve mastered it. Congratulations: you just finished the catechism requirements of your third grader (and he still has no idea what’s going on).


2. Don’t reward your kid for completing his/her homework unless you plan on doing that for the next twenty years of their education. While I understand that some kids need a light at the end of the tunnel for work completion, you need to remember that they’re like puppies: they quickly grow accustomed to treats. So, Mom #2 on the plane with the lollipops?  Cut it out. Childhood obesity is for real, and you don’t want your daughter to think that every time she completes a vocabulary worksheet she gets candy (which seemed to unfortunately already be an established expectation).


3. When your son or daughter gets stuck or frustrated with a topic on a homework assignment there are options other than forcing them through it. You could have them move on to a different assignment and come back to the original problem later (when they’re fresher), or you could have them try it for five more minutes and then initial the homework letting the teacher know it was attempted. Here’s what you shouldn’t do: have your kid give up and leave it blank, or make them keep hammering at it until they have a meltdown. Please listen to me on this. It’s really valuable information.
Best Regards,

The Middle School Teacher on the Plane

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