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Hands off homework

Dawn Gibson
Saturday, August 02, 2014

AS IT turns out, it may actually help - as parents and guardians - not to constantly assist children with their homework, or get too involved with school activities.

That's the view of the Ministry of Education, which backed a study carried out by two academics from the University of Texas and Duke University that examined the importance of parents not overly being involved in the academic lives of their children.

Education permanent secretary Dr Brij Lal said parents must step back and allow their children to grow.

The research - which tracked 63 different measures of parental participation in the academic lives of their children, from helping them with homework, to talking with them about college plans, to volunteering at their schools - was published in The Atlantic and supported by educationists.

It found that measurable forms of parental involvement ended up in "few academic dividends for kids, or even to backfire - regardless of a parent's race, class, or level of education".

"Other essentially useless parenting interventions (are) observing a kid's class, helping a teenager choose high-school courses and, especially, disciplinary measures such as punishing kids for getting bad grades or instituting strict rules about when and how homework gets done."

Additional results - and ones which were on a more positive note - suggested that it was important to read out loud to children, as well as get them excited about college studies.

"They did find a handful of habits that make a difference, such as reading aloud to young kids and talking with teenagers about college plans."

Consultant psychologist Selina Kuruleca said reading was an essential part of a child's learning.

"Reading at home daily by parents, grandparents and primary caregivers is essential for child development, creativity and thirst for exploration and creativity. Getting excited for college, yes, though the reality on the ground is that many households are worrying about the here and now and don't have set plans or strategies for after high school."

Dr Lal yesterday told this newspaper that parents must act as guides.

"Some degree of assistance and guidance is necessary from parents, but not actually doing the real work, but to guide them is important," Dr Lal said.

"Reading aloud is a good thing ... and it's always nice to tell children that we would want them to grow up and go to university, so they are told in their young days."

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