Friday, January 23, 2015

A Heavier Hand on Homework "child of immigrant" commitment to education manifests itself in many ways.  Random conversations turn into math problems, opportunities to lecture are rarely passed up, and extra homework sheets get printed out for the weekend. 

But one way I had not played the stereotypical "Tiger Mom" role was in school homework.  There I have tended to take a hands-free approach.  It's my kids' job to remember to do it, to do it, to check it, and to deal with the consequences of not doing it or not doing it right.  Hovering doesn't help teach responsibility, and the sting of a bad grade is a better indicator of where you fall short than having your parent correct you in the comfort of your own home.  Many studies back me up on this.

However, I'm realizing I may need to have a heavier hand.  Earlier this week, Jada came home with quizzes that she got C's in.  She had no explanation for why she did so poorly.  And when I checked her homework that night, she did even worse.  I could tell she wasn't even trying and she didn't even care.  She's into her music now, and blitzing through homework - even if everything is incorrect - gets her to her tunes faster than if she actually takes the time to learn what is being assigned.

I sat her down and told her that "bright" and "smart" are two different things.  She's definitely bright - whip fast, picks up things quick, has a good brain in her head - but the jury is still out on whether she is smart.  Because, as I explained to her, "smart" means working at something until you get it.  I've read a lot about how kids who think "smart" is an innate thing will stall when they are faced with something they don't instantly master, and that the truly smart kids are the ones who believe "smart" is about putting the work in to learn something that you don't immediately grasp.  That's the kind of kid I want my kids to be. 

My apathy about homework translates into hers.  So Amy and I are doubling down on homework checking.  We want our kids to know putting in the work, fixing mistakes, and getting it right are important things to put effort into.  Especially as the homework gets harder and more voluminous, they'll both need our support in slogging through it and our signaling to them that the slogging is worth doing.
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