This statement may sound harsh but it’s the conclusion Keith Robinson, a sociology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and Angel L. Harris, a sociology professor at Duke came to after conducting multiple research investigations. In their book – The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement With Children’s Education – they write about the possible harmful consequences of helping children with their homework assignments.
They explain how most of what an average parent would consider being helpful turn against him and his kids by drawing some specific examples. We all got used to getting involved in the school life of our children and are convinced that they need our participation in their educational process. We are encouraged to do that by the government and almost every book dedicated to upbringing children. As it turns out, we are not only helping by being too active and supportive but can cause destructive outcomes. The research showed that your involvement as a parent in the educational process doesn’t help your children improve their academic performance. And there are several reasons for that.
What Harm Can You Do?
The thought that our help can harm our kids seems improbable. But there can be too much of control from your side that can lead to frustration. When you ask them for a thousandth time if they have finished their homework and punish them for not coping with it on time or for the bad marks, you take the excitement of studying away from them. Every person doesn’t like to get criticized and doing homework shouldn’t be the cause of your children’s frustration.
One more point is that some parents don’t recall nor understand the material their children have to study. They are likely to make things even worse than they already are by trying to give an explanation of something they don’t get. And getting the feedback from your kids is crucial. Simply ask them if they need you to get more involved in their studies, attend classes, and become a volunteer at the school. You’ll know for sure if your interference in the process will be helpful or not.
Provide Them with a Real Example
Most of the parents want to communicate the importance of education to their children. That is why they often start conversations about the significance of getting good grades and getting into college. According to Robinson and Harris, it has no influence on the children’s success in the future. We might believe that the families with low income didn’t pay enough attention to the kids which led to the poor results at school. But there might be a completely different reason to that. The kids from middle- and upper-class families don’t only hear about the importance of education but see the real examples of it communicating with their parents’ friends. Having a conversation with a physicist, engineer, doctor, etc. is far more useful than listening to you talking about some ephemeral examples.
The most interesting thing is another small investigation the authors did. They’ve asked successful undergraduate students to recollect what kind of influence did their parents have on their studies. The results showed that they don’t recall their parents getting involved in that part of their life. But it’s for everyone to find that perfect balance of being supportive and not too pushy.