Don’t Help Your Kids With Their Homework, writes Dana Goldstein in The Atlantic. And, if you do, don’t expect it to make much difference.
“Most measurable forms of parental involvement seem to yield few academic dividends for kids, or even to backfire — regardless of a parent’s race, class, or level of education,” writes Goldstein, citing research by Keith Robinson, a University of Texas sociology professor, Angel L. Harris, a Duke sociology professor.
The researchers combed through nearly three decades’ worth of longitudinal surveys of American parents and tracked 63 different measures of parental participation in kids’ academic lives, from helping them with homework, to talking with them about college plans, to volunteering at their schools.
“No clear connection exists between parental involvement and improved student performance,” they conclude in The Broken Compass.
Helping your kids with homework won’t raise their test scores, the study concluded. “Once kids enter middle school, parental help with homework can actually bring test scores down,” writes Goldstein.
What does help: Requesting a teacher with a good reputation, “reading aloud to young kids (fewer than half of whom are read to daily) and talking with teenagers about college plans.”
Robinson asked UT statistics undergrads how their parents contributed to their achievements.
He found that most had few or no memories of their parents pushing or prodding them or getting involved at school in formal ways. Instead, students described mothers and fathers who set high expectations and then stepped back.
I suspect the parent involvement that really matters happens at home. My husband’s mother told him to “be the best,” he said in her eulogy. She didn’t say, “try.” Like Yoda, she told him to do it.
If parents teach certain values — set goals and work to achieve them, take responsibility for the consequences of your actions, do your own damn homework — their children are likely to do well in school and in life. It doesn’t matter if Mom volunteers for the PTA bake sale or not.