Have you ever gotten the sense that most homework policies are drafted with one- or two- kid families in mind?  I’ve spent A LOT of time lately searching out and reading different homework policies from all over the place, and most of them have several things in common.  One is some variation of “Parents’ Responsibilities” – also called “Helpful Hints For Parents” in just about any article you can find regarding homework – which instructs parents to:

  • provide their child with a quiet place to do homework,
  • minimize distractions, like TV, phone calls, and siblings
  • keep supplies (paper, pencil, etc.) within reach
  • go over the homework directions with their child beforehand, and stay close enough to be of assistance (but don’t do the work for the child)

Oftentimes, parents are also instructed, if not by article or school policy, then by the teacher, to go over the homework with the child after it’s completed to check for accuracy and completeness.

Seriously?  So I’m supposed to explain the homework to my child, and correct it?  What purpose does that serve?  To show what a good stand-in teacher I am?  Okay, I digress.

Back to my point: in order to help our children be successful homework-doers, we parents need to arrange things in order to create optimal homework conditions for our child.  I get the spirit in which this is suggested: I’m sure it is easier to get a kid to do their homework if they have all these conditions met.  The problem is, these expectations place an undue burden on some families.  Families like mine: I have seven kids, including a child with special needs who is currently displaying some pretty challenging behavioral issues, as well as a very demanding baby.  There is absolutely no way to keep everyone separated and distraction-free in the afternoons.

Now, I understand that not every family has the same specific challenges that my family has – and I certainly don’t expect our district’s homework policy to be written specifically to cater to my family’s needs.  However, my point is that those guidelines don’t work for many families – for a variety of reasons, be they living conditions, number of kids, or, hey – what about families with two parents who work outside the home?

The bottom line is that this is another example of the responsibility of schoolwork being placed inappropriately on parents.