Most of the childhood is spent in studying one or other thing. We can’t do much about it as this is the system we have designed and accepted. Looking at the fierce competition children end up taking part during education, it becomes important for parents to participate in studies. Lots of homework, preparation for examination, preparation for competitions, and so many other things require parents attention. But what role parents should play in this activity? Should we complete homework, and children get appreciation for that in school? Should we keep scolding them to complete the home study? Should parents take more tension if child sleeps early on exam night? Is this the correct way? Or parents should just be the facilitator, some one who builds confidence of children and makes them to take responsibility of their task, makes them independent? How it should be…? What should be study habits of children?
Recently, I came across a story where a teacher asked a student, who is very regular in completing his homework, about his failure to complete homework on that day. The answer that student gave is very interesting – “Yesterday, my mother slept early because she was not feeling well, hence my homework is incomplete”. The teacher could not believe. If we leave humor part of it aside, the situation is worth thinking, worth analysing and relating. How many times we have to play some kind of role in children’s homework completion? Almost every alternate day, right? Just imagine, we have come from office, we are tired, and the child comes to you, and requests to help in finishing homework. Child and parents, both, have to get rid of the homework task as soon as possible. Hence only option we choose is – play almost 100% role in homework completion. We dictate and the child writes. Thinking part is done by us, and the child is writer, to ensure her handwriting in homework book, without thinking. Slightly different case is while preparing child for examination or for certain competition. Here what to prepare, what to focus, how to complete preparation effectively, how to complete, etc., is identified by the parents. Child just does what she is being told to do.
Now we analyse this scenario in detail to identify what we achieved, what we missed to achieve, and what could have been done better. We achieved completing the task in time, sometimes even before time. The child is happy because homework, or the preparation is done. She is saved in front of entire class from consequences of not doing. Parents are happy because they are not going to get any complaint from school. They are going to get some extra time to relax, to watch TV, or do some other task. But what about the over all effectiveness of that homework, exam/competition preparation activity? That activity is planned to introduce certain knowledge, thinking ability, and many more qualities in child, we definitely fail on that front to a large extent. You might want to ask how?
The answer is simple – we are not letting child to do thinking part in that activity. That activity may also require some planning, strategizing, tracking, etc. qualities. We are doing all those for the child. What is result? – the child hardly gets chance to learn those. If those qualities are not learned/used, how will the child exhibit those in later part of life? How will those improve in future? There is definitely going to be big struggle when the child has to face problems requiring these qualities.
In addition to this, there is one very important aspect, the child will not learn taking responsibility of things. Homework is responsibility of child. Accuracy and quality of homework is responsibility of child. If we do not allow the child complete it on own, how will she own the activity. Simple observation is, even in grown up people, if something is owned by a person, that person puts best thought and effort to make it better. Same applies to children also. If the homework or preparation is owned by child, there will be thinking, strategizing, planning, and what not to make it better. Also, when someone asks any question on the completed thing, the child can answer it better with confidence.
Here is one more very interesting consequence of parents doing child’s work, when the work gets appreciation, will the child be able to claim 100% of it? Will she feel proud of oneself? There will always be some amount of feeling that will change the child’s body language to show less than 100% happy and proud. She will still have question in mind – Will I be able to do it again if asked? Here the confidence of child is gone for a toss. So should we actually play so much role in child’s work? Answer is no. But it does not mean we should leave child on own. This is also not correct. We have to strike balance. We have to play role of facilitator or coach. A facilitator or coach, who helps child to complete work on own, who lets those qualities to develop in child. How?
There is no hard and fast process of doing this. I doubt if some one can come up with a 5 step guide to achieve it. But, we can keep this in mind when we enter such a situation. When we want to ensure child completes homework, we can just ask questions about details of homework completion. We can even go through the homework and give overall feedback. We can comment on quality and ask if the child can improve the quality further. If there is something wrong, then asking the child to find out the incorrect thing can introduce reviewing ability. Same applies to preparation for examination, competition. We can ask questions about the approach to prepare for examination. Then pointing out if all aspects are considered. What the child can do more to perform still better? etc. There can many questions on case to case basis. Just keep in mind, God is in details.
Such questions will trigger the required thought process in child’s mind. Once you introduce this thought process, the child is going to carry it into all activities and throughout the life. The child will try to think different aspects of that activity and how to do those better. Even there will be some very interesting strategies can be seen in children.
But wait, it is not going to be one day process. It is going to take time. Sometimes child may get irritated by questions, you may have to take a bit different stand there. But slowly it will change the thing. After some days, child will come and confirm how she is going to do some task assigned in school. You will just be a reviewer. One can clearly see ownership transferred to child, and even child enjoying it, feeling proud of achivement in true sense.