Yes, sometimes you do need to sit down with your child and help.

By Reginald Barbour

One of the downsides of being a parent is watching your child struggle. As much as we want to solve their problems for them, we know that we shouldn’t. Doing so would thwart their opportunities to learn critical lessons of responsibility and life. Their critical thinking skills would not have an opportunity to grow.

However, there are times when yes, you do need to sit down with your child and help.

My sons attend a private school in Washington, D.C. There is an ongoing conversation among the parents at their school around whether parents should expect to help their children with their homework when they are “paying teachers” to ensure their children are being taught. It’s a fascinating dialogue. One group of parents believe that they shouldn’t have to spend time in the evenings actually helping their children with their homework. Checking over the work to ensure that it’s correct? Yes, they are willing to do that. But actually teaching the lesson in order to help their children understand the material? That should happen in school with the teachers whose salaries are paid using tuition payments.

Then there is the other group of parents who have absolutely no issue with helping their children with homework or projects. These are the parents who share best practices and encourage study groups as reinforcements for classwork.

My wife and I are really engrossed in these conversations. One of our close friends is in the first group. She is adamant that she should not have to help her child. She shouldn’t have to research ways to help her daughter understand social studies and reading lessons. She pays tuition for that after all. But her child is struggling and she continues to ask the school “why?”

Perhaps students learn better or easier when the person delivering the information is someone they feel the most comfortable with. I always hear that parents are our children’s first teachers. If that’s the case, should we stop being their teacher once they are in school? If so, what role should we continue to play?

I believe that we are our children’s first teacher all of their lives. It’s a huge part of the role that we play as parents. I don’t mind supplementing my child’s education with sitting down with him and working through his school assignments in addition to providing additional work through online learning and/or other educational resources. In my opinion, it’s not a sacrifice of time or effort to help your child with their homework regardless of what they are or are not learning in school. And regardless of the type of school system your child attends. I don’t think we should put all of our expectation eggs in one basket and charge one person or one group of people with the mountainous task of ensuring our children are properly educated.

Parents are a part of that equation too.