bipolar mom shares her insights on everyday life

Posts tagged ‘homework’

Whirrrr…Whirrrr…

Okay, that was supposed to be the sound of helicopter rotors.  Did anyone think that?  Oh, well. Titles are tough. Moving on…

I am having trouble deciding how to balance between being a mom who lets her kids learn responsibility on their own and being a helicopter parent.

My son is a Freshman. I asked one of my son’s teachers if hounding him to do an ongoing project was “helicoptering.” She was very vague. So, in other words, not helpful. But, then again she’s probably half my age and doesn’t have kids. She said things like, “If he would work on his project for an hour a day instead of waiting until the last minute, that would be beneficial.” Well, duh. My question is, “Do I treat him like I did when he was in elementary school and tell him, ‘You can’t be with your friends until you complete an hour on this project?'” Does that teach him independence?

My daughter is different. She’s doing very well in school. In most classes. One class she is bombing. I don’t know how to help her. We study for the test (it’s math, by the way), and she gets it. She takes the test and BOOM! Bad news. I asked her how her homework grade can be 100%, then get so many wrong on the test. Apparently, the homework is just an “effort” grade. If you do the homework, you get 100%, regardless of how well you do on it. Well, that explains why the homework doesn’t figure into the final grade, but it’s a little misleading.

But, she’s in 7th grade. I don’t have as much of an issue with making her sit down and work on the math with me each day. She’s still learning “the ropes.” But, am I doing the Freshman any good by “mothering” him? In just 3 1/2 years, he’ll be in college. On his own. Certainly as far as studying goes.  His grades are good. No complaints. Do I just let it go?

When I was in MOPS (Mothers of PreSchoolers), someone said, “When your kids get older, it doesn’t get easier. It just gets different.”  Amen, sister!

Teaching a Teenager New Tricks

Seriously.  I’m sure I’m not alone on this one.

My son is now 13 and an excellent student.  Normally, he does his homework without any problems or help.  Sometimes, he will ask us to check his answers, or ask for clarification of a question, normal stuff like that. 

Aside from Pre-Algebra, that is.  Math not being his strong suit, he struggles to understand the concepts, formulas, etc.  Fortunately, he has Tom and me to help him out.  I’m a freak of nature that actually loves to do Algebraic equations.  He brings his work home, and I’m all over it.  Freak.  I’m aware of it.  Let it go.  Oh, and the teaching abilities of his teacher are in question.  Mark is not alone in coming home and not having a clue what is going on.  Then, when I try to explain it to him (in the way I was taught), I get the comment I dread, “That’s not the way Mr. Educator does it.”  Even though, he doesn’t have a clue what Mr. Educator does do, it sure ain’t what I’m doing.  (And, no, his name is not “Mr. Educator.”  Duh.)  Oh, and apparently, there is a THIRD method, which is what the book teaches.  So, as I explained to Mark yesterday, “You can either do it my way or Mr. Educator’s way.  But, you don’t know how to do it Mr. Educator’s way, and he’s not here.  Your choice.”  Surprise, Surprise.  He went with my way.

But, that is not what this blog is really about.  It’s about thinking for himself.  Last night he came and asked me what Puerto Rico’s relationship is with the US.  Uh, well, you see…(Look, I know Puerto Rico is a commonwealth.  That’s it.  And, I got that from some teaching game Mark had when he was little.  I took Geography on Pass/Fail in college.  You get the drift.  Not my strong suit.)  So, I tell him so.  (Not about the college thing.  I don’t want him to know there is such a thing as Pass/Fail.  Not yet.)  I said, “Yeah, well, you know, geography and government are not my strong suit.  I really don’t know anything about it.  Sorry.”  He then sat there outside my room and just looked at me.  I said, “What are you doing?” 

“Waiting.” 

“For what?” 

 “For help.” 

Now, Tom was at a meeting, and he most likely knew enough to help Mark out, but he wasn’t there.  So, I said, “Well, I told you I don’t know anything about this.  I can’t help you if I don’t know anything.” 

Still sitting there.  “Mark, what are you going to do?”

“I don’t know what to do.”

Okay.  I’m about to blow a gasket.  But, instead I turn my attention to my daughter, who has been practically ignored since she got home from school because of the Pre-Algebra help session going on in our kitchen.  He finally left.

Now, when I was in school, (geez, I sound like an old geezer.  “In my day…”) if we didn’t know something we looked it up in the encyclopedia.  (I didn’t even have a full set of encyclopedias.  I had to go to the neighbor’s house to borrow hers.  And, it was uphill.  Both ways!)  Kids have it so easy now.  They can look it up on the internet.  But, what killed me was that he didn’t even think to do that.  He was stuck after he heard the words, “I can’t help you.” 

I know I’m a near genius, and he should expect me to know all things, but once in awhile concepts slip past me, and I miss something.  Seriously, this just blew my mind.  Was I honestly supposed to say aloud “LOOK IT UP!”?  I don’t think so.  This kid is so internet-friendly, I’m surprised he bothered to even ask me. 

After I took Karen to dance, I came home and asked him if he had found the answer to the question.  He said, “Yeah.  I looked it up in the book.”  Genius.

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