At the start of every school year, before the first homework assignment comes home, most parents give themselves the following pep talk.
“This year will be different. This year I will be patient. This year I will listen when my 4th, 5th, 6th… grader explains to me how his/her homework is ‘supposed to be done.’ And, most of all, I will not say how dumb it is do ‘this’ problem ‘that’ way and I will not get frustrated trying to learn new math as an adult.”
For me, this advice lasted until last week.
Given that my son is in 6th grade, I think making it a good four weeks into the school year shows promise. The problem that finally made me snap was some type of convoluted matrix, averaging thing that really has little to no practical use in the real world. But for my son, who for the first time is getting letter grades, it was very important. When I got frustrated, he got anxious, and the whole scene quickly spiraled into me yelling, him huffing and very little productive work getting done. Twenty minutes later, after I figured out how to do the problem, it was too late. He no longer wanted to engage and I lost my teaching moment.
Here are some tips for keeping a cool head:
- Go to a quiet place to quickly review the material and understand it in a way that you can explain it to your child.
- Remember, things that seem obvious to you, might not be obvious to your child. Make sure you slow down even if your child’s response is, “well that’s obvious, mom!”
- Don’t tell your child that you think the problem is dumb. It’s tempting, but this will only lead to resentment and frustration from both of you.
- If you don’t understand something, see if your child can explain it to you. They’ll feel great, teaching is a great way to learn a concept, and hopefully you will learn something too!
- Still need help? E-mail the problem to email@example.com
Do you have any other tips for parents? Especially those who are trying to be patient? Let us know what works (or doesn’t) for you!