Thursday, November 19, 2009

Am I a helicopter parent?

I wonder if people think that we are because we are homeschooling. I wonder if real helicopter parents have kids who make satelites out of magnets. Sure, it's to destroy the enemy and maybe a planet, but I surely didn't help him. I realize the kids will need to be able to fail, and learn to get over those failures. But right now they are spending plenty of time creatively making up a world of their own. They often spend three or four hours a day playing. Kids use what they have learned and reinforce it within playtime. Dr. Stuart Brown from the National Institute for Play has recognized the importance of playtime in a Time magazine article:
managers at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) noticed the younger engineers lacked problem-solving skills, though they had top grades and test scores. Realizing the older engineers had more play experience as kids — they'd taken apart clocks, built stereos, made models — JPL eventually incorporated questions about job applicants' play backgrounds into interviews. "If you look at what produces learning and memory and well-being" in life, Brown has argued, "play is as fundamental as any other aspect.'' The American Academy of Pediatrics warns that the decrease in free playtime could carry health risks: "For some children, this hurried lifestyle is a source of stress and anxiety and may even contribute to depression." Not to mention the epidemic of childhood obesity in a generation of kids who never just go out and play

There is also concern from teachers that kids never learn to do their own work. Well, I can say that my kids do all their own work. I'm sure not going to it for them. As I write this Abraham is finishing his report on invertebrates. It may not be spelled completely correctly, so my decision is whether to have him correct it or let it be. I do sincerely struggle with this point. Is this when I should let go, or should I help him to understand that the work isn't done until it's perfect. But I also don't want to swoop in and fix it for him. With math I have them keep working on a problem until it is correct. That is how is works out in the world, you keep at it until it's right. Well, this may be a mental burp, but just the thoughts whirling around my head.

On another subject, Esther has learned how to say "down" and "thank you." And they actually sound like the words. Amazing, right?! Okay, so not so much. But I am happy that she is trying to communicate.


Anonymous said...

To answer your first question: Definitely not! Spending a lot of time with your children does not equate to being a helicopter parent. It's more about whether or not children have space to try things on their own, and maybe even fail and learn from their mistakes in the process.

You're doing a wonderful job as a mom and teacher! :)

As for the last question, yes, Esther's new words are amazing! Just like Aurelia using the potty her very first try last night was a way only a mom can

~Megan (who is having trouble signing into Google)

gary & kimber said...

I've never heard of helicopter parents, but it sounds like homeschooling is working great for you all! :-)