It’s time for another Ask Dr. Leman: “Should we help with homework after stopping school for 2 years?” Find out Dr. Leman’s answer in today’s episode.


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Doug: Travel abroad, two years, no work, kids in a van across the United States and Europe. Ah, sounds delightful. But what do you do when you come back to reality and you have to put those kids back in school? What do we do? What do we not do as parents? That’s the question that Tina asked today. How much should we help? How do we agree on how we’re going to help them after we’ve taken a two year hiatus? Hi, I’m Doug Triponi.

Andrea: And I’m Andrea.

Doug: We are so, so glad that you joined us today. And we just want to let you know if this is your first time, this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or a child, please go seek a local professional for help. Well, Tina’s question today is about traveling abroad for two years. Doesn’t that sound great, Andrea?

Andrea: Yeah.

Doug: I would have loved to do that. Well, not two years. That would have been too long, and then thinking about all the little animals. Okay, so Dr. Leman, we’re going to jump right into this one. Here is Tina’s question.

Tina: Hello Dr. Leman. My name is Tina [Leehome] and I have been reading your books and listening to your podcasts for years now. I first got your book, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, like over 12 years ago at a book club and I didn’t even have kids yet. And I remember that just changed my whole life to read that book. I have a question about homework. I have kids that are now 12, 10, 8 and almost 5, and we did a two year traveling trip. We took two years off and we traveled six months in the United States and then we traveled a year and a half in Europe in an RV. And we started to do school at first, but then we felt that it was taking away from the journey of the trip. So we stopped doing school.

Tina: And now we have started the kids in school in a public school, but it’s a small town community and I’m having a really hard time. My husband and I aren’t agreeing on how we should be helping them in school. And I know your official stand on homework is letting them do it and coming to us, but I feel like right now that we need to be partially their teacher because they didn’t get this and they’re having a lot of catch-up. I just would love some clarity on how to help our kids catch up and-

Doug: And get their homework done. So.

Dr. Leman: Wow. Okay. Wow. Well at first when I heard this, I have to tell you, I pictured the early ’70s, a Volkswagen van with painted flowers on the side of it that said flower power. But having a listen to Tina, I guess that wasn’t the case and it was a challenge, but you referred back to the book Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours, which by the way has sold over a million copies for a reason. If you have troubles with your kids, there’s a great book to pick up, Making Children Mind Without Losing Yours. But one of the big things in that book, Tina, is take time for training. And here’s what you guys have done, and I’m sure you thought about this before you took this two year hiatus from life, so to speak, especially school life, but you’ve broken training. That’s one of the things you’re experiencing now about trying to get the kids back into school.

Dr. Leman: Kids develop self confidence and a psychological security from the mundane, from the predictable, going to school every day, doing homework every day, having a bedroom to call your own. All those mundane things help kids grow up in a secure manner. Now as adventurous as six months traveling here and then six months in Europe sounds, and that’s an education, I’ll give you that, we’ve taken away from the formal teaching. So now when you come back, and I understand well that you’ve read my book well and understand that I really think parents should stay out of homework, but this isn’t a case of staying out of homework. This is a case of giving your kids tutorial help in the home. And yes, both of you can do that, husband and wife can do that, or if you’ve got the bucks to hire somebody else to do it for you, so be it, but it really isn’t a matter of just homework. It’s a matter of tutoring.

Dr. Leman: The catch up was used a few moments ago and your kids in all probability have some catching up to do. I would say especially your eight year old, if I had to pick one child, because they missed some really interesting building blocks along the educational highway of life. So it’s really important that you and husband get to a point where you agree. I wouldn’t split hairs on homework. I would just take it on as this is tutoring, catching up tutoring that we have to do to get our kids up to grade level. Now since you’re in a public school, the kids are tested and it would really behoove you to know exactly where your kids are grade level wise. In public schools for the most part, it’s not hard to catch up because we’ve dumbed a lot of things down quite frankly. Now I know that’s a wide brush and I’m going to get some nasty emails on that, but across the board in general, we’ve dumbed things down in public schools.

Dr. Leman: So find out from the teaching staff where your kids are so you know how much of a gap there is to make up. Now, you might be surprised that one of these kids, or maybe two of them are on grade level right now. Who knows? But wherever they are, they’re going to have to catch up to the routine, if nothing else, of being disciplined to come home from school, do their homework. And again, we’ve talked about that on our podcast. Every family is different, every kid’s different, but most kids that I talk to and I talk with a lot of kids, they want to get that homework done right away. In fact, a lot of them told me they do it in the car on the way home or on the bus on the way home because they want their free time to be their free time.

Dr. Leman: So for starters, again, I don’t think you look at this as homework. I think you look at this as tutorial help to do some catching up. Plus the assessment on the school’s part and your interpretation of that is very important as to how you move forward. But again, husband or wife, whatever the differences are, Tina, you guys got to be on the same page or the kids are going to pick up that dissension and they’re going to use that to their advantage, which is actually going to end up to their disadvantage.

Andrea: I was going to ask you, Dr. Leman, how would you advise Tina to get on the same page with her husband?

Dr. Leman: Well number one, she has to be honest with her feelings toward her husband’s attitude toward this. Men are like kids. I’ve said that so many times. Kids don’t like it when they know that mom or dad is upset. Right? Well guess what? Husbands don’t like it when they know their wives are upset. So you start at that emotional level to get that man on board when he sees how important this is to you. So simple words, “Honey, I’m very upset. I feel a distance between you that I don’t like.” Men don’t like to hear distance between themselves and their wife because they interpret that in a very physical, emotional way. So now you got his attention. Tell him why you’re upset. Tell him what doesn’t sound right about this. And yes, you can precede it with, “Honey, I could be wrong on this, but,” you can soften it, but you still have to tell them as straight out as you can. You know your husband better than anybody else, so you know how to approach him. You know what works, you know what doesn’t work. So proceed with caution.

Doug: Also, at other times you’ve said even if your kids maybe aren’t doing super great in school, but they’re a reader, you don’t have to worry about them. So she has a 12 year old. Does that apply to a 12 year old?

Dr. Leman: If that 12 year old is a voracious reader, I wouldn’t bat an eye at what’s happened. That kid will fall in line sooner or later. If they’re a voracious reader, they’re going to do very well in school. That’s the building block. Show me a voracious reader who likes math and I’ll show you a successful person throughout life.

Doug: Yeah. I think about our oldest, was an okay student. I wouldn’t have called him great, but loved to read. And now he’s super excelling on his own. He learned how to work and he loves to read, but school was not his top 10 forte. What about-

Dr. Leman: Well see, but it wouldn’t surprise me someday if James went and tackled a PhD.

Doug: I agree.

Dr. Leman: For that very reason, that he’s a voracious reader.

Doug: Right, yeah. And he likes to learn. I mean far more than anything else, he wants to learn on his own, which has been huge, and nobody has to motivate him to do it. Okay. Before we finish, I want to make sure that I get in and let you know about the e-book promotion. So the e-book promotion offer is What a Difference a Mom Makes. You can get it now to the end of February of 2020 for $2 and 99 cents. So Andrea, do you want to make a difference in your kid’s life?

Andrea: Absolutely.

Doug: And what the thing about, I should have … Dr. Leman, what will a mom get out of reading this book if she does?

Dr. Leman: Well, first of all, mom, I wrote the book, so I’m biased as can be. Go on Amazon and put the title out there. And just read the reviews. Moms are shocked to read, I think, the tremendous indelible imprint that they put on their son’s life. So when they read that book, they’re going to have, I think, a renewed energy of how they can help chart the waters for their young son to be the man that God would have him be, that you’d be proud to have as your son. But you’re a key element. I always said it’s like making a cake and you’ve got to have all those major ingredients in the cake or the cake falls flat. Well, every young man needs a good dose of femininity. He doesn’t get that from his dad, ladies, he gets it from you.

Doug: Yeah, and I would highly encourage you to go look at Amazon and read what they have to say as well. So, you can get it now, What a Difference a Mom Makes, between now and the end of February for $2 and 99 cents. So Dr. Leman, you used the word tutoring versus actually doing the work. For this mom, for Tina, how would tutoring look for her? Or are you saying hire a tutor to help their kids? Which one is it?

Dr. Leman: It’s not homework. It’s, number one, remember I said about the assessment? You have the assessment. And let’s say you find out that eight year old is a grade and a half behind. So you go to school and say, “You guys are the educational professionals here. My kid is a year and a half shy of where they need to be. What do I have to present to my son or my daughter to help them bridge that gap? How do we catch up?” They’ll give you the resources. They’re right there at the school. They’re at the public school. Here are the books. Here’s the gap. And so it’s not sitting down and doing homework with the kid every night. It’s tutorial. It’s getting a kid from A to B to C to D. So you’re strengthening their reserve power so they get to catch up.

Dr. Leman: Talk to any professional. When a kid gets too far behind, it’s really difficult for kids to catch up. So if it’s just a grade or a half grade, that’s very, very doable. So I think that’s great. I think that can happen. The school will help you. They always tell us they’re here to work together with parents and partner with parents. This is a great opportunity for them to partner with you. On top of that, you might have teachers at the school who have, we call them scholar hours at our school at Leman Academy, where a teacher makes themselves available for kids that need extra help and that also should be part of the program. The kids have to understand that that two year hiatus probably took a toll and it’s really important that we make that up.

Doug: Do you think the mom ever needs to, Tina needs to ever sit down with her kids and talk to them and say, “Hey, how are you feeling at school? Do you feel awkward? Are there any emotional barriers to having to get back into the routine that we need to talk about,” or not?

Dr. Leman: Sure because two years … Let’s take a five year old for example, three to five. What percentage of that kid’s life has been in school?

Doug: Zero.

Andrea: They’re probably just starting out now.

Dr. Leman: Yeah. Now jump up to the eight year old and take two years out of that, and depending upon that kid did preschool or not, give the percentage of time that kid has missed school. It’s huge. That’s why when you saw those ages there, I said the one that’s most probably going to suffer here is the eight year old, would be my guess.

Doug: Well I know that you have been for years suggesting tutoring and getting outside help and we’re finally helping our kids with tutoring, and we should have done it years ago. It’s so helpful for our kids and I’ve become a big proponent now of it. So you are actually right on something, Dr. Leman. I know usually you’re not, but this time you’re actually right. And so I would encourage you. Tina, so get on the same page with your husband. Talk to him at an emotional level so he can hear it. Go to the school, which is brilliant. I mean, it’s so simple, right? Go to the school and say, “What do we need do to help this kid get there,” as well. And if need be, get tutoring that you need for it.

Doug: So, great question, Tina. Thanks for asking it. As always, you guys can go to and slash podcast question and leave a question there. And we would love, love, love, love to answer your questions. So we hope this helps you add to that parenting toolbox so that you can love those kids more and more. We look forward to the next time we’re with you.

Andrea: Have a good week.

Doug: Take care. Bye, bye.