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Homework Helpers        < Previous


When Parents Do Homework


Q. I overheard a mom talking on her cell phone in the grocery store about how "all" the other parents in her child's class are doing their kids' homework for them, since they all want their kid's project to be the best, and they've got the kids involved in too many sports and outside activities for them to have time to do their own homework. I was pretty shocked. Is this going on a lot?


If you believe a survey done by, yes, it is going on a lot. In the survey, 43% of parents nationwide admitted that they do their children's homework for them. The South appears to be the part of the country where this happens the most, with an 87% rate, at least as reported in the survey.


The survey found that fathers were more likely than mothers to do their child's work, and that rich parents were more likely to do it than poor parents.


A lot of this is probably driven by the change in teaching methods brought by the federal educational policies that require more standardized testing. Teachers feel stress about making sure their students are prepared for those high-stakes tests, and so the homework seems to be more boring and laborious than in past decades.


Some parents say that teachers are giving too much homework, and expecting too much from kids who are tired after a long school day, and that's why they justify doing the work for their kids.


Some parents are so stressed out handling their full-time jobs and household responsibilities - and are so weak in their own parenting skills and philosophies - that they do the homework just because it's quicker to do it themselves than it is to hold the child's feet to the fire and MAKE the child do it.


Competitiveness is also a factor, especially in affluent suburban parents who want their children's GPA to be tops so that they can get into an exclusive college.


Some parents who have personal problems also tend to live vicariously through their children and over-identify with their school assignments, and kind of move in on their child's tasks, taking them on to try to prop up their own flagging self-esteem when "their" paper or diorama or science project gets an A and so forth.


Teachers are correct when they say that every time a parent does what the child should be doing, the parent is weakening the child, not strengthening him or her. Your child will lose out on learning valuable time management, discipline and goal-setting skills. Plus, it's dishonest, and that's the main thing. Parents who do their children's homework for them are teaching them to cheat.


Teachers suggest this: be a coach for your child's homework. Set up a homework area in your home, and household rules, that will support success and homework completion. Go ahead and help if there is a problem, but only on a supportive basis. Never take the lead! Ask questions, but do not supply answers. Show where the answers can be found. Demonstrate a skill, but do not do the whole thing or even a large part of it for the child. Quiz the child before tests . . . but make it your goal that every academic product that comes out of that child's head really is that child's, not yours.


THEN you've accomplished the main goal of homework - making sure the work that gets done in the home is the child's.



Homework: A radical solution might be to do away with homework altogether, teach parents more about the curriculum, and lead them in ways to expand their child's learning experiences and skills in their hours and days off school, saving a lot of frustration and time-wasting. However, this is chancey, since so many parents are not likely to change their ways. A blogger who is passionate about this idea is


By Susan Darst Williams Homework 12 2008


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