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Is it OK to Do Your Child's Homework?

Academic demands are forcing many parents to resort to doing their children's homework but is doing their homework the best thing for the kids?

The number of times my parents helped me with my homework is pretty low. In fact it's a big, fat ZERO! My mom never corrected my homework or helped with a school project. The most help she would give was going over test questions to help me study for a test. That and she provided me with the resources I needed to complete said school projects.

The result? I learned to take responsibility for my own successes and failures.  She expected good grades and she showed me how to study and encouraged me but the work was mine and mine alone. So was the incredible feeling of accomplishment when I worked hard and earned a good grade.

My how things have changed in 25 years! Nowadays, it seems like parents are expected to immerse themselves in their child's education to the point of doing the work for them! Of course it's a good thing to help our children. We should encourage their learning and provide resources but I believe that doing the homework is crossing the line.

My husband and I read to our children every night. We check homework, play learning games and review test questions but homework is their responsibility.  We remind them to do it and if they don't? Too bad...they get to face the consequences for that decision and stay in for recess or get a bad grade.

Teachers aren't always supportive of our policy. Just last week I got a call from the school telling me that my fourth grader forgot her binder with her homework.  I looked over at the table and sure enough, there it was, still drizzled with pancake syrup.

"Can you bring her binder in, please?"

"Can I? Sure.  Will I, no way!"

There was a gasp on the other end of the phone and then silence. You could cut the awkwardness with a chainsaw.

"Listen, I reminded her to pack her things. She didn't do it and that was her choice. If she has to stay in for recess because she forgot her homework then so be it. She needs to take responsibility for her actions or lack thereof."

The woman cleared her throat and said, "OK."

I felt the pangs of guilt, those pains that come when you have to make a decision that allows your children to fall on their face for the sake of it being good for them.

I recently read an article promoting a parent's hand off approach to homework and one woman wrote:

"What would happen if we stopped helping our kids with homework? The kids would get punished at school for their incomplete homework. Then they would become anxious and depressed. Let’s find a way of going about it that doesn’t hurt our kids."

Punished at school? C'mon. It's not like they shackle the kids to a wall of shame and hit them with a switch. The worst that could happen is the kid loses a privilege like recess or gets a bad grade. And really? The kids are going to get depressed and anxious because they got a bad grade?

If you're going for the approach of never holding your children accountable for their homework then you better be prepared for the long haul. You might still be helping in high school and college. Your kid may even call you when they are 28 and have a presentation to do for work.

I'm thinking it might make your child a little anxious and depressed if he can't keep a job because he doesn't know the value of handling responsibility, managing time and having good work habits.

It's a given that parents should support  and encourage their kids in academics but do you think it's OK for a parent to do a child's homework for them?

Ready more by Alicia at www.americasnexttopmommy.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Corey Fyke May 25, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I agree, Alicia. Imbuing our children with a sense of personal responsibility is the greatest lesson we can teach them.
Alicia Yost May 25, 2012 at 05:05 PM
A friend of mine sent me this link today: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uem73imvn9Y&feature=youtu.be It's the trailer for the movie "Race To Nowhere" and talks about the over emphasis of homework and stressed lumped upon the shoulders of our children. While it doesn't change my opinion about still requiring our children to do their own homework, it frightens me how big the expectations are these days!
Sarah Atwell May 25, 2012 at 05:32 PM
Amen Alicia! I worked in college admissions for many years and the helicopter parents are a real issue. I would be embarrassed if my mother called the schools I was applying to to check in on my application. There is such a lack of personal responsibility in our country today. However, there is such a thing as too much homework. Students are more likely to get depressed and anxious when they can't seem to find the time to complete everything that is piled on them. It's one thing in high school and college because that's just part of the game, but it's not fair for children in grade school.
Dr. Rosanne Demanski May 28, 2012 at 05:36 PM
The photo you have presented in your piece is indicative of how we are training our children to become mini-executives. The child has his nose down, face into paper and hunched over his work. There appears to be nothing around him to remind him of the joys of being a child- no plants, no flowers, no water, not even a healthy snack! There is plenty of time for a child to learn responsibility- teach them to make their beds or write thank-you notes or mow the lawn. But why make children (yes, even through high school) put in a full day work, 5 days a week, and then have them bring their job home with them and take away from family time or dinner time? An excellent teacher, the likes of which we have in West Hartford, has the skills to evaluate a student's knowledge and progress by the work they do in the classroom during the school day.
M Miller June 02, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Having worked in a public school system for several years, I can attest to the fact that homework is often collected the next day in class, is corrected by the teacher in haste and returned to the student the next day or at the end of the week. The homework is rarely, if ever gone over in class. The students are given more credit for having completed and returned the homework rather than how it was completed. This makes no sense at all. When it comes to helping your child do homework, I am of the opinion that you can help your child understand the directions or the concept but should never provide the answers or complete it for them. What does this teach them but learned helplessness? Teachers can spot the homework or projects done by the parents and it makes life more difficult for your child in the classroom. Parents are terrified of allowing their children to fail at anything, even a first grade spelling test. However you also have the child whose parents totally ignore their academic progress. It is so sad to find papers that a child completed the week before still stuffed in the backpack the next Monday morning. The two extremes, the helicopter parent and the disinterested parent are so damaging to the futures of our children. There has to be a stable medium of love and involvement while encouraging the child to seek and perform independently. Get rid of homework, get involved in your schools but trust your children enough to learn themselves. They are amazing!

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