As the new school year is in full swing, I was thinking about how we, as parents, approach homework. Each night, our kids get down to business and usually need a bit of help to get started, and more to get finished. As a parent, we feel obligated to help, and we should. But what ends up happening all too often is we end up doing the work for our kids.
I know this has happened to me, especially when it comes to the worst type of homework that exists, Science Projects. A recent poll showed that 43% of parents do their homework for their kids. 43%! As far as I can gather, these are the main reasons parents helping turns into parents doing the work for their kids.
1) It saves time: I’ve fallen into this trap. Your child is taking their time figuring something out, or maybe is feeling lazy and is looking for an answer. Rather than help them come to the right conclusion and working things out, you just give them the answer to speed things up. It can’t hurt that much, right?
2) You’re worried about how it reflects on your kids: None of us want our kids to fail, even if it’s just a simple homework assignment. And some parents don’t want their children to be viewed as anything less than brilliant, so they just do the homework for their kids. Obviously this has some terrible results once it’s time for the test, but it still happens way more than it should.
3) You’re worried about how it reflects on you: If my kid is doing poorly in school, or if they are behind and need extra help, what will the teacher think about me as a parent? Will they think I’m not helping enough at home? Will they assume that my child isn’t very smart and my genes or parenting is to blame? I know it sounds silly, but this is a real reason why parents do homework for their kids.
Of course, teachers are almost always able to spot when we are doing the work, but it’s tough to prove and further complicates things for our kids. And if we think about it, we have to know that doing the work for our kids is not helping them long term anyway. Not to mention the moral implication that says it’s ok to turn in work that someone else completed and take credit for it.
It’s the reasons we have to let our kids fail sometimes. More importantly, we need to learn how to be better teachers to our children when it comes to their homework. They will need our help, sometimes to the point of tears, but the next time you want to grab the pencil and just get it over with, remember the negatives that go along with doing the work for them.