Parent Doing Homework?

Updated on August 17, 2010
J.C. asks from Gilbert, AZ
26 answers

My kids aren't even in elementary school yet, so I don't have this issue yet, but will one day so I'm curious...I was talking to a girl at work today who has a son in 8th grade. He is pretty nonchalant about homework and just doesn't seem to care about it. So she checks online as to what his assignments are, nags him to do them, then (and this is the part that shocked me) proof reads them and makes corrections, sends him back to make the corrections, checks his backpack to be sure its in there, etc. Also, she has "helped" him with science projects in the past and told me she spent hours making them better (like staying up late to finish it while he slept!) and when I asked her why she doesn't just let him do it himself, she said, "well when every parent in his class is doing this, you kind of have to". So is this true? It seems to me like she is doing a lot of his work for him. We talked a little more today and I said, why don't you just let him sink or swim? And she said she tried that last year, and he sank...miserably. So they started "helping" him and riding him at the end of the year again so that he passed with C's. Just curious as to what I'm supposed to do when my kids are older. I understand helping them with homework, most parents do...I just thought it was more of answering his questions he might have if he was confused while doing it himself. Thanks in advance for any input!

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answers from Dover on

Every parent is different. I think it is perfectly acceptable to help as a child asks (answer quesitons for clarification or better understanding) and also to proofread what they have written. It is also ok to lend a helping hand when they are working on a big project (I do NOT mean do the work but maybe be an extra set of hands when needed or help to generate ideas) but the work really should be the child's. I know someone who actually did the homework for their grade schooler and had them write it over in their writing (THAT BLEW MY MIND!).

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Fresno on

I am a high school teacher so I see both extremes (parents who baby their kids too much and then the parents who don't get involved at all and have basically given up). I think if you instill the importance of school work and organization (key factor in success) when they are young then when they are in Junior High and High School they will hopefully be self motivated and responsible.

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answers from Anchorage on

My son has always done his own work, and gets higher scores because of it. He is in kindergarten, and did his own project for the science fair, and took 2nd place out of the whole school. There were some projects you could tell the parents did, and they did not place because of it.

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answers from Minneapolis on

The teachers CAN tell - I am a teacher of 7th and 8th graders - and I know which parents do what. It's sad, but it's also really hard to break them of it, because they'd rather be miserable than allow their child to feel the consequences of their actions and choices.

This will come back to haunt everyone involved for years. The message that she is sending her son by doing his work is twofold.
1) That we value people by their output
2) That he is incapable of turning out quality output

Neither of these messages are the ones that you want to send your child. Instead, tell your children that you know that they are capable of doing the work, set the expectation to do it, and allow them to feel the consequences of not doing it. Natural consequences are always best.

I know a parent whom I really admire, with two special needs sons. She would send me an email when her son turned in some work to let me know that she didn't think he had done his best work and that he hadn't put in the work that she expected. This helped me have a clue that I could go ahead and read his work critically, and that the lack of quality wasn't due to a disability but due to his lack of effort and I could call him on it.

Please don't do your children's work for them. Let them have the experience of trying and failing sometimes. Let them have the experience of doing things on their own. Let them know that you trust them to do quality work. Let them know that you have high expectations but believe they can meet them. Let them know that you support their education and their teachers. And let their teachers teach them where they are - which they can only do if the teachers see the *child's* work.

At our school, we have a saying, "Help me do it by myself." Your job as a parent is to provide a quiet, dedicated location, the materials necessary, and the time for your child to do homework. You need to tell them that they can do it and help them emotionally when it gets hard. But, their job is to do the work.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Ha! Yes, the more affluent the parents, I think the worse it is..
We saw this all the way through our daughters high school. I did not believe in this. I wanted our daughter to learn to do her own work. If she had questions, was confused or was not inspired, of course I would read it to her and we would discuss it. By the 6th grade, I never had to ask if she had homework, she knew it was up to her to do it.

I know that some kids are very disorganized or do not have a system and that can hinder them. Their parents do need to make sure their child does the homework and stays focused on the work. but the teachers really do ask parents to allow their children to do all of the work, so the teachers can tell who needs more help, or what the teacher may have missed.

The projects in elementary were hilarious.. It was so obvious when child did the project and when a parent did it. The teachers knew darn well, who was assisted..

These parents do not realized that they are not helping their children. It all comes out in the wash when the kids take the standardized or state test.. Also the SAT and ACT.. you can't have anyone else take those test for your kids..

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

I think there is a happy medium with doing homework. It is hard not to jump in and help your child succeed, but doing homework well into the night while the child has no participation is ridiculous! I also think that at 8th grade he has learned to just let his mommy do it. His far too old for that! Around 5th grade or so they should be pretty self sufficient.

I still check my son's homework folder to be sure he has done everything. If I see something is missed or if he has answered problems wrong, I make him go in and figure it out on his own. If he is having trouble with a particular project or subject, I do step in and help him understand it. I am not going to lie, sometimes, I feel like I am repeating elementary school, but I also believe in facilitating good study habits and quality work - NOT DOING IT FOR THEM.

Ultimately, fourth grade seems to be the most difficult grade as far as transitioning from homework to big time learning and real responsible homework. After pushing through the year last year, my son came to me and said that he is finally feeling confident, like he can get the grades he wants to. He even went so far as to say, he was looking forward to being able to keep up in 5th grade. In short, just facilitate, don't do it for them. They don't learn anything if you don't let them do it.

Good luck and I would let your friend worry about her own kids. We have enough with worry about with our own. = )

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answers from Pittsburgh on

Oh yeah! It's out there! Went to my son's first grade science fair last year and I'm thinking....I don't think so! Obviously so many were done by the parents. How could you even attend it with a straight face? My thoughts:
1. These kids are gonna fall flat on their faces when they ARE out on their own.
2. The parents aren't fooling anyone--especially the teachers.
1 + 2 (from above) = parents look like idiots.

It's sooooooo tempting to jump in and help a kid who is tired, struggling, etc. but it's never the right choice!

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answers from Albuquerque on

Ack! What do you think will happen to these children when their parents aren't there figuring everything out for them? Please, any parent that is doing things for your children that they should do for themselves stop and think seriously about the long term implications to our entire society. These people will run it some day and they will need to know about consequences, something they can not learn if someone is always figuring out for them what they need to learn themselves. Remember you can not go back and teach your child to think for themselves after you have usurped their ability by insisting they avoid the pain of failure as a child. Children need that pain in order to grow in to responsible and thoughtful adults who make choices that are well thought out because they have learned by making their own mistakes. Please check out L. and Logic if you need help implementing appropriate consequences and teaching responsibility. I want to live in a world full of responsible adults who know how to think things through and that will only happen if their parents have lovingly allowd them to learn how by making their own mistakes and getting the natural consequences while they are still at home where you can let them know that you L. them and encourage them to make another choice the next time they have the opportunity to get a better result. A result they want and one they have chosen for themselves because they have learned that making good choices gets them better results.

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answers from Dallas on

I've seen it out there, especially at competitons such as Science and History fairs.

Someone accused hubby and myself of helping daughter with a 5th grade Science Fair project simply because it was along the lines of our business...Thermoplastics. Yes, we had good models as examples because we had them on hand, she also toured a couple of plastics manufacturing plants but SHE did the work as far as her detail to writing, presentation, etc. WE took her to the plastic plants to get information but it was up to her to listen to the plant manager and take notes. YES, we have an inside track on plastics since it has been our business 25 yrs, however, it was up to her to take our guidance, reasearch on her own and move forward.

I will help my daughter in every way EXCEPT doing a project for her. SHE does research, planning, etc. I will make sure she has all supplies needed, I will help cut things out if needed and I will give an opinion (if asked) before she submits the project.

If I do the work then I get the grade...that is how I presented it to her years ago. I've already been through high school and college and it is her turn to learn the responsibility of projects and homework and what it takes to get it done.

She will be in 10th grade this year, it is getting harder with 4 honors classes, cheer and advanced orchestra....STILL.... it is HER responsibility to make sure she has the correct cheer clothes for the day, know what days she stays late for school for cheer, games or orchestra, have all assignments done, have violin and music at school, etc. The children have to learn in order to be responsible adults.

I have been known to take or pick up the violin at school because she was going to be at a game or practice and no where to safely leave her violin. This is ONLY because OUR $3000 paid for the violin and I am protecting her violin.

You have to have a balance of how much you assist your child.

EDIT: I saw where someone does not expect more than a C... Geesh....if my daughter gets a C on something (RARE) she feels like a failure. She is in all honor, AP courses and maintains A's. We don't expect all A's but if a C comes through we are all disappointed because she can do better. We feel that goals need to be set high to be able to achieve success in whatever you do......student, business owner, mom, etc.

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answers from Philadelphia on

My oldest is just about to start kindergarden, but I've heard other parents make remarks like that before too, and i can't believe it either! My parents didn't help me with my projects, and I never got below a B. I don't plan on doing my kids projects for them either. it's so obvious when a parents does their child's project too! who do they think they are kidding!!!!!!

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answers from Houston on

My kids are going into 3rd and 1st grade and I have seen this with other parents. I do sit with my kids while they do homework at the table and I answer their questions and proofread but I don't do projects or homework for them. My guess is that your friend has been doing this since the beginning (probably kindergarten). The poor kid never learned how to study, project plan, and keep homework organized. I look at the homework they bring home in the early years as just preparation for the homework in jr. high, high school, and college. The assignments themselves are not hard but it's the act of completing the work, keeping it organized and being responsible for getting it done and getting it turned in that is the lesson to be learned.

In the short run she may be helping him to get by, but in the long run it will backfire. He's not going to suddenly know how to do homework and study when he's in high school or college.

FYI: I was in the office one day last year coming in to have lunch with my son and noticed a parade of parents coming in to drop off projects that had been "forgotten" by the kids that morning. My first thought was that each one of those parents had spent the morning completing or improving the project and that's why it was coming in late.

Good luck,

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answers from Phoenix on

My oldest is in 6th grade. I check her math for her and I tell her how many she has wrong. I do not tell her which ones are wrong. She has to find them herself. I remind her to put the homework in her backpack. At the beginning of each month she is allowed to call me once and I will take the homework to her free of charge. After that when I have to take her homework to school she owes me (either gas money or extra jobs around the house). The gas money come from her allowance.

Hope this helps!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

That is so sad. It should not be that way. If you bail them out, they do not learn and the school does not take on the full responsibility to teach them, even if they need extra help to learn how to organize, or motivate themselves. That is one of the functions of special education, to give children the chance to be identified in terms of what kinds of strategies they need to learn for themselves to be more functional and have meaningful choices as young adults. What a terrible shame. I did my homework, and I have let a child fail. The overwhelming majority of children who fail do so for an identifiable reason, which educational testing would identify, and would succeed if they could. So few choose to fail, especially prior to high school. This Mom cheated her son out of learning for himself, and getting the help that he so obviously needed long ago.

Most of us do not do this, she is fooling herself.


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answers from Amarillo on

My take on this is that it is not fair to the child. This is showing the child that mom or dad will always be there to do things for me. I won't have to put in the effort for the grade. Life is not like that you get out of it what you put into it.

I once helped me son in 8th grade do a project because his team mate had to fly back to the states for his grandmother's furneral. My son was left holding the bag. I said to him I wiould type out the paper but he had to do the work. Any other things that might be needed he would have to tell me in art work what he wanted done (this was the part that the team mate would have done) and I would do it. He got a good grade on the project but he told his teacber the reasib why and she was fine with it. All other grades in his school career he earned the hard way.

My daughter had a teacher swear that I did her work in history class after parent teacher open house. She had to show the teacher that her handwriting was not mine in order for him to believe her. She too earned her grades without mom's help.

The ohly thing that I might have done with either child was tol suggest that they write down several ideas and then pick their topic.

So parents doing the work is setting up the child(ren) to fail for life.

The other S.

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answers from New York on

well i am not quite there yet. we just went through kindergarten, and yes i had to help out with all homework.
my 5 year olds had presentations. a few of them. they had show and tells, a few of them. how can a 5 year old decide what to talk about, how much to talk about, and do build their board?
i am assuming workload will just increase for me. my 5 year olds knew how to read so they would read homework instructions on their own, but i had to be present and direct them if they were going off instructions.

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answers from Atlanta on

I am a first grade teacher, and see it often. I think that parents are so afraid of letting their children "fail" and "damage" their self-esteem that they think they are helping but in actuality are hurting. Also, many parents feel that if their child does not do well, then it is a reflection of their parenting skills, and so they are more concerned with protecting their own image rather than requiring the child to be accountable for their own responsibilities.

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answers from Seattle on

LOL... yet another reason why we homeschool. I know exactly how much my son is doing on his own, how much I'm helping, and what he really needs help with vs. what he WANTS help with, and can balance that.

This is actually a REALLY fine line for parents to walk. So fine a whole term called "afterschooling" has been developed. I mean, say your child doesn't get the multiplication table. Do you just let them sit confused and turn in F after F, and hope they're not the only one confused so the teacher will spend extra time instead of building on a foundation the other kids already get... or do you sit with them and reteach them the multiplication table, and make games out of it, and practice with them, and correct their work? In the "real world" (hate that phrase, school is part of the real world) but in ___(hated phrase)___ professional writers have a whole TEAM that helps them through publication (nothing you ever read in print is the result of a single individual), and in academia there are whole other kinds of teams helping with research, proofing, editing before submission... ditto science, ditto music composition, ditto mathematics, physics, medicine, etc. So WHERE do parent's draw the line??? WHY is it unacceptable for a parent to proof read an essay for typos, or to say "You know, I think this phrase would have more effect at the end" or "The pacing seems a little off to me, how about tying in ______ here, or cutting this section entirely?" When it is proven time and time again that the BEST time to learn from a mistake is immediately after it's made, while the process is fresh in your mind, is it not okay for a parent to check their child's math/ spelling/ etc HW, but preferable for them to find out 1 day to a week later when they get the assignment back? Don't even get me started on research. Most kids have no clue how to go about research, and NO teacher in elementary can sit with every child for every paper and brainstorm sources (although some valiantly do this in AP courses in highschool... most kids don't get that benefit), much less are most elementary kids capable of taking notes on the discussion/brainstorm with the teacher (heck, even as a college student I can have trouble taking notes fast enough).

I mean... obviously... you don't fill out a worksheet for the child. But anything beyond that is a fierce debate between parents AND teachers who sit in different camps, and those camps can change year to year.

Yes, it is FAR more prevalent in affluent families to have parents really involved with their children's education, with fairly predictable results. Especially by highschool... because highschool determines college... and college tends to be very important to affluent families. Personally, I MUCH rather would see an overinvolved parent, than an underinvolved parent. <laughing> in large part, because the "do it myself" rebellion happens more with overly involved parents.

I teach a classroom of 1 at the moment (excluding TA'ing undergrads), but I know a LOT of teachers. While many groan about parents who are overinvolved, the general consensus is, however, that it is THEIR kids who in general go on to success in school. While kids with underinvolved parents tend not to. Of course you get brilliant self motivated kids with absentee parents, and lazy "do it for me" kids with overinvolved parents. But those are BOTH the rare cases.

Again, though, yet another benefit of homeschooling. I spend less time teaching my son in an average day than his friends in away-school parents spend helping with them with homework or afterschooling. Seriously. His best friend has an average of 3 hours of HW every day. Which is an average of what we do in a school day. 7 years old, for crying out loud. What 7yo needs 3 hours of homework??? 15, yeah... but 7???

Whoops.. slight tangent. But, yes, you will find parents (or classrooms, or whole schools) where the parents do "what the other parents are doing" whether that's being overly or under involved.

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answers from Phoenix on

I am there to support my children, showing them how to do things and answering questions, I absolutely do not do the work for them. As far as I know, most parents do not do their children's work. I have proofread papers when asked to, but that is it. All five of my children were straight A's through elementary for the most part, every now and then a B might show up, but mostly A's. I currently have twins (a boy and girl) in 8th grade, in separate classes...both getting straight A's. Maybe instead of riding her son, or doing the work for him she should see if there might be a problem where he is needing extra help or tutoring.



answers from Phoenix on

Well with my kids I refused to do their homework and will not touch projects that they have to do.

I would not give them answers. (They will not learn the work that way.)

I would have them bring their homework to me for a look over.

Again, I do not do their homework.

I will occasionally if I see errors say....

Ok, I see here a few mistakes would you like me to show you where they are so you can try again or should we leave them?

I never give them the answers. (They will not learn the work that way.)

I do get after them if they say they have homework and do not do any of it within the first 30 mins of being home...

They do not have to do it immediately but must start working on it within the first 30 mins of being home or it does not get done.

I do not expect grades higher than a C.
If they come home with higher I commend them on their hard work.



answers from San Antonio on

Sometimes it goes even into college...there was an architecture major who's father was an architect...the father, designed and drafted the project for his son...and when the son got a D, went and complained to the dean...ended up getting his son thrown out of the program for plagiarism in the process.



answers from Chicago on

I do check my kids homework. They are entering 6th grade so they really need to get on the ball themselves. For their math, if there is a problem incorrect, then I erase their answer and tell them to do it again. If it is still wrong, I go over the problem with them. They are responsible for their own projects they bring home though I will help with suggestions or tips if they ask. Homework is generally assigned to let them do work on their own, and many times it is not something they had full instruction in class so helping a bit is not horrible. I am against giving all the answers or actually doing everything for them.
For their essay projects, I will proofread and help them correct so they understand why it should be corrected. This has helped them learn for later papers and such.

By the way, even when I was in college I had someone proof my papers in case I missed something and I proofed someone else's.



answers from Santa Fe on

I think her approach isn't setting up for life when he leaves home. If his parents are always "helping" him, what's he going to do when he's on his own and truly responsible for himself. Are they going to rescue him then too?
As a teacher, I highly discourage you from "helping" your children in this manner. We want to know what your kid is capable of, not what you can do. If your child "sinks", it's the teacher's and parents' responsibility to figure out why and help them in a way that is truly helpful. Doing work for a child is hurting them much more than helping. Trust me, I've watched this happen in my own family. Talk to your child's teachers, keep an open channel of communication, if it gets to the point that your child barely survives without "help", talk to the teacher, find out what's going on, most teachers are more than willing to talk to a parent to do what is best for the child.



answers from Philadelphia on

Well my oldest is going into 5th grade and my two other children are going into first grade and second year of nursery school.
With our oldest child he completes his homework as soon as he comes home usually with out our help. Sometimes he might not understand one or two math problems so we will go over it. He had 2-3 major test a week. There were about 4 weeks all year that he had no test whatssoever. Either my husband or myself help him study. He receives high grades. His last test of the year he purposely didnt tell us he had a math test and studies by himself and received a A+.
Most days in the summer I make my oldest write in his summer journal and do some type of school summer work. Either geophahy,math, language. He also reads practically every day.
I also having been doing summer workbook pages with my son going into first grade. Every day his practices reading and writing.
Last but not least my four year old daughter I started last week to teach her to read. She is a willing student since both her older brothers read. She does simple workbook pages to get her ready for kindergarten which is still one year away.



answers from Atlanta on

If this is true, it's pretty sick. You'd think the teachers could tell but then again they probably don't care. I guess it's all about the grade instead of what's actually being learned. When I helped my kids, I helped. I didn't do it for them. I would go over their work with them and tell them where corrections should be made but not directly, I would question it to make them question it and then they'd come up with the right answer usually.

If this is going on it's not right nor fair for the kids or the parents. Parents should get together and do something good about it.



answers from Phoenix on

Wow there are a lot of good answers out there. My son is just starting 5th grade. He is a gifted child so we expect straight A's in his academic classes. However, I have always told him that if he tried his best and that resulted in a C - that would be fine, but if he slacked off then there would be a consequence. He is responsible for getting his homework done before any other activity. I used to check his math but don't anymore unless he asks. I still proof read his written assignments and offer suggestions if I think it might help. If I feel there was not enough effort, then he has to redo it. Projects are his responsibility but I will provide supplies and getting to where he needs to be for the research portion. I also provide suggestions for presentation but do not do the actual work. I still make sure everything is in the backpack but he has to pack it every night before bed. I check his progress reports weekly and make him redo any assignment that is missing. I also check all tests that come home because I have found that sometimes things are marked incorrect that are actually correct. I keep in contact with his teachers through email. Yes you have to be involved in your child's education but it does not help them learn if you do the work. I think that if my child was unmotivated, I would be riding his tail hard to make sure it got done. That is your job as a parent. Not all parents "help" their children with the projects. Most let the child do the best they can.



answers from Phoenix on

Parents who do their kids work for them are just plain stupid. If kids know their parents will always bail them out then when they grow up it will be pretty devestating when they fall on their faces. My oldest son decided to screw around his 9th and 10th grade years so he had to make up classes his senior year instead of just having fun. Let them sink!

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