Are parents cheating with homework helpers?

The New York Times had a fascinating story about a new trend in parents hiring homework helpers/monitors to help their kids get through their homework. They’re not necessarily subject tutors. They are more there to help with organizational and motivational issues and to make sure the homework is done by the time the parents get home.

The indication from the story is that parents are often at work and can’t be there to make sure the homework gets done. Having the homework helper gets the homework done in the afternoons and allows the family to enjoy dinner and a happy evening without fighting over what is left to accomplish.

From The New York Times:

“As schools have piled on expectations and career paths have sucked in both mothers and fathers, this niche industry is catering to “students who are capable of doing the work,” but “need someone there who can just be there with them to consistently do the work in a regular manner,” said Mike Wallach, who along with Ms. Kraglievich runs Central Park Tutors.”

“But it has also led some educators to question whether this trend might simply be a subcontracted form of “helicopter parenting,” depriving children of the self-reliance they will need later in life.”

“ ‘I think it really came about as a result of very, very busy parents who needed some additional care given for their children after school and saw the opportunity to meld that with some academic support,’ said Robert Lauder, the principal of Friends Seminary, a Manhattan private school. But, he said, ‘with any kind of support, there is the possibility of it becoming a crutch.’ ”

Besides being concerned about the help becoming a crutch another worry is the homework helper doing the work for the kids.

Some helpers in the story were earning $100 an hour. Other parents were advertising to pay between $15 to $30 an hour for this help.

I’ve recently met a nanny who is basically doing this for her family. She gets the kids from school and deals with all the same homework issues I am dealing with. She has to cajole them to get started, make sure they are doing it and that it is actually right. She even gets calls from the teacher.  When the parents get home the fighting over the homework is usually done and they get to enjoy happy time with their kids.

I told her we are re-writing her resume to include all this. She’s not just taking “care” of the kids. She’s doing one of the hardest parenting tasks there is!

So what do you think of homework helpers? Are these normally parents or day care workers in regular families?  Would these services be worth the money for working parents whose kids are too old for day care and would just be home not doing their homework? Would it avoid potential fights?

Is the homework helper like a teacher where they will work harder for them than for you? Does it keep your relationship with the child clean and fight free so you can enjoy your dinner and evenings together? Are parents shirking their own involvement in their child’s academic development?

At what point should kids have these organizational and self-motivational skills down for themselves?

42 comments Add your comment

shaggy

November 8th, 2010
6:20 am

Right, “happy time with the kids”. That says it all. Rather than use disclipline, rules, and guidance, so-called parents want to cheat and be their kid’s “friends”. Real parents are an endangered species.

Isn’t the point of homework, so the kid can get a better understanding of the subject…you know, actually learn something?
No wonder most kids today are vacant, entitled, and weak individuals. However, mommy and daddy are their “friends”, who pay the nanny to do the kid’s homework, so the whole dysfunctional family can watch American Idol “together”.
Disgusting.

shaggy

November 8th, 2010
6:25 am

Yes, I know Theresa was refering to a “helper”. I just know that “helper” is another way of saying “doer”. Nannys don’t want to be fired either, and a moron so-called parent that pays, will expect little Jimmy to make good grades. Except, little Jimmy is an airhead that has never had to do anything for himself. The nanny will cheat to survive.

DB

November 8th, 2010
6:40 am

Oooh, I always admire someone who has been clever with their marketing! Someone has found a way to up the ante on after-school care and now call it “homework helper” instead of “babysitter” and charge more! ‘

Frankly, I don’t see a problem with expecting a babysitter to supervise homework. I DO have a problem with the babysitter actually sitting down and tutoring the child, unless this was a clearly delineated aspect of her job going into it. If you have a child who needs to be in bed by 8 in order to get a good night’s sleep, and you don’t get home until 6, there’s not a whole lot of time there for dinner, baths and other family things.

I used to go to a babysitter every day after school until 5th grade. When we got to the babysitter, we got a snack, and then we were expected to sit down and do our homework at the kitchen table. There was three or four of us, and we helped each other. After our homework was finished, THEN we could go out and play until our parents picked us up. So I never grew up with the idea that homework was strictly the parent’s responsibility.

Gee, I thought homework was the KID’S responsibility. Does it matter who is acting as the enforcer? As far as actually doing the homework for them — if I were the parent, I would not be happy to discover that my babysitter was doing my child’s homework for them.

As far as kids who are too old to need babysitters — if they are too old for babysitters, they are too old to have someone “supervising” their homework. At that point, it becomes a question of consequences — if they don’t do their homework, they lose privileges — i.e., the computer password is changed to lock them out, or their cell phone is confiscated, etc. Homework is a small, but important, part of their responsibilities as a student — they need to take ownership of it. Parents who spend hours overseeing homework are doing it wrong, in my opinion — there’s a power struggle going on, and it’s not a pretty one. Parents should NOT be that involved in homework, except for an occasional suggestion or calling out spelling words!

motherjanegoose

November 8th, 2010
6:58 am

@ shaggy…I completely agree with this today:

Real parents are an endangered species.

Many parents are DOING their kid’s homework.

I once met a Kinder teacher whose homework was turned in IN CURSIVE. The teacher told the mother…” wow, your child is really bright…she did not even know how to write in cursive on Friday and she has incredible penmanship and knew all the answers too.” HINT…I AM ON TO YOU!

I am with DB on this…no surprise there. Homework is the kid’s job….for now and if they are not able to complete their job at 8, things will only get more difficult as they get older. I have not met DB’s children but from what she has told me, they are bright, delightful and independent young adults. This did not start the moment they walked out the door for college. It perhaps started when they were required to get their own homework done….at DB’s house.

My children are also on a self sufficient path and we rarely had homework issues. It was not even something we struggled with. They had homework…they did it. I never hovered over them and once they hit 2nd or 3rd grade…. I did not even look at it. Their assignment not mine.

TWG…if you are smart enough to oversee all school subjects once they get to middle school…you are brilliant, IMHO. I am NOT. Hence, mine need to listen to their teachers and figure it out themselves.

NOW, there are exceptions to those kids who need a tutor to understand things or perhaps their teacher is not explaining it well to them. We never had to do that but some parents do.

BRAGGING ALERT….some of you may remember that I taught my 18 y/o daughter to knit ( at 15) and she is a ferocious knitter who is very quick at it….we have scarves everywhere. A student at UGA has taught her to crochet…right handed and she is left handed. I came home, from Florida, to find that she is home and brought her project home..she is making an afghan! We may need one with these chilly mornings. My point is that she is able to perservere ( sp?) and try new things!
Yes, I am proud of her diligence.

mom2alex&max

November 8th, 2010
7:03 am

Whatever.

I am just happy that I can work part time and actually be the one raising my kids.

madmommy

November 8th, 2010
7:27 am

When I was growing up we went to the after school program and had to do whatever homework we had then. The best part is that the “teachers” were there to hep answer what questions we had and even taught me a few math tricks in the process. Of course, I think when we were kids we didn’t have near the homework kids today have and we played outside to burn off some energy so when it was time to sit down, we were more able to focus.

Now that my little one is getting closer to starting school I am starting to wonder how I will handle the homework issue and if it takes a “helper” then so be it. It’s not hurting anyone and as long as the kids are doing the work themselves, I see no problem with it. It goes along the line where kids always listen to others better than there parents.

Betty

November 8th, 2010
8:43 am

Unless you’ve had kids who struggle in school to keep up, you may not actually be aware of how much time/effort it takes to keep your kids focussed on homework after a full day of school. I agree that it’s the kid’s responsibililty, but I’ve dealt with a kid who has no problem keeping up in school and homework is a non-issue at home. It gets done-end of story. I’ve also dealt with one child who struggles and takes 3 times as long as her peers to get it done and keep up. Having someone help with the encouragement and help keep her focused helps us have quality time at dinner and all of us to bed on time. For those of us who work, it can be a blessing as our time is limited once we get home and yes, I like to have time with my family during the week that doesn’t revolve just around getting daughter #2’s homework finished. It doesn’t make me a bad mother. And my daughter actually responds better when it’s an older sibling or teenager that is helping her by reviewing the ones she missed and explaining her assignments to her.

@MJG re: ” I never hovered over them and once they hit 2nd or 3rd grade…. I did not even look at it. Their assignment not mine.” My kid’s teacher actually requires parents to review their homework each night and sign off on it. Sometimes I feel as if I’m the one being graded!

JJ

November 8th, 2010
9:06 am

Homework is an absolute waste of time. These kids should NOT have 2 -3 hours of homework every night. Homework is classwork that couldn’t be finished in class. At least that’s how it was YEARS ago when I was in school. If you couldn’t finish the assignment in class, you took it home and finished it and turned it in the next day. Homework DID NOT count as part of a grade. It was work that had to be finished.

DB

November 8th, 2010
9:15 am

@Betty: The teacher requires YOU to sign off on it?! Hoo boy, I’d be talking to the teacher about that one!

My son had a 5th grade teacher who wanted EVERYTHING signed, and took off points when they didn’t come back the next day signed! This, for a kid who seldom made less than a 95% on anything. After a month, I finally told her that her expectations were excessive, and that I would be happy to sign any paper she had concerns about — i.e., anything less than an 80 — but otherwise, I would no longer be signing papers every single night and did not expect my son to be punished for my lack of willingness to jump through artificial hoops.

Dumb. She said it was to teach them “responsibility”, but I pointed out that she was holding the children responsible for their parent’s actions — how did that teach “responsibility”? If she was concerned about a child’s work, then CALL the parent. If not — well, isn’t that why report cards were invented? To keep a parent advised of a child’s progress?

Who knew I was such a rebel. . . ? :-)

JATL

November 8th, 2010
9:23 am

I think that if both parents are working full-time, this is a really good idea and one that’s not new. I’ve always known families who pay someone like the nanny referred to here to pick up the kids, get them home or take them to practices, give them a snack and make sure the homework is being worked on/done. They aren’t supposed to DO the homework! DB is correct that this is a smart marketing concept for part time nannies and sitters to charge more! Of course this completely interferes with my ideal of one parent being around to either pick up the kids from school (or aftercare) in the afternoons. I know it’s not possible for a lot of families. I’m working full time now too, but I also know a LOT of families who could make this a possibility if they were willing to drive an older car or ditch spring break skiing. I’m not saying one parent has to quit working, but hours could be trimmed or less-demanding jobs could be found.

As far as kids learning to be responsible enough to do their homework on their own. Again -I agree! And I think the kids should ALWAYS be the ones actually doing the work. Far too many parents are actually doing the homework -and the projects -GEEZ -do they really think people believe their 5th or 7th grader did some of these things on their own? However, age is a huge factor here. Yes, I am already instilling the importance of my 4 year old actually DOING the work on his projects for PreK (and I am also amazed that they have homework projects in freaking PreK), but of course I help him with things like coming up with ideas, thinking of where we could get certain materials, overseeing hot glue gun usage -that sort of thing. As my kids grow I will demand that they become more and more self-sufficient and that they always have to do the actual work, but you do have to “ride herd” on elementary and middle school kids much of the time -and many high schoolers as well. I’m not saying do the work for them or stand over them or call their teachers every day, but I do think, as a parent, you need to query them every evening regarding what homework they have and then check it when they say they’re done – in elementary and middle school. If you want to let that last part go -do so -and if they don’t screw up, fantastic, but if they do -it needs to be checked. Once a kid is in high school, I expect to ask about homework, projects, papers and be told what is due. By the first round of progress reports it will be clear if those things are being done in a timely manner. If not -there will be consequences and they’ll be checked like a “baby” until the behavior improves. I DO think the amount of homework given these days and the fact that it starts in kindergarten is pathetic. It’s all about the stupid test scores and the fact that a) we have so many discipline problems in classes, the kids aren’t doing what they should be during class time and b) amazingly enough, many parents WANT their kids to have a ton of homework -really busy work -so the kids stay out of their hair and have something to do -because the parent doesn’t want to be a parent. Sad.

JOD

November 8th, 2010
9:24 am

Thanks to DB and Betty for their perspective – it would be great if all kids could complete their homework easily, although it sounds like it’s so time consuming now because of the volume. I hope my daughter never has issues with schoolwork – I never did and totally took it for granted (at least until college when I had to work my buns off to do as well!).

I do agree with Shaggy that ensuring homework gets done is the parents’ (sometimes unpleasant) responsibility, just like bathing, brushing teeth, wearing clean clothes, etc. If monitoring needs to be done by someone else, then whatever works, but it is still the responsibility of the kid to do it and the parent to make sure it’s done.

Here’s a valuable lesson I learned when I was still on the corporate fast track: a Senior Director told me that her kids had a nanny who helped them with homework, made them dinner, and put them to bed while she worked incredibly long hours, ultimately becoming a senior officer at the Company. She learned that her business success came at the cost of spending that time with her children, and she could never get it back. Wow! I realized that I might not achieve all the corporate success I originally wanted, but I want to be there as much as I can for the ‘menial’ every day things – I don’t want to miss out on anything I don’t have to (even homework)! (sorry – ending my sending with a preposition!).

JOD

November 8th, 2010
9:25 am

Correct myself with an error – ‘ending my SENTENCE with a preposition’ More caffeine, please :o)

pws

November 8th, 2010
9:45 am

My girls are both grown now, but when they were of the homework age, Saved by the Bell came on tv at 5:30 every afternoon. My oldest had a crush on Zac on that show, and she knew that there was no tv in our house until homework was finished, so in order to see “Zac”, she had to come in, sit down and finish the homework! Oh, I forgot to add, this was when she was in second grade. She learned that if you come home, get the homework finished, then you have the rest of the evening for other things. Our youngest, learned from her example, so I never had a real problem with getting homework done, they did it themselves. Where we had problems was when they were assigned a “project”, and we didn’t do the projects for them. I would get them any materials they needed to complete said project, but it was their project, not mine, thus they did the work. When it came time to review these projects at school, they would be very disappointed because their porjects looked like their work, when other projects were done by their peer’s parents, and the projects that were done by parents received higher grades than the projects that were done by the kids.

I taught both of my kids to be proud of their own work, that eventually the kids whose parents were doing the projects for them would need to have the skills that they didn’t learn by having someone else do the work for them. i.e., that eventually it would catch up with them. Today, both girls are sucessful on their own, and can do their survive on their own, isn’t that the goal of being a parent? I have a cross stitched sampler on my wall, with their baby pictures, and their adult pictures, and it says:”A Child is someone who passes through your life and then disappears into and adult”. I would love to hear MJG comments on teachers that can’t recognize whose work is really presented in the assigned project areas and how different parents have tried to handle that.

FCM

November 8th, 2010
9:51 am

CHEATING? Who exactly is being cheated? The child gets the homework done, and apparently with the kind of assistance a tutor or parent could get. The parent(s) come home to review the work and not try to cram a $hit load of work from school into the few hours between when they get home and kids’ bedtime.

Perhaps it is the SAHM who spends the afternoon helping HER child(ren) that feel cheated? Of what exactly? I mean it is not as if the parent getting the homework helper is off sipping cocktails at the country club. The parent (according to the article) is out earning the money to support the family.

Perhaps you feel it is parent of the child that is cheated? Well that parent does not need more BS guilt laid on their door. Yeah, I know that is me projecting…but then again trying to live up to SuperMOM gets old too.

Is it the child? The child’s work is done and they have the joy of sharing what they learned. They can do it in a relaxed way. After all 7PM or so after everyone has had work/school/etc is not really a time anyone is doing more than battling it out.

Maybe it is because I am a single Mom who enlisted the After Care Professionals on the quest to get written homework done BEFORE I pick them up as often as possible–leaving certain things for me at night to work on them with….but I see this as a win win for those who need it.

FCM

November 8th, 2010
9:59 am

A shaggy–I am not my kids’ friend. I have pleanty of battles at home (including when they choose not to do the work at After Care)…There are pleanty of parent moments even if the homework is done….I don’t know about all the parents doing this, but I am the one talking to the teachers, I am the on checking over the homework, etc.

What After Care does is tell the child to do the work….Prior to my talking to my ACP, my child would sit at the care center playing video games and karoke…then stay up until 10 doing the homework. Now they do their work, then play the games, or do arts and crafts etc….and when they get home there is still more learning to be done….

Michael

November 8th, 2010
10:00 am

No one helped me with my homework. Then again, my sisters had taught me to read before I started school so school was more of a contest with other students then some kind of scary grind. Gotta get that ‘A’!

I went on to pay my way through college and law school. What’s with all the whining?

Daily Grind...

November 8th, 2010
10:02 am

My wife and I both work (she has one day a week off), and we begin each week knowing that from Sunday evening until Friday afternoon that the week will pretty much be a blur. Between homework, dinner, extracurriculars, committee meetings at school, additional reading and/or work we have the kids complete, laundry, and cleaning, there is very little time left for us to do a whole lot. Typically our “free time” away from the kids doesn’t begin until about 9pm, or later when the youngest decides that she isn’t sleepy and would rather call out to us numerous times to say she is hot, cold, need to get tissue, etc… So is it a grind… absolutely! Is it easy… no. … And when we feel that we simply can not take it anymore, what do we do? We keep on doing it anyway. And no we do not do any homework for the kids. If they are dragging their feet or fussy about doing homework, or in the case of our 5th grader who has procrastinated or forgot about an assignment until the day before it was due, they will either have to stay up later or wake up earlier to finish it. That can be a bit torturous to us as parents, but the benefit of teaching our kids to be responsible and accountable for their actions, and to realize that there are consequences for not doing what you should be doing far outweigh the parental frustration that occurs at times. As a person who many years ago tutored children from families with parents who outsourced pretty much everything except family vacations to someone else, I can say without hesitation, that some (not all) of these parents are doing their children a huge disservice by not going through the day-to-day grind with their children. They may find that their kids suffer the same shortcomings that they suffer from as adults. I know that I do. That said, these moments are the ones that can help to solidify the relationship and bond that the parents can and need to have with their children, especially as they get older.

Michelle

November 8th, 2010
10:11 am

Well, my little guy has the opportunity to do homework at daycare, HOWEVER, I prefer he do it at home. He can go to daycare and get rid of all that extra after school energy!

When he gets home, I work on supper, he starts homework. I always look it over for correctness and completion. I want to make sure he is understanding what he is doing. I also want to be involved in what he is learning so that if he has questions, I know exactly what he’s talking about!

Now that we are moving to VA, I don’t know what our routine will be like. I do know that we will make it work!

RJ

November 8th, 2010
10:45 am

This sounds more like a tutor than homework helper. Either way, some kids need tutoring. Homework is an extension of a child’s school day. It should be quick in elementary and simply reinforce what was learned in class. Students MUST learn how to study and work on their own. My kids have a private tutor that works with them once or twice a week as needed. The goal is to make sure they’re understanding all of their work, particularly math (although my son is an A student in math). She doesn’t do it for them. She’s pretty old school so they don’t enjoy going to her house, but it has helped them tremendously. I couldn’t help them with advanced math if I wanted to. It’s wonderful being able to have someone that is skilled in all subjects, including Spanish.

TechMom

November 8th, 2010
10:58 am

I’m with @Betty. The homework helper, tutor, etc. is not necessary for most children however anyone who has a child who is not a whiz or who has any type of learning issue probably sees the value in this service. My son has ADD and for years homework was the bane of my existence. It made our lives miserable to come home every day and then spend 2 hours trying to accomplish 20 minutes worth of homework.Even when he went to afters-chool care, and they tell the kids to sit down and do their homework, my son wouldn’t do it. So then I’d pick him up and go home only to have go through the ordeal every night after a day of working and commuting. I was fried and had no patience and he didn’t want to do it because he couldn’t stay focused and so quite frankly, many nights in our house were anything but enjoyable.

He’s now in 10th grade and still has issues completing assignments in a decent time after school without any supervision. During school he’s fine assuming he has taken his medication for the day but by 5pm, most medications wear off. Most of his teachers offer tutoring before or after school so usually 3 days a week he’s there early or goes to tutoring before going to practice to ensure he has his homework done. Usually it’s not because he needs a lot of help, it’s that he knows if he goes and sits in a teacher’s classroom, he’s going to work on his homework and he has someone readily available if he does have a question.

Our biggest struggle in high school though is not the “daily” homework anymore but the amount of projects that must be done. Just this past week my son had a test on MacBeth on Tuesday (so he spent time last weekend studying as well as a couple of hours on Monday night), then Friday they had a posterboard/collage due on one of the characters so he spent Tues, Wed & Thurs night working on that and then he had a ‘journal’ written from the perspective of an assigned character due today so he work on that Sat & Sun. All for 1 class. Likely he was assigned the projects before the test but he prioritized and put off the project stuff until after the test and then spent most of the past 5 days working on them. That was his choice but it still made it feel like all he was doing was school work this weekend. It’s hard to see how he got recharged for school this week after spending all weekend working. I certainly know that if I don’t get a weekend off of work, I’m not going to be recharged for work come Monday morning.

Kate

November 8th, 2010
11:11 am

When my son was in kindergarten he had a good bit of homework every night, which I thought was absolutely ridiculous. How was he supposed to do his homework independently? He could barely read! It wasn’t homework for him, it was homework for me. I had a new baby plus a toddler to take care of as well, and I REALLY didn’t appreciate the extra work. His teacher sent home a note every week reminding parents not to do the homework for the kids. Although I never actually did my kid’s homework for him, all I could think when I read this note every week was if you don’t want the parents doing the work for them, then don’t give them homework they couldn’t possibly complete themselves!

Like Betty, I have to sign off on my son’s homework every night, and turn in another form every week confirming that I reviewed all of his homework and had him read to me every night. I don’t think that’s his teacher’s policy, it’s something that all the teachers in his grade require. One night I accidentally left one of his assignments out his bag after I took it out to sign it. The next day I sent his teacher an email apologizing after I realized what happened. His teacher emailed me back telling me that there was no need to apologize since it was my son’s responsibility to make sure he finished all of his homework and put it in his bag. I thought, well, that’s nice, but if that’s the case, then why do have me signing every little thing EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!

IMO, this is part of a bigger problem. This is just one more example of how schools, pediatricians and society in general fosters helicopter parenting. When I was in school, we didn’t even have homework until we were in 3rd grade, since that was when we were at an age where we could generally be expected to complete work at home, independently. I went to daycare after school and no worker there was ever expected to keep us “motivated” to do our homework. Same with my parents. My homework was my job, and it was up to me whether I got it done or not. Believe me, there were plenty of times when I didn’t get it done, but no teacher ever suggested that it was my parent’s fault. Honestly, it really wasn’t that long ago, but, wow, how things have changed!

a mom

November 8th, 2010
11:14 am

I agree with @Betty; until you have a child who struggles in school, you cannot really understand the homework issue. Our first never had any problems, is responsible and I rarely saw any homework unless I was asked to help study for a test by going through vocabulary, etc. Our second is the complete opposite. We can spend hours on homework, something that probably takes others 30 minutes can take 60 minutes for him. Now that he is a sophomore in high school, that means homework can take him well into the night.

We have been fortunate to send him to a school that understands different learning styles. There is a mandatory study hall every day which is almost an hour. It is in a teacher’s classroom and is considered another class period with all of the rules, etc of the school. It is amazing what gets finished during that time.

He still struggles to get the rest of the homework finished but usually it is studying for a test or writing a paper that ends up at home. With five core subjects, and homework every night in each one, it is a good night when there is only one or two subjects left when he gets home.

So I guess I do have a homework helper, but it is part of his school day. I still help at home (I know a sophomore?!?! but it is necessary)when there is a test the next day. Verbal learning is much more effective so it is the only option available. I agree with a homework helper, just to have some oversight of the whole situation, especially in middle school. Probably by high school the need is pretty much gone, unless you have a child like mine.

Kate

November 8th, 2010
11:22 am

Like Betty, I have to sign my son’s homework every night, plus sign a form every week confirming that I went over his homework with him and had him read to me for at least 20 minutes every day. I don’t think that’s his teacher’s policy, it’s something every teacher in his grade level requires. One day I acidently left out one of his assignments when I took it out of his bag to sign it. I sent his teacher an email apologizing the next day when I realized what happened and she emailed me back saying there was no need to apologize since it was my son’s responsibility to make sure he finished his work and put it in his school bag. I thought, well that’s nice, but if that’s the case then why do you have me signing every little thing, EVERY SINGLE NIGHT!

Kate

November 8th, 2010
11:49 am

IMO, this is part of a bigger problem. This is just one more example of how schools, pediatricians and society in general are fostering helicopter parenting. My son actually had a good bit of homework when he was in kindergarten, which I thought was absolutely absurd. How was he supposed to do this work independently? He could barely read! It wasn’t homework for him, it was homework for me. His teacher sent home a note every week reminding parents not to do the work for the kids. Although I never actually did my kid’s homework for him, all I could think when I read that note every week was if you don’t want parents doing the work for them, then don’t give the kids work they couldn’t possibly complete by themselves! Even in first grade he was given a lot assignments that required parental involvement. Consequently, he’s become very accustomed to me standing right by him, supervising everything he does on his homework. I’ve been working really hard this year at training him to get his homework done without me looking over his shoulder the whole time, and I’ve had some success despite the mixed signals he gets at school where his teachers seem to assign homework as much to the parents as they do the kids.

catlady

November 8th, 2010
12:12 pm

I wonder if many of these kids who have trouble getting their homework done are overscheduled, or immature for their grade? I have noticed the kids who struggle around here (and we assign almost NO homework anymore) either have some activity every day, or they really should have been held back a year to grow up some, as their skills, including organization, are weak. (How many of these struggling kids are summer birthdays?)

In our house, the child was responsible for homework, giving me any teacher notes, preparing for tests, etc. If they were having trouble and needed explanation, or if they wanted to see if they were ready for the test and wanted me to question them, I would, gladly. Or, if they had a project upcoming and needed supplies, they had to tell me WELL IN ADVANCE of the date (generally because I had to find the money for it, and was unwilling to run to Walmart at the last minute).

My approach did have consequences. My son (IQ 160) blew off his summer reading list twice in high school, so he ended up having to take the classes in evening school, on his dime. Crimped his style (but, since he had in the seat hours all he had to do was pass the tests. Took him 3 days to finish each one, because there was a limit to how many tests you could take per day.)

In addition to homework, my kids had responsibilities to the home, to the church, and to volunteer work. And they each ot to participate in one special activity each semester (such as band, or rec league ball, or ballet class), assuming grades were okay.

I find it astonishing that parents want to hire out someone to fight their battles for them (if homework has become a battle)! Of course, I never had a job that required me to be working at 5 pm either–I was available after 4 virtually all the time. That, too, was planned long before I had children.

So, is "homework helper" anything like...

November 8th, 2010
12:50 pm

…”hamburger helper”?

FCM

November 8th, 2010
1:01 pm

TWG—My first comment is not here…can you check the spam filter? It was the most direct and pertinent info on the topic.

motherjanegoose

November 8th, 2010
1:13 pm

@pws…you need to join DB and myself for lunch…LOL as your kids are in a similar stage and we have all crossed that bridge into moving ours to adults. catlady too! We should celebrate the fact that we may have done one or two things right…contrary to some other opinions here….LOL.

I HATE THE PROJECTS. I cannot tell you how many times I have invested $25-$30 in something that will certainly end up in the trash! I am usually not too sympathetic about this but those families who are scraping by ( for whatever reason) do not have that kind of money to put into projects and to me it is not fair. The fact that many of the parents are competing on these projects makes me sick! Oh yes, that is alive and well in Gwinnett County GA. FYI…the teachers know who has done the work but it is sticky to figure out how to give a child a C because his parents did a Picasso and another child an A with a playground model built with pipe cleaners, toilet paper rolls and tooth picks.

I thought this when I read momtoalexandmax:

WHATEVER….I did the time with mine as far as instilling the personal responsibility for homework and it looks like they are doing fine in college, the jury is out as one is still a freshman at UGA and the other a 2nd year Pharmacy student. NO WAY I CAN DO HOMEWORK FOR EITHER ONE!

I do know that some children absolutely need tutors…we never had one but they are quite helpful for some students.

JATL

November 8th, 2010
2:10 pm

@catlady -sometimes things change rapidly and drastically in our lives, and those of us who prepared and planned to be home with our kids or at least home when they got out of school suddenly no longer have that option! I’m not a big proponent of homework and certainly not of someone doing my kids’ homework or doing my job in relation to their homework, but I think if parents decide to have someone pick their kids up, feed them a snack and then tell them it’s “homework time” -that’s no biggie. If the person is qualified to answer questions the kid has about homework or even tutor the child in a problem area -fantastic! If parents choose to do this instead of paying for an aftercare/ daycare situation after school -how is it different than choosing to hire a nanny instead of putting your kids in a daycare center? If I decided to hire someone to provide my children aftercare, I would still ask my children if they had homework, if it was finished, what it was, etc., ESPECIALLY if I had a kid who wasn’t quite up to par with his homework.

Betty

November 8th, 2010
2:15 pm

@Techmom–Mine are still in Elementary so we haven’t gotten to the massive projects yet, but I feel for you. And I agree with your comment-” It’s hard to see how he got recharged for school this week after spending all weekend working”.

I’ve learned to back off on the pressure over homework somewhat and it’s amazing how things tend to fall into place easier when we stop pushing so hard and make sure she gets enough time to play.

@catlady–My struggling student is not overscheduled or immature for her grade, but she learns at her own pace and that doesn’t always mesh with the pace of her classroom curriculum. I would love it if there was almost no homework in her class, like yours. I really believe the homework she flies through, is just busy work, and the homework that bogs her down and frustrates her should be our focus, within moderation. When she spends all her free time battling it, it becomes punishment and she loses her excitement about learning.

a mom

November 8th, 2010
2:46 pm

@catlady-homework takes longer because of learning disabilities. When it takes someone twice as long to decode a word, then a sentence, then a paragraph, homework is going to take longer. Or when the letters and numbers jump around on the page or appear backwards or upside down, it takes longer than usual.

It is not because of overscheduling, nor because I am not home at 4:00 in the afternoon.

motherjanegoose

November 8th, 2010
3:10 pm

Trust me on this one….catlady probably knows more about learning styles than all of us on this blog put together. She is one smart cookie and I cannot wait to have lunch with her again!

pws

November 8th, 2010
4:17 pm

MJG: The comment that the teachers know who does the work, but cannot grade that way is the same comment that I would get from the teachers when I would point out the fact that parents were doing the work. It still didn’t make it any better for the child, though, all they saw was that because we didn’t do the work for them, they got a B and the parent project got the A. If that is the case, then why have kids do the projects at all? But that too was a lesson that my kids learned early on, was that life is not always “fair”. As I have stated on here before, high school was a tough road for both girls for different reasons, but because they endured those times, they have become better adults. I think it’s supposed to be that way, that is part of their growing up process to become adults. The parents that are not allowing their kids to learn those lessons while they are in middle school and high school are the ones that have immature adults for kids! I think we didn’t always do the right thing, but we tried to do the right thing, and part of it is luck that they are where they are today. I have friends that I think also tried to do what’s right and even then the kids are still immature. And for what it’s worth, I also worked full time, we had a lady who kept them both at my house from the time they were about 2 months old until the oldest turned 13. She and I had the same set of values, so we raised them together, along with their dad! I was very fortunate to have that help, so many moms don’t have that available today. Each has to do the best they can, and hope that the kids turn into mature adults!

Tuckergirl

November 8th, 2010
4:37 pm

One thing to keep in mind is that these folks live in New York City. We all know how expensive it is to live there. So I am guessing that unless you’re independently wealthy, both parents HAVE to work. With the economy tanking, those parents still working are having to take up the slack for all the people laid off, etc. That means more hours at work, less with the kids. So more often, someone else is supervising them when they get home or they are in some form of aftercare/daycare. Getting someone to help them focus on homework isn’t a big jump from that.

That isn’t to justify it, but might explain why such a service is gaining acceptance. I wouldn’t use it myself.

catlady

November 8th, 2010
6:08 pm

MJG, kudos to you, too. When I had a regular classroom, I did not grade on the “beauty” of the project. Instead, I had the child tell me about the project, describe where they looked for information and what they did with the information. You can tell who did the project (with some parental assistance to purchase things, or to make suggestions) vs. whose parent did the work. I liked to have a “fair” where each child stood by their project and explained it to their peers. It was apparent which kids were “invested” in the project.

And yes, I know about learning disabilities. Have ever since I student taught in spring, 1973. I clued the teacher and principal to a child who struggled with that. They had never heard of dislexia, disgraphia, discalcula, et al. I certainly was not referring to kids with handicaps in my previous comments.

I have noticed kids who have trouble with homework frequently are the babies of the class (May-August birthdays, overscheduled (which includes time devoted to video games and TV), kids who were passed on even though they were not able to demonstrate the requisite skills, or kids who have never had any significant responsibility (except breathing for themselves) at home. As the twig is bent, the tree inclined. Responsibility in one area leads to responsibility in another. Years ago I had a mom tell me her son would have never learned to read if I had not told her he should be making his own bed. That isn’t what I told her, but you get the idea.

My comments were not intended to be Holier than Thou, but I do think I have some street cred. I single-parented 3 kids while going to grad school for 7 years with grad assistantships with no help from dad. I understand stressed and busy.

catlady

November 8th, 2010
6:34 pm

BTW, @a mom: at your IEP meeting, pursue an accommodation for your LD student on the homework issue. The teachers have to honor these.

Light

November 9th, 2010
11:29 am

Let God will be done thru this blog http://lightoftheearth.blogspot.com

Sk8ing Momma

November 9th, 2010
1:41 pm

Tsk! Tsk! Tsk! What is the world coming to? What won’t parents outsource???

I’m old school. Kids (sans those w/ special needs) need to do and manage their own homework.

I grew up in the 70s and early 80s. Both of my parents worked and I never had the luxury of going home right after school. I ALWAYS had some type of childcare arrangement and no one helped me with my homework. Regardless of my childcare arrangements, the rules and routine were always the same:

1. Arrive at destination;
2. Eat small snack;
3. Start homework @ the table ~ no TV, radio etc.;
4. Check own homework;
5. Play/free time/extracurricular activity;
6. Parent pickd me up…My mother ALWAYS checked my homework regardless of how late we got home. (For several years my mother even worked 40+ hrs./week AND attended graduate school in the evenings. She *still* managed to check my homework.)

IMO, homework helpers are a sad commentary on both parents and children today. :(

FCM

November 9th, 2010
3:15 pm

@MJG, Catlady, and PWS—I noticed at our new school there are take home projects like “put together an outfit for the Native American Day Feast” (not Thanksgiving) and those are “fun” ones that do not get a grade but add to the experience of the activity. Then there are in school projects like “draw a map of GA” that the parents are told what to send in. These do get graded (my child got a high score and she was very proud of herself) but that way the teacher knows it is the childs work.

Now older child has “book summaries” that are due every term…I do look these other so that I can see if she really read the book–unknown to her I slip the book out while she is sleeping and read it myself. I also look to make sure that it is done in a reasonable format…or I send her back to do it. Ex of unreasonable format “In chapter 10 he said “yadda”. In Chapter 15 he said “yadda” That is why I like the book.” YES she really wrote that and no I did not let her get by with it.

FCM

November 9th, 2010
3:15 pm

er look these over not other….time for a diet coke.

Lynx

November 9th, 2010
4:04 pm

If you are a parent, and don’t know what your child is doing in school (or how), then how do you address the speedbumps that come with more complicated work? Those who are “done with” their children’s homework guidance by 2nd grade – do you think your child can independently develop higher level skills like researching a term paper or taking on a multi-step math problem? You are just dumping it back on the teacher if you don’t reinforce at home what they are learning at school. Children will stay more engaged in their work if you show you think it is important by checking for emerging problems in skills (i.e., check their homework) and addressing them. If you don’t engage, you’ll just show them that getting the “right” answer or getting it done quickly is the ultimate objective, not learning how to problem solve and approach new challenges.

motherjanegoose

November 9th, 2010
5:50 pm

Lynx….I am proud to say that I did not meddle in my kid’s homework. In fact, I had NO idea what they wrote on their essays to get into UGA ( both son and daughter) and Pharmacy school ( son). I never saw what either of them wrote but it must have been adequate, as they made it in while many other students did not. I am aware that other parents have proofed their kid’s work but I can say, with confidence, that my two made it in on their own merit. I am a teacher and always appreciate students who learn to think for themselves….early on. Just my opinion.