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October 02, 2008

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Sheri

That is an excellent post. Very scary, and sad. My sons are young, but we've all had the experience of my son showing up with his homemade science project and another kid showing up with the dry ice machine and huge, professional looking project. Funny, that kid can't explain how it works because his parents did it for him! That's a tough one to explain to a kid.

At this age it's so important to instill ethics and morals. As long as they working hard and trying their best, they're doing fine. But we have to let them do the work.

LarkLady

I've been thinking about your post, ZMW... and then this morning's local paper had an article on homework that made me think some more. Here's the URL for the article: http://www.venturacountystar.com/news/2008/oct/04/the-battle-continues-over-kids-homework/

You see, we've helped our kids more than a few times throughout the years with their homework and their school projects. Sometimes it's been a matter of our typing what they wrote, but I admit that often enough it's been a lot more than that. I don't think we ever got as obsessed about it as either Sheri's example of the science project or what your husband witnessed at Kinko's. But I've been thinking about the whole subject, now that our daughters are in high school and college and far beyond our helping with homework.

And I'd already started to wonder about the validity of some of the assignments I remember having to help on... was that paper back in the fifth grade really a fifth-grade-level assignment? Did the teacher really expect 10 year-olds to write a footnoted paper, of did she know that they were going to need assistance from mom and dad?

Which leads to the next question: What's the real purpose of homework, anyway? To reinforce what is being learned in class? To supplement what's presented in class because there's no way in the world the teacher can get in all of the material and still teach to the STAR test that will be given in the spring? To prove to parents and school administrators that the teacher is working hard?

Lots of questions; no easy answers.

Zen Mama Wannabe

I think it comes back to an equal playing field. Are we really going to sit by and let our kids get a C- (or worse) while other kids get A's and B's because their parents are "helping." It would be hard for this Zen Mama Wannabe to do that. But when does "help" from parents cross over the line??

And then what about the parents that have way more money than the others that can throw more of it at the assignment and PAY (in a sense) to have the project turn out so well. Is THAT fair??

Like you said, hard questions - no easy answers. But we can't pretend it is not happening and we shouldn't bury our heads in the sand and not try to address it. Maybe the answers will get clearer when we as parents focus on the VALUES we wish to instill in our children and how WE can best demonstrate those in our daily lives.

But don't you also wonder about the role of the educator in all this? It's pretty obvious when a child has "help" on a project -- why are teachers allowing this to keep happening AND reinforcing it by giving those projects the high marks??

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