Dear parents, please stop doing your kids' homework

Dear parents, please stop doing your kids' homework.
Dear parents, please stop doing your kids' homework. Photo: SHUTTERSTOCK

My child came home from school recently and she was really down. 

You see, she'd submitted a homework assignment and when she looked at some of the other kid's projects she felt embarrassed by her own work.

When I saw a photo shared by the teacher of a selection of the same homework by other class members I was shocked.

While my daughter had spent hours making a poster – painting, gluing, researching and compiling her information in interesting ways – other children had made elaborate papier-mâché models. They were amazing, but it was obvious the majority of the work had been done by their parents, not the children.

We reassured our child that we were really proud of the effort she'd put into her assignment and told her that as long as she kept working hard that's all that mattered. 

I understand why parents help their children. For many kids, schoolwork is daunting. Being engaged with your kids and guiding them at home is a wonderful way to bond and help them overcome their problems, but doing their homework isn't doing them any favours in the long run. 

And you're making other kids who put the work in feel inadequate. 

Step away from the craft projects and let your children thrive or fail, depending on how much effort they put in. It's not a competition and it's definitely not your homework to do. You won't be graded as a parent.

Author of How To Raise Kids With Integrity, Trish Corbett said helping children was important, but you need to know when to step-back.

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"Parents empower their children by being supportive, encouraging and respecting where their child's level of learning is at, at that moment," Ms Corbett said.

"Parents disempower their children when they actually do their child's homework for them and the child has not learned what they are being taught by their teacher."

Children need to learn new things to build their confidence.

"Every person, at any age, feels good when they have learned something new and their confidence is raised when they acknowledge this within themselves," she said. 

"Helping a child is important as they feel supported. Explaining things until a child understands it is important as it teaches a child about self-discipline and sticking with something until it is completed (in this case understood). 

"Doing the work for them takes away these character-building opportunities and may, in fact, imply to the child that they do not have the ability to learn, or do what is asked of them and they may feel inadequate."

And for the children doing the right thing and tackling homework on their own, they can feel inadequate and a sense of injustice.

"Doing your own homework takes thoughtfulness, consideration, self-discipline and orderliness," she said.

"When another child who brings their homework to school which was completed by somebody else and the homework is accepted by the teacher or school we are then educating our children, our future citizens, that being dishonest is OK, that it is accepted. 

"There is an underlying, unspoken, sense of injustice."

When parents take over their child's homework assignments, thinking they're protecting them from failure, it impacts on them negatively in the long term.

"Remember teachers are not asking your child to do anything that they think is beyond their capacity," Ms Corbett said. 

"Your child may be 'stretched' a little and it may not be easy, however, just like you, when they learn something new and are pleased with themselves it builds their confidence and sense of self worth. 

"Every time you do something for your child, that they should be doing, you take away the gift of character-building."