Monday, November 08, 2010

Are parents cheating with homework helpers?

Are parents cheating with homework helpers? Not unless the helpers are doing it wrong. Some kids will simply get failing grades and fail to get an education if they don't get help with focusing on homework. They shouldn't be deprived of an education because they don't yet have self-discipline. In fact, they shouldn't be deprived of an education if they have ADD and won't have self-discipline until well into adulthood. Of course, the helper shouldn't do too much for the student, and any sensible person will do it right.

Are parents cheating with homework helpers?
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
November 8, 2010
by Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

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?

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