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I'm concerned because my son didn't do the work he's given from school. The work is tough but I think the problem might only be in one of his classes.

I pushed him today to do the homework he's supposed to do, and I also got very upset because I did the assignment completely and he took too much time to copy it down and he also complained that I wrote too much. It's not because I wanted to write too much, but because if I had left out some information it wouldn't have been a correct answer.

Today, I was very serious with him and I told him "You're older and I cannot carry you anymore".

How can I help him to be more independent with his homework?

  • 5
    How old is your son? What sort of assignment is it (math, language arts, etc)? Did he want you to do some of the homework for him or was that your idea (to ensure it just got done somehow)? – Acire Mar 26 '15 at 10:40
  • I think this would be very difficult to answer without an idea of the age of the child. – Joe Mar 26 '15 at 14:57
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    I'm not upvoting the answers because I haven't read them yet, but please don't do your kid's homework - that just makes it more difficult for him to solve his own problems. – mgarciaisaia Mar 26 '15 at 16:15
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    he took too much time to copy it down: is that from his viewpoint? – DoubleDouble Mar 26 '15 at 20:34
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There is a very simple reason why you should not do your son's homework:

The results of homework assignments show the teachers whether what he taught was understood.

Think of the following scenario:

  • Teacher teaches subject A.
  • Homework covers subject A.
  • Most homework is returned mainly correct.
  • ->Teacher assumes it to be understood and moves on to subject B.

Now imagine the main part of the homework was done by parents...

Especially for younger children, failure is an important feedback, both for the teacher and the child. This was a major request from the teachers in our last primary school PTA meeting a few days ago, so I'm actually voicing their concerns, too.

If you have the (too much?) time and energy you can "carry" a child through school, but when and where are you going to stop? In highschool? College? When you are old and frail? Taking responsibility for one's actions - or non-actions - is a part of growing up, but it's a two-sided process. Think of it as learning to walk: Your son must learn to walk alone, but you as parent must let go his hand. Watch him stumble, fall, and get up again.

For school, that means yes, sometimes an answer will be incomplete, flawed or plain wrong. But sometimes it will be surprisingly brilliant.

  • No, the results of tests show the teachers whether the student understood what was taught. As there is no way to verify who actually did the work, since it was done at home, homework is useless for this purpose--and for any other purpose, really. It's a ridiculous anachronism, a relic of Cold War-era "we must do something!" knee-jerking about worries over American schoolchildren falling behind Soviet children in academic achievement, and today it does more harm than good, both by alienating students from learning in general and by stealing away time they could better spend in other ways. – Mason Wheeler Mar 26 '15 at 21:11
  • My wife is a teacher and I grade homework with her. It is very obvious when it is not the child doing the homework. You're not fooling anyone, even if you are just writing what they convey. Just do not do it unless you also feel like tagging along their night shifts at burger king. – Kai Qing Mar 26 '15 at 23:39
  • @KaiQing: For essays and such, obviously, but my answer hopefully also covers the simple "what is 3x4" math assignments and the "I'm sitting with you and make sure you actually do the homework" cases where I recommend a "controlled fail" at a rather early stage, because it can be fixed easily. Agree with the burger remark ;-) – Stephie Mar 26 '15 at 23:48
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I agree with the points in Stephie's answer. The first step is to stop doing his assignment for him: not only is it cheating, he simply isn't learning. The entire purpose of schoolwork, whether at school or at home, is to educate him through practice.

However, that does not mean completely disconnect from his homework. Especially if you have always been highly involved (either helping, or actually doing it), transition into a more independent approach slowly and watch that he's not struggling.

  • Make homework (or makeup work) a priority. He should have a designated time to complete it (e.g. finish up before dinner or play time).
  • Keep calm about it. Simply state that it is time to do an assignment, no arguing or negotiating.
  • Location is important. Ideally, find a place to work that is quiet, but also where you can watch to ensure he stays on task. By emphasizing an environment that will help with focus, he not only will focus better but will learn what helps him focus.
  • Stay nearby as he works. It can be tricky to find the right "distance" for this, and it varies by age and by child (my son wants somebody sitting right there [not interacting, just sitting], my daughter prefers isolation). I would start by being nearby, and watch how he works: is he struggling? Easily distracted? Frustrated by the content? Target those specific problems.
  • Praise good effort (not "you are so smart", but rather "you have worked hard on this").
  • Works well for smaller children, older might need a more distant approach. And perhaps a harder "fall" after a longer time of assistance. But be there if the child wants to discuss something or actively asks for help. – Stephie Mar 26 '15 at 15:48
  • I agree. A preteen or teenager deserves more space (both to work, and to fail) but having them work in a common area of the home with a parent nearby is sometimes useful, especially if OP is only beginning to establish homework as a solo activity. – Acire Mar 26 '15 at 15:52

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