Parents doing homework not beneficial to students

May 18, 2009 — by Robin Liu

After a confusing lecture in physics, a student returns home with a problem set. He doesn’t have any idea how to complete it, but he doesn’t panic. He pulls out paper and his textbook, and then hands it over to his dad. After 20 minutes, the dad hands back the completed problem set, and the student shoves it into his backpack, ready to turn it in tomorrow.

Because of the amount of homework that most high school students have, parents may find themselves doing their share of it. As a result, there is a gray area between mere help and the outright completion of an assignment by the parent. A parent offering clues on how to approach a math problem is acceptable. However, when a parent does homework for his or her student, the consequences extend past simply getting caught for cheating.

Students may provide the excuse that the teacher assigned an assignment beyond their capabilities or that most parents do their students’ homework anyway. However, teachers are meant to assign work within the ability of their students and intend to challenge the knowledge of their students, not the student’s parents.

Many students also take advantage of the fact that their parents have knowledge of the subject that they are studying, since they have college degrees in those subjects. This results in a disadvantage to students who do not have specialized parents that can offer help on difficult assignments. When parents are doing homework for their children, they set a bad example, showing their kids that they are allowed to cheat.

Students do not learn to take responsibility for homework because a parent has done it for them, and the students will get in the habit of turning to someone else for excessive aid on their assignment. Then, when they are required to complete an assignment on their own or tested on the material, students will probably struggle with it.

According to the Office of Education Research and Improvement in the U.S. Department of Education, students spending more time on homework, on average, do better academically than those who don’t. When a parent helps a student complete a project, this may give their child a better grade at the moment but harm the student in the long run. By doing the assignment for them, parents are taking away the learning experience that students get from doing the homework.

Instead of doing the homework, parents can monitor their child’s studying by seeing what he or she needs help in. Rather than do the assignment, parents should inform the teacher where their student is struggling. Parents should encourage their child to recognize the importance of homework, and its effect on the student’s habits, responsibilities and overall learning experience.