Find your diamond
Find your jewelry
shape
carat
color
clarity

Children's School Projects and Parental Involvement

House Cat

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
4,007
My fifth-grade son's Living Wax Museum was last night and the entire event has been weighing heavy on my mind since I have left. This was the large project of the year where each child was to choose a historical figure. Then they were to write a six page written report and give an oral report in costume. After that, they were to paint a six-foot background and write and memorize two sets of lines (30 seconds each) for a living wax museum where they were the characters they had chosen. People come to the museum, drop coins in a container, and the kids come to life and say one set of their lines.

Ok, that was probably way too much information, but...

This was a large project, where I felt all along that it required quite a bit of parental involvement, rather than allowing the child to use his own resources. For instance, my child can't drive himself to a thrift store (or other type of store) for his costume. He can't go to hobby lobby on his own for supplies for the background. Teachers had us proofread all documents. What if my writing skills are terrible? And they are!

Don't get me wrong, I actually LOVE being there for my son. I opted to enroll him in a school that requires 36 hours per year of parent volunteer hours. I'm not a deadbeat parent. I check his homework at night, make sure he is on top of his academics, etc. I'm not trying to cop-out. I just believe that sooner or later, kids should BEGIN to learn to rely on themselves with larger projects.

My son had four weeks to complete the six food background. I helped him by keeping him on a schedule. I felt that was the way I could be most valuable as a parent. We planned his schedule on when he would settle on a design, what days he would draw each item, and when he would paint each piece of the background. When completed, it wasn't perfect, but it was good for the fact that it had been done by a 10-year-old, as all the rest would be! Or so I thought.

We get to the museum last night and MOST of the backgrounds last night had clearly been done by the parents. If not just outright done by the parents, more than 50% of the background was done by the parent and the kid might have colored it in. I was shocked. I walked through the aisles and over and over again, there were very sophisticated backgrounds, all done by parents. Just a handful looked as though they had genuinely been done by the children.

This leaves me filled with questions..

Is this what we are doing nowadays? Are we doing our children's work for them? If so, why? I have older kids and I didn't do this for them. I wonder if I missed something. I am tempted to approach his teacher and say something about the fact that my son did his background all by himself and "did I miss something where parents were to help with drawing and painting?" It's a passive-aggressive move, but I worry that my son will get a terrible grade because their perspective will be so skewed by these parent assisted backgrounds. But if I am being honest, there is no way my son's background can even compete with what I saw.

I have really felt bombarded by all of the blog posts about how the new generation of parents are ruining their children by spoiling them, but I feel as though I came face to face with a glaring example of that behavior last night. What next? Am I to write my son's next report for him to ensure that he gets a good grade? Should I take his Science test for him?

Do you think I should say something to his teacher? Should I just keep my thoughts to myself?
 

House Cat

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
4,007
Something I think I failed to articulate in my original post:

I want my son to grow up to be a hard working, self sufficient individual. I am not into raising entitle brats. But what happens when the environment is muddied by school work that has been done by parents? The bar is raised at that point and my son can't compete. I'm not asking for permission to do my son's school work. I'm asking for input on how to navigate in this new era of parenting..i guess
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
28,192
So, since other parents do, should you do your kids work for him so he can compete?

I'd love to say, "Hell No!"

Since the system is corrupt the righteous thing to do is not play.
Accept that grades issued from this corrupt system are BS since it grades the parent/child team, not just the child.
Since grades are BS, which college he gets into (via this type of cheating) is based on BS too.
Since his ivy-leage degree gets him that higher-paying job it is based on BS too.
This means the more-affluent lifestyle he'll enjoy is unfair and BS too.

Doing the right thing (having your kid do his own homework) and accepting that will result in your kid being less financially and outwardly successful is actually the the ethical and righteous thing to do.

Easy for me to say. I don't have kids.

I wouldn't blame you if you abandoned ethics, joined the corruption, and made your DNA unit as powerful as possible by doing his work for him like the DNA units your DNA unit is competing with.

It really all boils down to what's more important to you, being ethical or maximizing your DNA's 'sucess' in this increasingly corrupt world.
 

Jambalaya

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 2, 2014
Messages
3,548
Hi House Cat, I don't have kids but your post resonated with me. I read it through and I totally see your frustration. The reason I'm responding, although I don't have kids, is because I have noticed the exact same thing about parents having to help with the kids' work because the project requires assistance. I just thought I'd offer support in noting that I have realized before that it could be unfair in terms of grading, and also unfair to working parents, and wondering why elementary school is like that these days when it never used to be (as you noted).

My friend has three children, ages 11 and twins who are 8. She is always having to do school projects for them because the school sets things that are above the age range. When one of them was five, they had to make a holiday wreath, which was a little beyond them without parental help. Similarly, painting a six-foot background is beyond most children without adult help, like you said. I've never heard of a project as complex as the one you described, though! For which age group was it?

Elementary schooling across the board seems to be like this. I hear the same story from parent friends all over. I guess making all these things (one kid had to make a house out of cardboard) is supposed to be interactive, but they do require parents to oversee, and I guess some of the parents then just do the project. One house, in the scenario above, had electric lighting!!

It's so different from when my age group was at school. Back then, it was mostly studying and being taught, sitting at a desk. These days it seems to be a lot about arts and crafts - making a lot of objects, basically. I don't ever remember my parents having to help with a "project." They might have helped with reading practice and some math problems, but it wasn't the kind of complex craft projects that kids are set today. If I were a working parent, I think it would add extra stress. I also don't remember my parents checking on homework. I seem to remember being aware that the onus was on me to do the work and earn the grades.

I don't have any solutions, except maybe to write to the school saying that you have noticed the parental involvement in many projects, saying that you were under the impression that the work should be the children's own, and wondering what level of parental help is acceptable. I just wanted to say that I understand your frustration and I would feel the same!
 

Amber St. Clare

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Dec 15, 2009
Messages
1,628
I ran into this when my son was in grammar school. 2nd grade. I remember the first project that they had to do was a map of their neighborhood.

I sat with my son {who has no artistic aptitude}, he wanted me to do most of the work, but I made him do it, and tbh it wasn't an impressive piece. I helped him bring it in and saw some beautiful work being handed in. He was getting very upset, thinking he was going to fail.

End of the week, they got their grades--he got a high one and the ones that had obvious parental efforts got a C. I remember one father storming into the classroom after the bell demanding the grade be changed, Her answer was "YOU got the C, next time your child ha a project due, let your child do it".

I can only hope your son's teachers have the same philosophy.
 

Maria D

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 24, 2003
Messages
1,837
House Cat|1454703723|3987336 said:
Is this what we are doing nowadays? Are we doing our children's work for them? If so, why? I have older kids and I didn't do this for them. I wonder if I missed something. I am tempted to approach his teacher and say something about the fact that my son did his background all by himself and "did I miss something where parents were to help with drawing and painting?" It's a passive-aggressive move, but I worry that my son will get a terrible grade because their perspective will be so skewed by these parent assisted backgrounds. But if I am being honest, there is no way my son's background can even compete with what I saw.

I have really felt bombarded by all of the blog posts about how the new generation of parents are ruining their children by spoiling them, but I feel as though I came face to face with a glaring example of that behavior last night. What next? Am I to write my son's next report for him to ensure that he gets a good grade? Should I take his Science test for him?

Do you think I should say something to his teacher? Should I just keep my thoughts to myself?
Excellent questions Housecat, my feelings are exactly the same as yours on this stuff. I can tell you that it's not just "nowadays." I went through the same with my daughter, same grade, more than 10 years ago. The assignment was to research an animal native to our State, and make a three dimensional model of it, a background, write a report, be prepared to answer questions about it. My daughter grew up seeing me sew as a hobby and had made a few make-shift stuffed toys on my machine. She decided to make a stuffed animal opossum. Between that and the habitat background, it was a lot of work on my part too, organizing time, getting supplies, teaching her how to put things together...the end products looked like they were proudly made by a fifth-grader.

On the night of the big event, I was astounded to see these amazingly detailed practically life-sized paper mache animals with incredible backgrounds (natural museum worthy) obviously made mostly by an adult. I thought it was ridiculous!

I definitely think parents are doing no favors by stepping in like this, but I know many feel they have to. Some kids get completely overwhelmed by these kinds of projects and there are probably parents who feel that if they didn't just do it (or most of it) for their child, there'd be melt-downs and general misery - so they try to make life easier. I was a stay-at-home mom at the time and could get all the supply buying and organizing out of the way thereby freeing up time to help my daughter do it herself rather than do it for her. If I were working the hours I do now (regular hours of a working mom) there's no way I would have had the time or the patience. It's not like THE PROJECT is the only important thing going on in a family.

So - it begs the question...what is the purpose of these kind of projects for kids this age? I think any assignment should be designed so that it's developmentally appropriate and the child can do it on their own.
 

Maria D

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 24, 2003
Messages
1,837
Jambalaya|1454709492|3987372 said:
It's so different from when my age group was at school. Back then, it was mostly studying and being taught, sitting at a desk. These days it seems to be a lot about arts and crafts - making a lot of objects, basically. I don't ever remember my parents having to help with a "project." They might have helped with reading practice and some math problems, but it wasn't the kind of complex craft projects that kids are set today. If I were a working parent, I think it would add extra stress. I also don't remember my parents checking on homework. I seem to remember being aware that the onus was on me to do the work and earn the grades.
I think you're spot on Jambalaya. In my district the big buzz phrase is "student centered learning." This means that having students' attention centered on the teacher's instruction is no longer deemed educationally sound. Instead, the student is to learn by exploring concepts and having the teacher "facilitate" learning. *sigh*
 

purplesparklies

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 28, 2010
Messages
743
As a parent and a former teacher, I detest these big projects. I do not think it appropriate that school require parents to spend time and money on the supplies needed to complete them. I do not think the educational gain is anywhere near enough for the time and effort required to complete such a project. It just is not a worthy investment.

Also, there is always the issue of the parents who step in and take over the project. Those children learn very little other than that their work is not good enough. How sad is that? Any decent teacher will recognize which parts of the project were parent work and which were student work and will grade accordingly. Teachers do not want museum quality work completed by parents. They know what the student is capable of because they see it everyday. No one is fooling them.

When my child has a project due, I have them compile a list of items needed. I do the shopping, sometimes they are with me and sometimes they are not. Depends on what I need to pick up. I help them learn how to make things organized and neat. How to place things before gluing them to project boards, how to use a ruler to make very faint lines so the text is straight, how to write things with very faint pencil first and then go over with marker, etc. We talk about those things with me occasionally demonstrating what I mean and them doing the actual work. That is pretty much it. I proofread if they ask me to and I may give clues about re-reading a portion or that I found 3 errors. They have to figure out what can be fixed. I do not give them any more than that. Everything else is on their own. Including typing. Yes, it takes them forever but that is part of the learning.

I have many friends who spend long nights and weekends doing beautiful projects for their kids. Many friends do the typing for their kids. Even for kids in high school! It's crazy. It does the child no favors and sends the message that the child can't do it well enough in the eyes of the parent. I won't be a part of that and I don't care if my child is the only one who does his own. It is for his own good.
 

baby monster

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jul 2, 2007
Messages
3,631
I don't think it's new that some parents choose to do projects for their kids. I remember that from my days at school. There were certain children whose arts and crafts were always above and beyond every else's. Their parents were way too involved in school minutia. My parents worked long hours and were unable to help much so my projects always looked pretty pathetic next to those special creations. I still think it was the biggest waste of my time to do those projects and don't recall learning anything from them but I remember how to solve quadratic equations.

As far as saying something to the teacher. They're not stupid and know who does those projects so what do you expect the answer to be?
 

ponder

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Mar 5, 2009
Messages
743
I don't know if it's new or not, but I definitely see it. I am more of the, I'll help you brainstorm an idea, help to gather the materials, but after that you are on your own. I'll help if they need something specific, but I always leave as soon as possible. My oldest is in the first grade and while I have not run into this in classroom assignments yet I have seen a ton in some of the volunteer projects I have worked on.

Two prime examples have been the cover contest for the yearbook and a halloween pumpkin decorating contest. The kids are asked to submit an original work of art to be chosen to grace the cover. I had quite a few tracings and "help" from parents. The teacher committee eliminated all of those from the contest, it's obvious and they know it.

The other was a pumpkin decorating contest judged by PTA volunteers. Our criteria that we came up with was "could our (fill in the grade) age child accomplish this artistic feat on their most talented day?" If not, we picked another more realistic endeavour.

I feel that in our school at least there is a definite push back against parent done projects, work, etc. But I don't think it's going to stop it.
 

packrat

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Dec 12, 2008
Messages
10,615
We didn't have projects like that when I was in school (yanno, back in the day...). Here, in 4th grade, is the State project. Every child picks a state and then after..gosh, I want to say it's like a quarter project, or a semester one even, so after however long, there's a big "to-do" in the gym called a State Fair, and it's open to the public. The kids pick one person who is famous, from whatever state they've chosen, and then then dress like that person. They read about their chosen person and state, then they can bring in things having to do w/that state, they go thru books and magazines, newspapers etc, to find pictures/articles having to do w/the state. They each get a big poster board thing and they arrange everything on their board. They had to also get online and get tourist info for their state. I helped her w/that, b/c back then, I rarely let her on the computer, and she didn't know how to navigate around..and honestly, I TRIED to sit next to her while she messed around and tried to figure out where to go to find the tourist info and then tried to figure out how to fill out the forms to have info sent to her, and it was like chewing tinfoil, so yes, yes yes I absolutely did take the computer from her and did that myself, but I explained things while I was doing it. (Look on the bottom or the sides, for words like "contact us, information, tourist attractions etc) They had to do a "poem", which was one word for each of the letters in their state, which wasn't explained to the kids really well, (does the word have to *start* with that letter, or can it be *in* there) and I had a heck of a time figuring out an outfit for her---she picked Laura Ingalls Wilder, and it turned out a coworkers mom had just the year before sewn a little frontier girl outfit so we borrowed it. (and that coworkers son is in London's grade-he chose Hawaii and was Dog the Bounty Hunter complete w/blonde mullet-so cute!!) We could tell some things were done by parents, but for the most part, it was very student driven-the kids were given a lot of time to do it in school, and it's, for whatever reason, a HUGE deal here, (I guess b/c it's Iowa and we really don't have anything exciting here??? :lol: ) and parents are generally good about letting the kids do it.

Good lord, sorry that was crazy long. The kids have both come home and told us at different times that so and so's mom or dad did some of their work, drew pictures for them, did whatever for them, (and they're indignant about it thankfully) and JD will shrug and say "sorry, you guys are gonna get the short end of the stick then b/c that's not going to happen here"

And then on the other side of the coin, you have my cousin, whose daughter found high school to be difficult, so she started "alternative school" which is like 2 hours a day three days a week to get her GED, but THAT was too taxing on her delicate self, so she quit going...and my cousin spent an entire year doing all of her daughters work for her, on top of working full time, so that her daughter would get her GED. "But, if I don't, she won't graduate and then what will she do?" "Um...maybe realize she needs to get her head out of her ass?" :roll: Ehhhh instead she's like two or three years out now and is just smoking pot all day. Way to be productive!
 

nala

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 23, 2011
Messages
3,839
On the bright side, a grade on this project should not be detrimental for your son. It's fifth grade and unless he is competing to be admitted to a junior high based on grades, there should be no major consequence. You can explain to him your take on his grade. As a high school teacher, I never assign projects in which parents can assist their kids. And if parents do their work, I would be able to tell and I would not reward the student.
I have raised my daughter with the same approach to learning and self-sufficiency as you are expressing and to this day, the most I have ever had to do is get her a tutor for math. She only needed him for a few times and then she learned to deal with her issues by staying after school for review. But I agree with you about the parenting climate these days. She just interviewed for a very prestigious university and my friends keep saying comments like: well you pushed her so much, or you must be so proud that thanks to your high expectations, etc. As if I had done it all for her. It's really quite insulting BC the only thing I ever did was not coddle her! But I guess they can't see that BC they were the parents doing these projects for their kids. I wouldn't bother bringing this up to the teacher. She will definitely tell and if she has any sense, will grade accordingly.
 

momhappy

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
4,660
You think the teachers don't already know? Of course they can tell which parents helped, which parents didn't help at all, and which ones helped a little too much....I'm sure that they take that into consideration when grading. I help my kids with school projects (sometimes too much), but they are there with me and we a re sort of doing it together (in a way). Obviously, the teachers know, so I don't think it's that terribly bad in the grand scheme of things. I think, as parents, you just want them to do well, so it's easy to help a little more than you should. I don't think that it necessarily has to mean that the end result is lazy, entitled adults simply because a parent helped a little too much with a school project.
 

Jambalaya

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Oct 2, 2014
Messages
3,548
Maria D|1454717846|3987439 said:
Jambalaya|1454709492|3987372 said:
It's so different from when my age group was at school. Back then, it was mostly studying and being taught, sitting at a desk. These days it seems to be a lot about arts and crafts - making a lot of objects, basically. I don't ever remember my parents having to help with a "project." They might have helped with reading practice and some math problems, but it wasn't the kind of complex craft projects that kids are set today. If I were a working parent, I think it would add extra stress. I also don't remember my parents checking on homework. I seem to remember being aware that the onus was on me to do the work and earn the grades.
I think you're spot on Jambalaya. In my district the big buzz phrase is "student centered learning." This means that having students' attention centered on the teacher's instruction is no longer deemed educationally sound. Instead, the student is to learn by exploring concepts and having the teacher "facilitate" learning. *sigh*
:-o Crazy world these days, Maria!
 

Maria D

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 24, 2003
Messages
1,837
momhappy|1454732122|3987564 said:
You think the teachers don't already know? Of course they can tell which parents helped, which parents didn't help at all, and which ones helped a little too much....I'm sure that they take that into consideration when grading. I help my kids with school projects (sometimes too much), but they are there with me and we a re sort of doing it together (in a way). Obviously, the teachers know, so I don't think it's that terribly bad in the grand scheme of things. I think, as parents, you just want them to do well, so it's easy to help a little more than you should. I don't think that it necessarily has to mean that the end result is lazy, entitled adults simply because a parent helped a little too much with a school project.
My opinion: teachers who are giving projects for which parents are compelled to help "sometimes too much" are doing it wrong. The parents already graduated from elementary school. The children aren't learning anything all that worthwhile if parents are stepping in that much. I agree with you that it doesn't necessarily mean the child will grow up to be lazy or entitled, and that teachers likely would not give a poor grade to work that was done by the child and not his parent. But I say so what. As a believer in public education, I don't need/want teachers to give assignments that are predominantly for parents to feel like they are involved in their children's lives. Because really, that's what these kinds of things are for - the big show at the end where the "community" gets together and the principal can have something to put in the newsletter. Society needs to educate young people to become competent, industrious adults. Schools should stop making one of their goals to give prompts to parents to do things with their children. Parents can do that on their own.
 

KaeKae

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
May 27, 2009
Messages
2,151
OH, you have my sympathy. I first noticed this, big time anyway, when DD1 was in second grade (she is now a college junior) and far too many of the dioramas on display in the school entry were clearly done by adults and not a 7 year old. Then when DD2 was starting Kindergarten(she is in 11th grade today,) the teacher sent a little project home in the class assignment letter in August. This should have been a fun way to decorate the room on the first day of school. Apparently "Ashliegh"'s mother though she would do a better job than her special little snowflake? Ashliegh was not alone in this issue. My kid had used crayon and macaroni to decorate her project.

Flash forward to the fifth grade projects: Family Heritage for DD1 and The State Project for DD2 (we moved, so different states and schools) Oh, yes, it was clear who did their own work, who had help and who might not have been allowed to touch any of it. Sad. Frustrating. Wrong. And I am sure the teachers knew which child was allowed to do his or her own work and which child was "helped."

As a parent and educator, I cannot express how frustrating this issue is. I wish the teachers would do away with all projects not done on the school grounds. I'm convinced that many of these projects are done for the parents, anyway, as a way for the school to "show" what the kids are learning. I pay attention, I can see my child is learning. Except in high school geometry. I don't think I'll EVER understand that class!
 

asscherisme

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 6, 2006
Messages
2,734
House Cat|1454703723|3987336 said:
My fifth-grade son's Living Wax Museum was last night and the entire event has been weighing heavy on my mind since I have left. This was the large project of the year where each child was to choose a historical figure. Then they were to write a six page written report and give an oral report in costume. After that, they were to paint a six-foot background and write and memorize two sets of lines (30 seconds each) for a living wax museum where they were the characters they had chosen. People come to the museum, drop coins in a container, and the kids come to life and say one set of their lines.

Ok, that was probably way too much information, but...

This was a large project, where I felt all along that it required quite a bit of parental involvement, rather than allowing the child to use his own resources. For instance, my child can't drive himself to a thrift store (or other type of store) for his costume. He can't go to hobby lobby on his own for supplies for the background. Teachers had us proofread all documents. What if my writing skills are terrible? And they are!

Don't get me wrong, I actually LOVE being there for my son. I opted to enroll him in a school that requires 36 hours per year of parent volunteer hours. I'm not a deadbeat parent. I check his homework at night, make sure he is on top of his academics, etc. I'm not trying to cop-out. I just believe that sooner or later, kids should BEGIN to learn to rely on themselves with larger projects.

My son had four weeks to complete the six food background. I helped him by keeping him on a schedule. I felt that was the way I could be most valuable as a parent. We planned his schedule on when he would settle on a design, what days he would draw each item, and when he would paint each piece of the background. When completed, it wasn't perfect, but it was good for the fact that it had been done by a 10-year-old, as all the rest would be! Or so I thought.

We get to the museum last night and MOST of the backgrounds last night had clearly been done by the parents. If not just outright done by the parents, more than 50% of the background was done by the parent and the kid might have colored it in. I was shocked. I walked through the aisles and over and over again, there were very sophisticated backgrounds, all done by parents. Just a handful looked as though they had genuinely been done by the children.

This leaves me filled with questions..

Is this what we are doing nowadays? Are we doing our children's work for them? If so, why? I have older kids and I didn't do this for them. I wonder if I missed something. I am tempted to approach his teacher and say something about the fact that my son did his background all by himself and "did I miss something where parents were to help with drawing and painting?" It's a passive-aggressive move, but I worry that my son will get a terrible grade because their perspective will be so skewed by these parent assisted backgrounds. But if I am being honest, there is no way my son's background can even compete with what I saw.

I have really felt bombarded by all of the blog posts about how the new generation of parents are ruining their children by spoiling them, but I feel as though I came face to face with a glaring example of that behavior last night. What next? Am I to write my son's next report for him to ensure that he gets a good grade? Should I take his Science test for him?

Do you think I should say something to his teacher? Should I just keep my thoughts to myself?
Oh housecat, this is something I am so passionate about. I think it tends to happen more in wealthy and upper middle class areas but is a problem everywhere. I am SO in agreement with you. As a mom of 4, this has always bugged me. And trust me, teachers KNOW when parents do the work. I would rather my children not necessarily be the best in the room but be THEIR best effort. I have no problem bring them to the store but even then, its up to them to plan ahead and have ideas of what they want to buy. My kids have gotten many "A"s on projects that were by far not the best in the room because it was their work, their best effort, their creation. I would rather my child get a B or C on their own than an "A"" that I created for them.

There was a recent science fair at my daughter's school. It was for extra credit. She tried really hard to make a project and it failed and she had nothing to turn in. The science fair was on open house night. This was for 6th grade. Some of the projects there were so obviously don't by scientist parents, not kids. I was making conversation with the teacher and happened to mention how disappointing my daughter was her project didn't work. She told me she would rather a child attempt, try and learn something than turn in a parent project and the grading dilemma it creates. My daughter learned what she can do differently for next year. What did the kids whose parents do their work learn? I told my daughter I was proud of her for trying and there is always next year.

Another similar situation with my older son years ago was kids had to make these realistic land form projects from home made molding clay then paint them. Many looked professional, many looked done by kids. About 50/50 split. My son's was pretty messy (it was 3rd grade). My son got a good grade. It was near parent/teacher conference time so I did bring it up with the teacher and she told me that the kids who obviously did the projects themselves were graded. The ones who were obviously done by parents got a note sent home that said the assignment was incomplete because the child had not completed the project, the parent did. I so respected that.

I have helped my kids edit papers if they ask, but edit, NOT write. And my policy with that it only if they are in the room with me so that I can teach them why I am making changes so they learn for next time.

Oh and to answer your question, YES it has gotten worse. I have seen it escalate over the years. Its insane. And helicopter parenting has gotten so much worse! So so much worse.

DO NOT WRITE YOUR SON'S PAPERS!! But you knew that.

By the way, am this sounds so insane its beyond crazy but when my oldest was applying or colleges in a state of panicked stress he asked me to write one of his college application essays for him. I told him "No way am I doing that." I can edit, but YOU need to write it. He actually said to me "Many of my friends parents are writing theirs for them." I don't doubt it but uh no!
My son got into and is attending his first choice college with the essay HE wrote, grades HE earned. And the sense of accomplishment that brings is priceless. What about those kids whose parents did it. Are they moving into the dorms with their kids? My son lives hundreds of miles away from me 8 months out of the year now and I feel he can take care of himself. What about those kids of helicopter parents?

edited to add: I think any school project that involves a trip to Hobby Lobby should be banned. Even in a house like mine where my kids do their own work, these projects create so much stress for very little if any learning. Waste of time, money and energy. OK I am going to age myself but the biggest think I ever remember having to ask my parents to buy for for a school project was poster board, maybe a new marker or those awful plastic report covers with the plastic ridged thing to hold the papers in that never stayed on.

There is some hope, they tend to almost dissapear by high school. But then again, high school brings bigger and new stresses :(
 

telephone89

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 29, 2014
Messages
3,847
Those are the kids that skate by and then suddenly get into HS or college and have idea WTF they are doing and fail out. They haven't learned anything themselves, and unless their parents are rocket scientists, they (parents) can only take the kids so far.

TBH I think it's parental insecurity that causes this. Kids are perfectly capable of creating a 6ft background - it's not going to be a Rembrant, but it is possible. But parents don't want to feel like their kids aren't perfect. Some people can't bear to see little Melissas background looking awesome, so they try to skew the odds. I think that has more to do with this than what the child can or cannot do.

That being said, any project that forces kids/parents to spend $ is silly to me. Not everyone is in the same financial situation, and forcing families to spend their personal money on something graded is unfair.
 

chemgirl

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Sep 16, 2009
Messages
1,995
I don't have kids, but my mom is a teacher so I hear stories.

This happens a lot and the teachers know exactly what's going on. In theory, they will grade based on preset criteria and not how polished the entire thing looks.

If he does end up with a less than stellar grade, is it really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things? He's 10. You're proud of him for the effort and skills he demonstrated during the project. Make sure he knows that. Not that grades don't matter, but learning to apply yourself is so much more important in the long run.
 

Maria D

Brilliant_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jan 24, 2003
Messages
1,837
chemgirl|1454778793|3987742 said:
I don't have kids, but my mom is a teacher so I hear stories.

This happens a lot and the teachers know exactly what's going on. In theory, they will grade based on preset criteria and not how polished the entire thing looks.

If he does end up with a less than stellar grade, is it really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things? He's 10. You're proud of him for the effort and skills he demonstrated during the project. Make sure he knows that. Not that grades don't matter, but learning to apply yourself is so much more important in the long run.
I don't disagree with anything you've written - but: keep in mind that children will have varying reactions to their less than polished work being on display next to another kid's parent's work. As Kenny would say, people vary. With my daughter's lopsided, raw fabric edge with stuffing poking out the seams opossum, there were classmates that came up and said, "wow, did you really MAKE that?" all impressed. This made her happy - and me happy - because when we first walked in the gym and saw her display next to a huge perfectly executed paper mache moose in a display made with real tree cuttings she had a moment of alarm. There were other kids that were clearly distraught about their displays. If they later find out they got a good grade, or even if they knew in advance, it's still a sad moment in what's supposed to be a celebration of learning.

To me it's not at all about the grade. Does the project have a clear learning goal? Is it developmentally appropriate for the child to do most of the work on their own? If it requires a parent to spend more than a bit of help time and a trip to the store for supplies not normally found around the house, then it is no longer a child's school project but a family project. I'm of the opinion that teachers have no business assigning family projects.
 

yennyfire

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jun 6, 2010
Messages
6,477
I had such a visceral reaction to this post that I couldn't even reply yesterday. This is the story of my life with a 3rd and 5th grader. 3rd grader has a science fair project due soon. The rubric is so complicated, requiring her to do graphs and tables to illustrate the data she collected. I'm sorry, but an 8 year old doesn't know how to create graphs (simple ones, maybe, but the project required her to repeat her test 3 times and the results weren't consistent, making it complicated. )The 5th grader is dealing with his second year of "invention convention" where they have to brainstorm everyday problems, create a product to fix the problem, create 3 prototypes, have a group of subjects test their product and then market said product. Accompanied by a 30 page packet they had to complete throughout the project. :wall: :wall: :wall:

Last year, parents spent hundreds of dollars on the prototypes because you'd build it and it didn't work, so you had to start over. It was beyond frustrating. Some parents had their prototype manufactured for them (I.e. A clear Christmas tree stand so you can easily water your tree, etc.). It was beyond ridiculous. This year, based on parent feedback, if the initial prototype fails, they have to document the points of failure and what they could do differently, but they don't actually have to start over.

It was very obvious that most projects were done by the parents. My son's required sewing and I tried to show him how to use my machine, but after almost stitching his finger to the fabric, I made him watch while I did it so he could explain the process. We (parents) weren't allowed to change the idea that they came home with, even if the ideas were absurd (a vacuum to suck up dog poo in the yard-the poor Mom had to buy a cheap vacuum to try to make this product viable!). This year, he came up with another idea that requires sewing and I told him that he needed to come up with another idea.

How are they ever supposed to learn if the projects aren't age appropriate?? I am so tired of spending hours and hours on projects like this. What are they really learning??

Now, there are definitely projects that ARE age appropriate...book reports, diorama's, etc. They still require me to gather materials, etc. but at least they are projects my daughter can complete independently.

Ugh. This whole topic makes me twitchy!!
 

Bayek

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
May 11, 2013
Messages
6,694
I feel for you, now my sons are out of college but I do remember vividly their having these kinds of assignments, first son didn't care and flunked often :) (he's a computer programmer now).. second son, went nuts trying to get this stuff done. A/P scholar, prestigious high school, degree in CIS and can't find a job and is somewhat burnt out... soooo my thoughts are; if the child wants to do all this inane and basically truly nonsensical assignments then so be it. We all know kids grow at different rates, times, their own schedule, at their own abilities. I remember my mother came to school once in the 60s, and I just about froze, I was sure I was in mucho biggo trouble, turned out she was going on a field trip with my class and didn't even tell me she was! (ah different times)... of course parents didn't care then if their kids went to college (especially girls) as we were setups for 'the wives club' or teacher, nurse, secretary... I so hated doing all this crap when my boys were in school, take the hospitality committee for my first son's school back in Raleigh NC, the head of the committee decided we would have a lunch for the teachers every month except January, when we would give them candy bars etc (yay).. I so so so burned out trying to get mom's to make stuff and bring it in.. true this: we got frozen foods we had to cook.. or people forgot and often... I said enough so I was not very popular!!! with the committee, let's forget this and give them each ten bucks a month to go out to lunch.... we were overkill. it was overkill and it probably is worse now, this was the mid-late 90s... so I digressed as usual.. but I think parents should go back to NOT being in the schools, not helping out as much, let he teachers teach some curriculum and forget all the other junk.
 

momhappy

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
4,660
I was under the impression that some projects encourage parental involvement? I actually enjoy working with my kids on some things. They do the majority of their homework on their own, so it's nice to work together sometimes. I would agree that it's not cool if a parent took over an entire project, but for things like a living wax museum, a certain level of parental support is required (buying costumes, etc.) and like I said, teachers can tell how much help a child received. My kids were responsible for writing, memorizing, and reciting their information and that's what they were graded on.
 

Gypsy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Aug 8, 2005
Messages
40,198
I am not a parent. But I was a child and a student. I remember vividly sewing by hand the 13 colonies at midnight while my parents slept. My project partner spent the night and we worked until 1am when, tired, I stepped on a needle that went through my foot and neither of us knew what to do. So we woke my parents up who took care of first aid, sent us to sleep for 4 hours, and woke us up at 6am to finish.

You know what we learned? Not to procrastinate.

We got a great grade but couldn't appreciate it because all we wanted was a nap.

School is more than grades. It's a about life skills like project management. Budgeting ( we were only allowed to spend 10 bucks on the project and shopped for it ourselves).

The best thing my parents did for me was NOT helping me. It--whatever it was-- was my problem to solve. And if I didn't finish or I made a mistake *I* had to talk to the teacher and work out a solution. My job was to manage my school work and grades from the 2nd grade on. I had to ask for help if I needed it and justify it. Math was torture for me. My grandfather was a math prodigy. We lived with him. He never did ONE problem for me. Though he did help and tutor me. But I had to ask and take responsibility and do the work.

I hated Jane Eyre. I did a crappy book report on it and got a D in 9th grade. That day after class I talked to my teacher and agreed on extra credit project to read Wuthering Heights and I raised my grade in that class back up to a B+ by the end of the semester.

What did all that mean? In college and highschool, during studying for the SAT (by myself no special class), and the LSAT I has the confidence and the skills to rely on myself.

These parents that helicopter their kids thinking of their OWN needs, how fulfilling it is for THEM to help their kids, instead of understanding that kids need to struggle and figured stuff out for themselves to gain necessary confidence and above all to learn how to cope with failure are harming and undermining them because of their own selfishness and pride.

My cousin's best friend had those type of parents. The mom loved being a mom, considered it her prerogative, one of the perks of being a mom and in fact the reason she had a kid, to "help" her kid. He committed suicide the first time he got a F in college.

Extreme case? Yes. But parenting isn't about YOU its about being the guardian and mentor of a future functioning independent confident adult. Too many parents I talk to today do not get that.
 

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 8, 2008
Messages
34,084
House Cat, I'm sorry school can be like this and it is a shame. You are doing exactly the right thing IMO and I agree completely with the other posters who wrote how important it is for your child to do these things on their own or else how will they learn to function in real life. The parents who do everything for their kids including school work and projects are doing their kids a real disservice that will come back to bite them in the proverbial butt at a future date.

I especially agree with what Gypsy so succinctly wrote.
parenting isn't about YOU its about being the guardian and mentor of a future functioning independent confident adult.
Any teacher worth their salt will realize when a project is done by the pupil vs being done by the parent. So I wouldn't worry too much about that. And while I don't have human kids I was a kid and a student and this problem has existed for as long as schools and parents and kids existed so it really is not a new one but it is still a pain and an annoyance and a frustration and I am sorry you and your kids are dealing with this. However your kids will be just fine because they are developing the skills they need to do well in their adult life. Kudos to you for doing the right thing by them.
 

momhappy

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Mar 3, 2013
Messages
4,660
I think that there are any number of factors that can determine whether or not someone will grow into a successful, independent, happy adult. Whether or not you "help" your kid on a school project may or may not have anything to do with how they will turn out as an adult Sure, it very well could play a role in someone's life (to varying degrees), but to say that someone will somehow be a dysfunctional adult simply because they had parents that helped with school projects is not a fair assumption IMO because there are so many variables that shape/mold us into adulthood. I just think that this is one of those things that varies widely by situation, by individual, by family, etc. and I don't think that it necessarily has to have an impact one way or another.
 

missy

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Jun 8, 2008
Messages
34,084
momhappy|1454937348|3988306 said:
I think that there are any number of factors that can determine whether or not someone will grow into a successful, independent, happy adult. Whether or not you "help" your kid on a school project may or may not have anything to do with how they will turn out as an adult Sure, it very well could play a role in someone's life (to varying degrees), but to say that someone will somehow be a dysfunctional adult simply because they had parents that helped with school projects is not a fair assumption IMO because there are so many variables that shape/mold us into adulthood. I just think that this is one of those things that varies widely by situation, by individual, by family, etc. and I don't think that it necessarily has to have an impact one way or another.

momhappy, I think what some of us are saying (and definitely what I am saying) are that helicopter parents who do everything for their child can lead to unhappy dysfunctional adult children. Not all of course because very rarely is something all or nothing but yes that is my take on it. I see a lot of spoiled privileged "brats" for lack of a better word and they don't grow up into independent responsibility taking mature adults. Look around because if you do you might see what I am saying. My perspective anyway.

Now if you are saying as a parent you help your children out with some of their school projects and occasionally do more than what was intended that's OK. I am talking about parents who do almost *everything* for their children and not allowing their children to do things on their own and fail and succeed on their own. Helping them along the way a bit but showing them they can do it on their own is A-OK but doing everything for them and not giving them any responsibility is stunting their emotional growth and development. IMO.
 

partgypsy

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Nov 7, 2004
Messages
6,350
I think teachers need to be clear when it is an all kid (except for helping theme get the supplies etc) project, or something the parent is supposed to team with. I am all for stretching a kid, but if it is something that the majority of kids cannot accomplish on their own, the project needs to be modified.

In elementary school there is more a blurred line, where yeah don't do their work for them, but help them with stuff they cannot do. But the more they do on their own (or even fail because they didn't spend enough time on it) is all a learning experience. And as long as they pass their grade, grades are not that important it is really to teach them to become an independent learner. It is a process.
When I was in HS I remember my mother wanting to help edit and re-word my papers "to make them better." I angrily took my paper from her and said I was going to do it myself and after that did not involve her in my homework. I felt if she did that it wasn't "my" paper. I think it is pretty normal there is a point where the student will want to do it "themselves" and separate even if it is not perfect.
 

House Cat

Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Feb 22, 2009
Messages
4,007
Wow. I am surprised that so many people have encountered this problem. I appreciate the reassurance that my son's teacher will know that he did his work on his own. I also appreciate the reminder/perspective that he is only in the fifth grade. Sometimes I take his grades too seriously. I tend to get into a place of fear when it comes to grades, entitlement, self reliance, and other personality issues because there is always a possibility for kids to end up on your couch in the basement at 30 years old, screaming at you to bring down their bong.

My memory was jogged at how my 21 year old's projects were always terrible compared to many of the other kids. I always thought that was due to our socioeconomic status at the time (I had him at 19, was a single mother) and the fact that he was a TERRIBLE artist! Maybe there was more to his story. Maybe parents were "helping" then too.

It seems I must clarify that I don't resent working with my child on his projects. The first part of my complaint is parents doing their child's work for them. That is cheating. If a parent were to write a history paper for a child, it would be blatant cheating. Painting a background for a child, that was an assignment for the child is cheating as well. There is no gray here. There were several instruction sheets that went out about this assignment throughout the school year and not one said that the parents should help the child draw or paint that background. It was made clear to help them manage their time. What lesson is taught to a child when they are shown that their parents are willing to do their school work for them? Is this honest behavior? What is the child forced to do when they walk into the classroom and take credit for their parent's work? They are forced to lie when they take credit for work that they didn't do. Personally, I would never want to put my child in that position. I believe this behavior on the parent's part begins to unravel a child's moral fabric.

Second, projects that rely too heavily upon parental support do not teach children to be self-reliant when it comes to school work. By the time children are 8-10 years old, they have already perfected the skill of being reliant on their parents... for everything. Larger school projects for this age group should begin to teach children how to be resourceful and to complete projects on their own. These skills are invaluable for later learning. My 21 year old son was always in accelerated learning programs. He said that many of his AP classmates totally imploded once they made it to college because they didn't have their parents micromanaging them. How sad. These kids worked their butts off, were never even allowed to get at "B", and once they got into the prestigious college of their choice, they lost it(drugs, alcohol, break-downs, pregnancy), and dropped out??

The constant hand-holding needs to stop, but it needs to be a gradual release. Projects that require extreme parental involvement or that are so complex/weighty that they compel parents to cheat for their kids do not allow for the gentle push that kids need to become self-reliant and take ownership of their educations. It is a big problem when parents care more about their children's educations than their kids do. I believe that pattern of behavior absolutely establishes itself at 8-10 years old when parents begin completing their cute little projects.

This isn't the same as giving some help or guidance. If your child doesn't have certain skills such a sewing or surfing the net, then you use that as a teaching moment. Working WITH your child on certain projects is definitely necessary, in some circumstances.

Yennyfire, I don't even know what to say about your situation. My jaw dropped when I heard what is going on at your school. My heart goes out to you.

And briefly, I know that there also exists the problem of certain parents who refuse to involve themselves in their children's work at all. I don't believe that larger projects such as these will encourage uninvolved parents to change their behavior. If anything, I think it makes their children feel even more alienated when they can't complete their work at home. This is why I see more value in projects that encourage self-sufficiency, that way the child can work on it themselves and not have to rely on their parents.

A child's grade shouldn't rely on their parent's involvement in their education or socioeconomic status. These projects sort of make it so. A child's grade should rely on the child's work. If little Tony has deadbeat parents or poor parents who can't go out and pay $250 on the project of the year because that is a half a month's groceries, his grade shouldn't suffer. If little Sarah's parents can afford to pay $700 on a custom made costume and her amateur artist mom paints the background, she shouldn't get a good grade on the project.

The positive is that the project is over (for my family.) I have already talked to my son. He is proud of his work. I didn't tell him that other backgrounds were painted by parents. I didn't want him to have strange feelings about his friend's parents. I am going to let this lie. I will remind myself again and again that this is fifth grade. :D
 

yennyfire

Ideal_Rock
Trade
Joined
Jun 6, 2010
Messages
6,477
[quote="
Yennyfire, I don't even know what to say about your situation. My jaw dropped when I heard what is going on at your school. My heart goes out to you.[/quote]

Thanks House Cat! I'm hoping that this year's project won't be as painful as last year's....for my son or for ME! :cheeky: God, I hope that our principal and your principal never meet! That Living Wax Museum project sounds atrocious!! :errrr:
 
Be a part of the community It's free, join today!
    5 Diamond Misconceptions: Part 1
    5 Diamond Misconceptions: Part 1
    Three-stone engagement ring upgrade
    Three-stone engagement ring upgrade
    Vintage OEC Bracelet
    Vintage OEC Bracelet

Need Something Special?

Get a quote from multiple trusted and vetted jewelers.

Holloway Cut Advisor



Diamond Eye Candy

Click to view full-size image.
Top