Author Topic: Question about childrens school projects.  (Read 4075 times)

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MindsEye

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #15 on: January 17, 2013, 12:56:44 PM »
When I was in grade school and high school my parents never helped me (or my brothers) with class projects.  Part of it was that they both worked, and had little time left over.  But most of it was that they had the attitude that it was my project, my grade, and therefor had to be 100% my work.  Sure, they would drive me to the store if I needed supplies, and they would happily proof-read papers, but that was it.

There were always the kids with whom it was glaringly obvious that Mommy and Daddy had done all of the work for them, but they were few and far between.  Maybe one or two per class? 

Fast forward a generation. 

I do not have kids (I am 35), but I have several friends with grade-school aged kids.  And they tell me that apparently parents doing the bulk of the work on their kid's projects is now apparently the norm. 

One of my friends told me that this sort of thing had gotten to be such a problem at the school her kids go to, that at the beginning of the semester PTA meeting (so not quite two weeks ago) there was an announcement reminding parents that they were forbidden from making "significant contributions" to class projects, and that doing so was considered to be a misrepresentation of their kid's abilities and a breach of the school honor code. 

Yikes.  I am sure that it is not that bad every where, but still...   It makes me worried about the morals/ethics of the coming generation if they (and their parents) see no problems with them turning in someone else's (their parents') work as their own.

For the OP, if you feel uneasy enough about the amount of work that you are doing on your son's projects that you feel the need to ask us if you are doing too much... then maybe you are.  I think that you are fine telling your son that he needs to do more of the work himself.  (And if he likes your handwriting "better", maybe this is the impetus he needs to work on his own handwriting a little!)

SiotehCat

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #16 on: January 17, 2013, 12:59:43 PM »
I actually really enjoy helping with the crafty side of his projects. I didnt do much of this stuff when I was a kid.

The problem is that I'm not very good at it. My handwriting isn't any better then DS's. In fact, I would bet that most of his teachers don't realize that he's getting help.

For some of his projects, he does a lot of it on the computer and then we go to the library and print it out. Sometimes we don't have time for that.

lowspark

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #17 on: January 17, 2013, 01:04:06 PM »
My parents usually didn't help with my projects other than buying supplies. The exception was 4th grade, when I hated my teacher (the feeling was mutual) and therefore decided not to expend much effort in her class. Amid lecturing of the "you're cutting off your nose to spite your face!" variety, my parents ended up doing one of my major projects. (IIRC they were a bit insulted by the grade they got.  ;)) In retrospect, I don't know why they bothered. A few Cs in 4th grade wouldn't have had much impact in the long run.

Regarding the bolded, I agree! Not only would it not kill a kid to fail once in a while, it might also be the push to make them work a little harder or plan a little better or whatever.

The parents should be encouraging the child to do well and the child should be gaining confidence and satisfaction from it so that when they don't do well, it's enough of a disappointment to the child to incentivise them.

When I was in grade school and high school my parents never helped me (or my brothers) with class projects.  Part of it was that they both worked, and had little time left over.  But most of it was that they had the attitude that it was my project, my grade, and therefor had to be 100% my work.  Sure, they would drive me to the store if I needed supplies, and they would happily proof-read papers, but that was it.

There were always the kids with whom it was glaringly obvious that Mommy and Daddy had done all of the work for them, but they were few and far between.  Maybe one or two per class? 

Fast forward a generation. 

I do not have kids (I am 35), but I have several friends with grade-school aged kids.  And they tell me that apparently parents doing the bulk of the work on their kid's projects is now apparently the norm. 

One of my friends told me that this sort of thing had gotten to be such a problem at the school her kids go to, that at the beginning of the semester PTA meeting (so not quite two weeks ago) there was an announcement reminding parents that they were forbidden from making "significant contributions" to class projects, and that doing so was considered to be a misrepresentation of their kid's abilities and a breach of the school honor code. 

Yikes.  I am sure that it is not that bad every where, but still...   It makes me worried about the morals/ethics of the coming generation if they (and their parents) see no problems with them turning in someone else's (their parents') work as their own.

For the OP, if you feel uneasy enough about the amount of work that you are doing on your son's projects that you feel the need to ask us if you are doing too much... then maybe you are.  I think that you are fine telling your son that he needs to do more of the work himself.  (And if he likes your handwriting "better", maybe this is the impetus he needs to work on his own handwriting a little!)

Not only their morals & ethics, but really, their independence and abilities. When does it end? Will Mommy & Daddy follow them to college and do their work? To the office?

The earlier a child learns to be independent and do their own work and to take responsibility for the failures and pride in their successes, the more likely they are to be successful as adults.

JenJay

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #18 on: January 17, 2013, 01:06:16 PM »
I don't help at all unless my kids ask for help (and need it, as opposed to wanting me to do the thing for them). If they do need me I'll help them understand how to do it and I'll get supplies but I won't do any part of the actual project for them.

I'll never forget the time I went to my 3rd grade son's class for a parent-teacher conference and she had all these pioneer style covered wagons on display. They were incredible! Wooden spoke wheels, canvas covers, tiny model barrels and crates within, etc. There sat DS's cut open milk carton "wagon" with tinker-toy wheels, a piece of copy paper for a cover and some Lego barrels full of Lego food. I was embarrassed. I had offered to help him a bit but he'd refused, said he could do it on his own. Clearly the other kids had had help. I felt like explaining to the teacher "I offered to help him, really!" but I kept my mouth shut.

When we were back in the car DS said "Mom, did you see the other kids' wagons?" and I thought "Oh man, here it comes..." He said with pride "They SO had their parents make their wagons, don't you think? Not me, though, I did mine!"  :D

That same year my DD was in 5th grade and entered the Science Fair. Again, I did not help except to purchase her requested supplies and hand them to her (the only help she'd requested). When we got to the fair you could see that some of the experiments were amazing, real scientific stuff. Ornate displays, extensive typewritten papers, etc. My DD's poster was a little sloppy, she had handwritten her proposal, notes and conclusion on notebook paper. This was a k-12 charter school and there were awards for each grouping (elementary, middle and high school) and then one overall award for the very best project, judged by three of our teachers and three from the local school district. My DD had won that top honor. I cannot tell you how proud I was, heck still am 2 years later. Her experiment wasn't the most high tech, nor did it have the cleanest presentation, but dang if it wasn't hers, idea through execution, and she rocked that puppy!
« Last Edit: January 17, 2013, 01:12:02 PM by JenJay »

Virg

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #19 on: January 17, 2013, 01:26:45 PM »
When I help my kids, I have certain limits around which we work.  I'll do scut work for them if they need it, like the above-mentioned helping them glue ten thousand popsicle sticks into a fort they designed, and I'll do anything that they can't easily do for themselves, like getting supplies or working with stuff they're not used to (soldering or welding or carpentry sorts of things).  I don't ever do the thought work for them, so the design work for the planets mobile was on them but construction was a group effort, and I helped cut out shapes for the shoebox diorama but only after the shapes were sketched out.  If labels or printouts need to be generated, I'll print them but only after they tell me what they should say.  In the end, I'll do stuff that helps them bring an idea into the real world, but other than basic discussion I won't do the creative or learning work involved, and I won't do all of the build work for them.

So, SiotehCat, I would have indeed been helping with gluing and coloring things so the answer to your question, at least for me and mine, is that your son is right and I don't think what you described is too much help, as long as you're just writing what he told you the posterboard should say.

Virg

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #20 on: January 17, 2013, 01:33:44 PM »
My parents did not help me on projects.... only checked my work (or project) when it was finished. They would give me tips AFTER I did the work (are you sure you want to say XXX right here?) type of thing.

If I didn't get something done on time, that was tough. I failed, or got marked down until I turned the project in. Once I realized I couldn't get mom to help me, I pretty much sucked it up and got the stuff done on my own.

I will do the same with my son (he's only 2 right now). I have absolutely no intention of doing his schoolwork for him.

JenJay

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2013, 01:43:25 PM »
When I help my kids, I have certain limits around which we work.  I'll do scut work for them if they need it, like the above-mentioned helping them glue ten thousand popsicle sticks into a fort they designed, and I'll do anything that they can't easily do for themselves, like getting supplies or working with stuff they're not used to (soldering or welding or carpentry sorts of things).  I don't ever do the thought work for them, so the design work for the planets mobile was on them but construction was a group effort, and I helped cut out shapes for the shoebox diorama but only after the shapes were sketched out.  If labels or printouts need to be generated, I'll print them but only after they tell me what they should say.  In the end, I'll do stuff that helps them bring an idea into the real world, but other than basic discussion I won't do the creative or learning work involved, and I won't do all of the build work for them.

So, SiotehCat, I would have indeed been helping with gluing and coloring things so the answer to your question, at least for me and mine, is that your son is right and I don't think what you described is too much help, as long as you're just writing what he told you the posterboard should say.

Virg

That reminds me of a project DD took on last year. She was given an assignment regarding Colonial settlements, to either write a paper or do a project. She opted for the project (she loves all things crafty!) and decided to do a Popsicle stick replica of Jamestown. Unfortunately she procrastinated until she realized she only had about 1/3 of her project finished and only a few days until it was due. She begged us to help. We refused because she had chosen to take on a big project, knew when it was due, and procrastinated. She ended up using a white t-shirt and fabric paint to make something else and got a B. She was annoyed because the fort would have been an A, but such is life.

That said I absolutely would have helped if the teacher had assigned a Popsicle fort and only given them a week or two to do it. I expect my kids to do their best on their own but if I feel like the assignment is unfair I'll step in. For example my DS (currently 5th grade) came home with math homework consisting of about 30 problems of long division in addition to some spelling and studying. The school district policy states that his grade should not have more than 90 minutes of homework per night so he felt pressured to hurry and got overwhelmed and frustrated. I told him to do the first 10 problems by hand to demonstrate that he understood the concept (I checked them to make sure they were correct) and then I handed him a calculator. He still had to go step by step to show his work, but he was able to finish what would have otherwise been an hour's worth of math in about 20 minutes. He was concerned it was "cheating" so I told him to explain everything to his teacher and have her contact me if there was a problem. I never heard from her.

RebeccainGA

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #22 on: January 17, 2013, 01:49:35 PM »
I had, and have, absolutely inscrutable handwriting. It looks like Sanskrit. Seriously. I think I'd probably have been flunked every grade if I'd had to hand write everything. My grandmother helped me type my reports in very young grades, and I had a computer in my family from about 6th grade on (it was an 8086 with a Windows competitor OS on it - nothing fancy at ALL). Mom and dad had no time and little interest in my school projects - except for the one that required me to build a 'dog wash' frame out of PVC pipe, which dad did enjoy. I was responsible for it all, including buying supplies when I helped with the family shopping.

CakeBeret

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #23 on: January 17, 2013, 02:13:39 PM »
I never got help on school projects, period. I was a straight A student and my mom was too busy to help. In retrospect, I wish she had shown even a modicum of interest aside from grousing about having to buy posterboard.

I would say that it's great to be a sounding board for your kid, and help with menial tasks if they ask (coloring/stenciling on the posterboard, printing copies, etc) but the work and the thought process should be 100% theirs.
"From a procrastination standpoint, today has been wildly successful."

snowdragon

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #24 on: January 17, 2013, 02:17:15 PM »
I got help in grade school, high school and college from parents - but that was because some of the projects were stuff I could not do with out help. As a child with know and medically diagnosed issues with cor-ordination cutting was often beyond me. The teachers knew this and decided "if she wanted to she would just  make up her mind to do it." Notes from Dr's on this ( and other issues) did not help. So parents and brothers and even neighbors helped.  I thought it out, they did the cutting/ hauling/ anything that was out of my ability range - after I tried it myself and failed ( of course!)
  In college I got help with ideas on who to interview for projects and cutting if it was a project like making clothes or such. In grad school, I had someone come with me when I was photographing  graves in case I got hurt ( and I actually fell into a fox hole one day so this was a good idea)
  The point I am trying to make is that people need help, different help at different stages, but there is no shame in needing it... as long as the parent is helping and not doing the work for the kid I see no issue.  ( So gluing help= ok, but actually doing everything on the project/report= not so much)

m2kbug

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #25 on: January 17, 2013, 02:39:04 PM »
I help with some of the messy and technical stuff.  I will demonstrate how to apply the paint to create certain effects (planet project).  Since the planet had so many moons, I helped with some of the paper mache and painting of the moons.  When I'd go down for coffee, I might add a couple strips.  This was more for time, since it takes awhile for that stuff to dry, and it was only paper strips.  When they were little and did "about me" posters, I did more in terms of applying letters and placing the pictures, but they did the gluing and any other stickers/coloring/painting.  When my child made a trophy, since a heated knife was required, I did that part.  She did the rest.  I try to keep as far away from as much of it as I can, as this is their project, even if it doesn't come out as great as I'd like.   ;) 

Lately, the past couple of years, I really haven't helped at all outside of showing them how to spray paint and making sure surfaces were protected or tossing out ideas on how to accomplish this project. 

jaxsue

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #26 on: January 17, 2013, 02:48:15 PM »
Growing up I did my own school projects (60s-70s). That seemed to be the norm where I lived.

In the 90s, when my boys were in school, it seemed that their peers had lots of parental help. It was very obvious at times. We only helped in small ways, but made sure it was truly their work. Also, if they procrastinated we didn't bail them out.

I think the question is: is your child being hindered from learning or developing important skills due to your (general) help?


Giggity

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #27 on: January 17, 2013, 02:50:54 PM »
30 years ago, the three of us did our own work.
Words mean things.

bah12

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #28 on: January 17, 2013, 02:51:02 PM »
My daughter is just pre-school age, so I have no practical experience with this as a parent.  I remember my parents helping me very little.  They would proof-read papers when I asked, but I basically did all my projects on my own.

I do remember once in elementary school, my dad telling me that I was a "project manager" and I could delgate certain tasks to him...for instance, I had him color some stuff blue.  I told him he was in charge of the color blue, but I had to tell him exactly what to and he refused to help with the planning.  I had to come up with the plan and the execution plan and then he did some labor for me.   I liked that because I remember learning what both project management and delegating meant.  I even remember telling my teacher how I was a project manager and delegated some work and her having me stand in front of the class and teaching them how to manage their projects too.  I felt very proud.

I imagine that I will do pretty much the same with my DD.  I'll proof read papers and offer feadback if she asks me to and help do some coloring/gluing etc, if she asks for it.  But the work itself has to be hers.

magicdomino

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Re: Question about childrens school projects.
« Reply #29 on: January 17, 2013, 03:21:16 PM »
My mother didn't help at all on projects on the grounds that I was the one who was supposed to be learning from it.  I suspect she was a little old fashioned and couldn't understand what I was supposed to be learning from building an atom anyway.  Unfortunately, my work always looked worse than everyone else's.     :-\   

My two-cents: Let the child plan the design and do most of the work, but it doesn't hurt if the parent assists a little when asked.  Also, please buy copper-colored sequins for that copper atom.  Red ones look kind of stupid.