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How Much Is Too Much Involvement in Your Child's School Project?

Where do parents cross the line in trying to help their kids with a project they really should be doing on their own.

It could happen around the time of the science fair. Or when something's worth almost half of a class grade. Or when you feel sorry for them.

We're talking about parent help on schoolwork. Sometimes students bring in these really elaborate projects, or perfectly poised prose on their presentation.

As a teacher, can't help but wonder if little Johnny or Jane got some grown-up help on their projects.  Of course you are not at the student's house when it all comes together. But you have suspicions. Why did the parent feel the need to do so much work? And what does the student really learn from all this extra help?

We want to ask you: 

How much is too much involvement in your child's school project?

Let other moms know what your experience has been in the comment box below. It will be interesting to see how much you all have come across this as parents, if at all.

Heather April 19, 2011 at 07:48 PM
This is a hard one...I know as a parent, we want to see our children succeed and get good grades. I have the philosophy that as long as my child does the research and is hands on in the project, I don't mind helping her bring it all together. I'm certainly not going to sit and do the entire thing for her but I will help as much as she needs me to. If parents do the entire project for them, they really are not learning what the project was intended to teach them. In addition, what kind of example are we showing? They need to learn responsibility and to get things done on their own. I have to admit, as a middle schooler and high school student, my grandmother would read my books for me and write detailed accounts of the information chapter by chapter. God love her! I disliked reading and still do but do you think by me not having to do it myself, it only heightened my distaste for reading? However, I did "ACE" all the tests I had on the books...Hmmm
Marci Dawson April 19, 2011 at 08:57 PM
I always have a hard time consoling my children who, with the exception of some oversight (i.e. maybe I should help you burn that paper before you torch the house, etc.), do their projects on their own. Then they go to school and see the projects of their classmates, many of which definitely look like they were done by adults and feel that they have done a less than adequate job. I want them to be independent, and I want their projects to reflect their own interests and abilities, but it's definitely hard seeing what they are sometimes up against.
Rita April 20, 2011 at 02:09 AM
My son is only in first grade, but he has already had a few projects... The first project I helped only a minimal amount - I oversaw what he was doing, told him to fix a couple things that were messy... When I saw the projects brought in by the rest of the class I was shocked and felt bad for my son. But he didn't seem too upset. I think teachers (at least I HOPE) know when students are given an unduly amount of assistance. The last project he had to turn in I think I did help a little more... Marci is right, it is hard!
Jamie April 20, 2011 at 10:41 PM
While parents helping with projects have their child's best interest at heart and want their children to feel successful, they are really doing their children a disservice when they get overly involved in the execution of the project. Children do hear the doubting comments from their peers and sometimes even their teachers when the project is too too perfect. Usually the judges of these events can pretty well discern that this is or is not a child's individual and independent effort and include the conclusion in the final evaluation. Parents giving a bit of guidance and assistance is a good thing for both the child and the parent. Knowing where to draw the line is important to allow the child to go through the intended experience.
Kim B April 22, 2011 at 12:55 PM
Our school tends to do a lot of "in class" projects. When posters come home that have detailed information and research on them, I am very proud! It does seem like the projects that are assigned for homework are harder though… which makes the parent want to help out. My kids do the majority of the planning, rough drafts and research by themselves… I just point them in the right direction (look at THIS website for your info. Print out a page and highlight areas for them to read, etc…) Then I stand by their side while they complete the final draft of the project, in case they need help with something. I agree that it is disheartening when you arrive at school to see the ones that were displayed - were the ones that looked like an adult helped too much.

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