As a self-admitted control freak, resisting the urge to take over my kids' school project is torture. However, as perfect as I want each project to be, my fear of raising a lazy kid slaps me on the hand and forces me to watch each crooked item remain wherever my little learner decides. But, when it comes to helping kids with projects and homework, not every mom is of the same school of thought:
Get things started
While I'm opposed to taking over, expecting kids to be self-starters is downright ridiculous, so sometimes a little supervision is necessary. "I like to let my son start the project, perform the research and then we go through his work together and add to his efforts," explains Christy Cook of Teach My. "In terms of school projects, I feel children need to be taught presentation and organization skills. I will become more hands-off as the years go by."
Hands-on for special needs children
It may be easy to judge parents getting covered in glue up to their elbows, but each child requires a different level of support based on their needs. "I am a hands-on mother because my child is autistic and has ADHD. It is very difficult for him to accomplish complex tasks on his own," says Natalie Wahl. "However, once he has learned a task, then it is his to do as far and as much as he can."
All in with school projects
For some parents, the only way to keep things clean is to do the project themselves. "For me, it really depends on the project. If it's something that requires a little cutting and glue, then I will guide my kids through to make sure that it gets done," shares Teana McDonald. "But, when we have to build oceans or capture all of the places that Flat Stanley visited, well of course I'm hands on and I'm doing like 90 percent of the work. Not because I want to but because I know it will be a complete mess if I let my kids take the lead."
Project-doer turned project supervisor
Regardless of which side of the fence you're on, it's never too late to become a reformed parent project-er. "As the mom of two boys, I used to feel like I had to help my kiddos with their projects so they would get a good grade and so the teachers and other moms wouldn't judge me as a parent," admits Tara Kennedy-Kline. "Then, one day... one of the moms stated she had to 'run because she needed to finish her daughter's science fair project.' I was so appalled and couldn't help but to see how wrong that was! That day, I decided that we would be willing to help our children to create a project plan, purchase the items they needed to do the project and help them with any experiments or activities that needed adult supervision. If the project did well, they could feel the pride of knowing they earned it!"
Although you may be one of the many moms who admit to diving right in and doing school projects for kids, Renee Thompson, former teacher and current director of education at Kiddie Academy, cautions you to tread lightly when helping kids with homework. "A word of advice for parents who can't resist helping: If you do the work, you will likely get caught. Teachers can always tell when a parent has done the work. If you can't resist, you'll not only lose credibility with the teacher, you're robbing your child of learning time and the sense of accomplishment in completing a project."