I'll just echo the what others have suggested: don't judge when you haven't been there yourself.
My kids are highly independent with their homework: they entered school as teens (after unschooling during their earlier yeras) and by then were such highly independent learners that I have stayed entirely out of the loop, letting them handle it all. But there have been times in the past when I provided support that helped them focus more effectively on the actual learning task rather than being defeated by the mechanics, in particular for my ds who has dysgraphia ... but also for my eldest dd who struggled with perfectionism. And although I've never had to do it, I can totally see how there could be circumstances when it would be very appropriate indeed to type a paper for a child.
There may be situations in your children's futures where circumstances of personality, illness, learning disabilities, scheduling glitches or communication difficulties lead to your child being defeated by things that have nothing to do with the intended learning in their school assignments. In such cases you will have a choice: to allow your child's education to be derailed by the problematic issue resulting in his or her self-esteem and confidence suffering and making it even harder to cope the next time, or to provide the scaffolding and support necessary for your child to learn and grow through accomplishing the intended learning. I would hope that you, like most parents, would be able to see the big picture and recognize that Always Doing Your Own Typing is not necessarily the bottom line in education and life lessons.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
I'll have to think about this since it hasn't come up here. I have to tell her to do homework, and she tries to put it off, but in the end she just does it.
Just to clarify- when I say type a paper, I only mean type- not write. I am typing it from her rough draft. Sometimes she is in the chair next to me and we are talking out the topic, etc, and she is a verbal learner, and this helps her so much. But I don't DO the writing of the paper. The rare instances where I type, are usually when she is overloaded with homework, or had a late basketball game, etc. My role is usually proofreader, questioner, partner in brainstorming, etc.
Yeah, but if she'd been away for a long weekend on a music trip with the regional youth orchestra, and she'd spent the four-hour drive home from the music workshop writing her history essay in a notebook so that she'd have a good start on it and would be able to spend the evening at home working on her math and science, and then arrived home to an email from Friday saying that Ms. Simpson wanted a typed draft of the history essay submitted on Monday morning, and your dd dissolved in tears because she'd done everything right and planned her weekend out responsibly to fit in the essay and the math and the science and the music, but she didn't know until now that there was a Monday deadline for typing the essay, and her version was pretty much done, just handwritten, and she was already going to be up until 11 finishing all the science and math after a crazy intense weekend of music ... I'll bet you'd be willing to do her typing.
Life can be messy. You and your dd may be lucky. She may not have dysgraphic tendencies or an anxiety disorder, or an atypical learning style, or an educational path or family life that necessitates a lot of flexibility and resulting organizational glitches. You, like me, may never need to intervene to support your child in growing out of an overwhelming set of circumstances by offering to type an essay. I can certain imagine scenarios when it would make a lot of sense to do so, though.
Mountain mama to three great kids and one great grown-up
I agree with all the past posts. I posted this thread because I was just not sure what counts as/is generally thought of as "over the line". I'm honestly surprised that the typing thing has been such a hot button thing. To me, the typing part is sort of a small aspect of writing a paper. The things that I am noticing in terms of parent involvement go far deeper than typing a blog response of taking dictation --- but go to vocabulary and even advanced thought processes and ideas on the material. For some of the blog answers on DC's classroom page it appears to be almost the exact opposite of what we're talking about - kids doing the typing, adults doing the rest. Not a bad thing to keep in mind for those who focus strongly on the act of typing being a big part of the paper.
To me, that is more where a parent needs to be cautious and where I have chosen to focus on limiting my involvement.
For instance, my DC has a design project...and her group's choice on the idea of the design and the execution is somewhat limited in its creativity, in my opinion. I could easily implant my ideas and have it "seem" like DC's work. I have resisted that urge. Where I have stepped in was in the one dictation, some help with formatting of Publisher, and I also gave DC some ideas on how to use technology to implement one of her ideas.
This is my own thing but I have noticed a phrase pop into my head: "You know what you could do?" It's how I would phrase something if I were trying to impart my own vision/ideas to DC's work. So, whenever there is an "You know what you can do?" urge, I just suppress that. It's HARD!
All of this has inspired me to try to find a good way to talk to DC's school about this. So far, I haven't had a lot of free time to speak with these teachers who are all very busy and hard working but I think I will ask for some feedback about specific ways to help and ask them how they evaluate work given the apparently huge variety of levels and types of support students are getting from home. I will be sure to post here if I get some answers!
@IdentityCrisisMama - I think you have the key to navigating this and that is to talk to the teacher. Basically you want to make sure that what you are helping with is peripheral aspects of their homework and not the main learning objective. So if you can get the teacher to clearly spell out what their learning objectives are you can easily figure out where to draw the line on how much help you are willing to give.
I do hear you on seeing other students work that clearly has a lot of help. My son's elementary often seemed that way. It was frustrating at times to see him get a lower grade when I felt like he'd met the objectives of the assignment, but it seemed that his work was being compared to that of students whose projects when well above and beyond making his seem lacking. Sometimes when you child struggles with something such as organizing a big project it really feels like the school is looking at you to just fix your child. My son tends to turn in work that was very obviously done by a student his grade level. They aren't perfect and they have issues.
The area I help in a lot more than other parents is with proofreading. It's an area that my son struggles in significantly. Even thought he's a sixth grader he'd turn in assignments with no capitalization or punctuation if I didn't sit down with him and go through every assignment that I can to check for those mechanics. I haven't done this in the past, but he's now at the point where I really feel this skill is behind and we need to work together so he can start recognizing the types of things he needs to look at before handing in any written assignment.
I need to go back and re-read all the responses, but I've got to run out the door and want to reply while it's fresh in my mind.
The goal of homework should be to help kids learn. If certain teachers have certain ulterior motives (busywork, or using homework as a quiz) I just disregard that. I do whatever it takes to help my kids learn. I don't do their homework for them, but I do help them learn the material. I view my role as a teacher at home. If it helps them learn the material for me to read it to them then I'm all about that (not a usual occurrence at our house but it has happened). If it helps them learn how to write a better paper for me to go through and point out the errors (punctation, comma splices, etc), then I'm all about that. I don't change their ideas. I do let them bounce ideas off me and offer my input only as requested. I do suggest other alternatives when there's a time crunch and dd1 has a project to create a model of a cell in Science in whatever way she wants and dd1 wants to hand sew it. I know she can't do that in one night and get all her other homework done, so I will gladly point out why that's not a good idea and suggest she might want to think of some other ones.
I would have absolutely no problem with any of the help offered in the OP. No problem at all. I did see last year (6th grade) where typing with one finger was going to hold dd1 back, so I had her complete the BBC's typing program by doing 10 minutes every day after school. She's much faster now and uses two hands. Spellcheck catches most spelling mistakes and she corrects them. She's tons faster at researching and writing her papers, too.
She needs a lot of help in Math (just not the way her brain works), so we are always reteaching those concepts, but we're not doing it for her — just helping her understand the material. Her math teacher doesn't particularly "get" her and doesn't understand how best to reach her. If the goal is to have dd1 actually learn the material it just seems a no-brainer that if we have the insight to help her learn it we should do that. Should we actually give her the answers or do the problems ourselves — no way, but we sure do (mostly DH) sit with her and go through each problem and make sure she understands it all.
"All you fascists are bound to lose" — Woody Guthrie
I've never liked it when a project looks so good on the display table in middle school or high school that you wonder if they hired an artist to do it for them. You can always tell when an adult has done the entire project for a kid in school. Always! And I can't stand it when a kid doesn't do it on their own. As far as basic every day homework I think it's fine to help them.
Single (divorced), self-employed working, college student MOM to:
17 yr old
11 yr old
4 yr old
I just had an interesting experience with helping DC do her portion of a group project. After this thread, I did sort of back off. Not *just* because of this thread but also because I had observed DC move through a computer learning curve much faster than I expected (so some of my worries were alleviated).
Or so I thought...
DC did need some help with formatting to print (she is doing a board game design and her portion of the group project was to do the "trivia" cards). I was helping DC decide how she could get an image on the back of the card. I informed her that simple outline drawings done by her would be easy to transfer into the computer. This went SO well. I really think I helped teach DC how to accomplish her own vision and I was AMAZED at how quickly she learned some basic tools and functions in Photoshop. We both felt really good about it.
Then when I went to help her format the images in document she and her group had created at school I found out that they had this crazy size document. Apparently, the document was originally created by another student in DC's group. I had NO idea how to work with it and neither did DC. It was like 12.8x14.7". Neither of us could get it to print in any sort of reasonable fashion. So, there was a good lesson there -- format your own work! And get help and keep the entire design process in mind when deciding how to format. DC had to reformat and retype like 50 questions (hard for her and hard in general with our combined knowledge of how to achieve that with a computer).
Ah, the trials and tribulations of helping a kid with no academic computer knowledge make way in a new tech-focused school.