Skip to content
Whose Homework is it Anyway?

As a mom of four, with the youngest in Kindergarten, homework is a very definite part of our family’s life.

My husband and I believe that our role in homework is limited to those things that the school encourages us to do, namely:

  • listening to our kids read out loud
  • spelling practice (Dictée)
  • helping the kids practice their addition, subtraction and multiplication tables

Occasionally we, as parents, are assigned with some annoying task like sending in plastic container full of snow – NOT ICE- (that shouldn’t melt before they get it to school?!?!) or pictures of all the family members in a certain size…by a certain date.

We have found our way to be present for this part of their homework using some tips and tricks which I will likely share in a separate post.

Other than what is outlined above, however, it is our firm philosophy that the rest of it is the KIDS’ homework- not mine and not my husband’s.

Even if we had enough time in the evening to sit with each child while they completed all of their homework, we wouldn’t want to.  How will they learn to work independently if we are constantly holding their hands?

That said, it seems we are in the minority.

For example: My grade 3 boys were recently assigned a group project.  Granted that the original guidelines were vague, but the teacher sent out a second email with research questions to better guide the children as well as instructions that this was a project to be done by the kids.

You cannot imagine the buzz about this project.  Having barely spent any time in the schoolyard,  I knew all about how the parents were just freaking out over it. I kept wondering just what I was missing.

In any case, I had no intention of being involved, apart from providing the kids with supplies and supervising them during their internet research. (We don’t like our kids to be on the internet unsupervised). Oh – and the printing- Three boys around my printer was inviting trouble so it was up to my hubby or myself to print.

I spoke with the mom of the other boy that would be working with them and thankfully, she was all for letting them do the work on their own.  Phew!

During the first get-together, the boys researched the questions provided by the teacher and discussed that they wanted to present it on bristle board, not in a duo-tang.  During the second get-together, they decided how they wanted to communicate the information and they put it together.  I left the supplies out and checked up on them to make sure things ran smoothly (boys will be boys, after all!).  I was thrilled to be kicked out because they were working!

I had left them foam lettering that I had thought they might use for the headings (didn’t tell them this, though). They decided to do the WHOLE project in foam letters. I wouldn’t recommend it but IT WASN’T MY PROJECT.

When they were almost done, I’ll admit that I helped by handing them the letters they required in the interest of time, it was getting late and they’d been working for several hours.  I also mentioned that they should think about leaving space for other letters (The 3 boys were placing stickers simultaneously on the bristle board).  That said, their sentences were placed all topsy-turvy and  they threw sparkles all over it in random places , and although that’s not what I would have done, I let them.  Because IT WAS THEIR PROJECT.  Both the other Mom & I thought that the result was great.

They got together to practice presenting it this past weekend at their group-mate’s home, which I was told took about 10 or 15 minutes.   That’s perfect for me, because it’s their project and they are in Grade 3 and it’s likely more time than they needed.   And if it isn’t, then they’ll learn for next time.

It was handed in this week, and who knows what the teacher and class will think of it?  Here’s what I do know:

The 3 boys took a set of research questions provided by their teacher and produced a finished project ON THEIR OWN.

So what happens their mark is not as high as the other projects with much more parental involvement?

  • I will remind them that I am so proud of them for doing it all on their own.
  • I will not run to the teacher and complain that it’s not fair, but
  • I will encourage them to look at what they think they could have done better, and if they are not sure,
  • I will encourage THEM to ask their teacher.
  • That’s how they will learn how to conduct a post-mortem…in grade 3.
  • They will be armed with that knowledge going into their next project.
  • That’s how they will learn.

All this of course, if they don’t get a great mark…but they probably will 😉

What’s your philosophy on parental involvement in homework?  Please share your thoughts!

Have a great day and hope you’re not bogged down with too much homework tonight 😉


Share this post:



  1. Great topic. I have faced this problem many a time but totally agree that the kids need to do their work by themselves. Ask my kids how many times they’ve heard me say “I’ve already graduated elementary school, now it’s your turn”. Although we all want the best for our kids and want them to succeed, if they don’t learn by trying it themselves, it won’t get any easier!!!

    • LOL I like that! I agree. Thanks so much for sharing, Cheryl!

  2. My daughter started kindergarten this year and been assigned projects for show and tell, including designing a poster complete with pictures of her family and her home. I pulled out pictures that she could pick from and let her pick what inspired her and what she wanted to share. It was a lesson for me in what spoke to her and how she wanted to represent her family. Apart from my support and presence, she did it by herself, including practicing what she wanted to say. I think it’s tempting to feed kids lines and try to moderate what they put out there – both to “protect” them and perhaps satisfy our own desire for their success. But I’m with you – the pride, learning and esteem that grows from the opportunity to do it themselves is far more powerful and life-serving than the momentary and quickly forgotten A.
    Thanks for the tips the follow-up post, by the way. 😉

    • Good for you & good for HER! She must be so proud and I can see that you are, too 🙂 Glad you like the tips!

  3. Interesting take on such a relevant topic…it seems to me it’s all relative at the end of the day…what is a “great mark” anyway???

    • Love that you asked that, Corrie! In fact, when I was writing the post I considered rewording that last sentence. I let it be, deciding that “great” was relative to the individual and that a great mark can be different for different students. I could get into a whole post about marks in general and how the marking system is far from flawless…but I’ll leave that for another time. I think that perhaps the bigger point is that, as parents, we need to manage our own expectations of what constitutes “great” with marks and otherwise. This may lessen the propensity of some to jump in on their kids projects. While marks tend to be the barometer used to evaluate our kids’ academic achievements, I think that we need to be able to recognize and nurture the greatness in every child… beyond the mark.

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.