Teaching Reflections · Topics for Parents and Students

5 Ways Teachers Know Parents are Doing Their Kids School Work…….PLEASE STOP!

Throughout my 14 year teaching career, and that of my husband who has been teaching for 17 years, we’ve had some good laughs about work submitted by students that has clearly been completed by their parents. Unfortunately, this practice has increased in regularity, not decreased in the teaching profession; the advent of ‘helicopter parenting’ has only compounded the problem. Regardless of it’s regularity, I still can’t wrap my head around why parents are doing this.

But one thing is for certain……..they aren’t fooling anyone. Yes, parents, we know when you’ve completed your child’s homework, assignments, presentations or projects. Actually, it’s painfully obvious and we wince because we’re so embarrassed for you. We don’t call you on it because we can’t prove it, and when we do you create a variety of excuses to cover your tracks or blame your own child, but it’s you who is in the wrong.

Here’s a little cheat sheet of HOW we know it’s YOU………

Writing Voice – Did you know that in writing, people’s voices are as distinguished as they are verbally once you get to know them? Yep, true story. I tell my students this all the time; it’s how I catch any plagiarism as well. Teachers read their students writing on a regular basis, and when their voice ‘changes’ or isn’t present at all, then they know immediately that the work isn’t authentic.

Vocabulary – Shockingly, adults (regardless of their academic history) have a significantly more developed vocabulary than children or teenagers. Similar to voice in writing, teachers become very aware of their students’ vocabulary banks and high frequency words. Also, younger children and many teens often use Tier 1 vocabulary words, while adults are more prone to using Tier 2 words. Again, once vocabulary changes half way through or completely, teachers know the student isn’t completing the work.

Work Comparison –We love when our students improve, we really do, however they don’t miraculously jump from achieving 50% to 80% in one assignment. Usually, students slowly improve over the course of a semester. We also keep past work from students (and/or can remember the quality), therefore when work of a much higher quality and level is submitted it’s a red flag that it doesn’t belong to the student.

Conferencing with Students– When we are on the fence about work authenticity, we usually call students up to our desk to talk about it. We’ll ask the student questions about the work, and get them to explain certain questions or discuss something about the assignment. If the student has not completed the work, it’s obvious. More than once, I’ve had a student who couldn’t even read what was written on their own ‘assignment’. Here’s where they sell you out, parents. After it’s clear the work isn’t theirs, they throw you under the bus and admit that their parents (or sister, guardians, etc.) helped them. Of course, they don’t admit cheating full out – they’ll say something like “I talked and my ____ wrote my answers, they must have changed some words.” Busted.

Presentation Disasters –Many student work projects or culminating assignments end up also being class presentations. When parents have ‘helped’ with these types of assignments, the ‘presentation’ portion ends up being disastrous for students. Compounding the fact that they are nervous to begin with, they usually can’t read half of what their parents wrote, let alone explain images or examples. As the presentation progresses, it becomes painfully obvious to the audience (peers and teacher) that the student has absolutely no idea what they are talking about. In the end, it’s the child who suffers – and kids aren’t shy to call them on it.

PLEASE STOP……….for your child’s sake

So you see, parents, you aren’t fooling us when you complete your child’s homework, assignments, projects and presentations. Deciphering the situation is actually quite easy, regardless of the fact that we don’t always call home to chat about it.

Speaking of chatting, why don’t we list a couple things you’re doing when you don’t let your child complete their own school work:

  • robbing the child of a sense of accomplishment
  • robbing the child of problem solving skills
  • robbing the child of a chance to fail, try again, and succeed
  • robbing the child of LEARNING
  • teaching the child that cheating is OK
  • teaching the child dependence (ON YOU)
  • teaching the child that you have no respect for their teacher
  • teaching the child to avoid challenges

These are just a couple of the tidbits that go along with doing your kid’s school work, and I could go on. Clearly, this list is not comprised of any lessons you want to teach your children. Listen, we know you want the best for your child – so do we. But they need to learn things for themselves; if you can’t let this happen you’re the one who will be paying for it in the future.

We only have your child in our class for one school year, but you have them for life. Is your dream to have a fully functional, employable adult OR a 27year old living in your basement for the rest of their lives? You pick. It starts here………..STOP doing their school work.

P.S. Thanks to all parents who DO NOT complete their kids school work and actually let them face challenges, fail if necessary and try again. Keep up the good work!

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