Parenting dilemma: Should parents do their kid’s science projects?

Parenting dilemma: I made my son do his own science project, but when I got to school to see all of the projects, I was embarrassed to see his compared to the other kids’ projects that were obviously put together by parents with time and money to spare. What’s the best way to handle this?

Every Friday at 8 p.m., readers meet on the Chicago Parent Facebook page to help solve parenting dilemmas. 

“I have a second-grader and I see it all the time. My daughter comes back and says “so and so’s project was better or so and so did this” and it’s clear the kid didn’t do the project. As my dad says, “worry about what you do, not what others do” and it’s true. I tell her, “your project was better because you did it by yourself.” — Joey P. 

“ALWAYS have your kid do his/her own projects. I despise parents who are so fixated on “winning” that they forgo the lesson.” — Kelley F.

“Our kids’ teachers prefer it when the parents help out. I would just ask the teacher what their thoughts are on it.” — Jeff B.

“In the long run your son will be so much better off. You are teaching him so many valuable lessons of life. Good for you.” — Linda H.

“It depends on the child’s age, capacity and how big the project is. A child from 4 to 8 would need parent support and it is expected. At 9 and above it is expected that the child can read and write well, know how to do basic research, and it is expected he/she do most of the work, with little support.” — Johana M. 

“You can help but let them do the project! You won’t be there when your son gets a job and has to do a project at work. People who do work for their kids (different from helping) are doing their kids a great disservice!” — Heather F.

“First of all, the schools should make these projects kid friendly. Second of all, these parents should stop the competition of how perfect it looks and let the kids be creative no matter how good or bad it looks.” — Jim H.

“Good for you for having your kid do his own project. I, too, had my daughter do her own science project. I don’t care if the other parents judge me. I’ve taught my child a valuable lesson about what she puts forth being good enough and THAT is what is important to me.” — Jennifer E.

“As a parent and a teacher, it’s obvious and NOT impressive when a parent clearly did the project for the child. My third-grader’s projects look like a third-grader did them, and his teachers are grateful for that. The same goes for students in my classroom. Keep it up, Mama! Kids need more resilience and less entitlement.” — Tricia P.

“If you can see the parents’ involvement with the other kids’ projects, the teachers can, too. You are not doing your kid any favor by taking over these projects. I always love seeing what the kids made, and it’s sooo obvious when mom and dad took over!” — Valerie M.

“I, too, have helped my kids with their projects, but I regret doing too much. The schools expect us to help, but do not insist that the kids do it themselves, therefore the parents end up doing too much of the work. The problem with that is that our kids never learn how to do things themselves. We are doing them a disservice by helping to much. You should be proud of your son and tell him you are. You did exactly what we should all be doing, letting our kids do their own projects.” — Geenah S.

“99% of parents go to Michaels and buy the projects that take a few steps to build or make and BAM your kid has a nice project.” — Rosie Z. 

This article originally appeared in Chicago Parent’s January 2020 print issue. Read the rest of the issue. 

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