Hi, Dr. Laura Schlessinger here with your questions for me. From Raquel:
"How much should a parent help with school projects? [Actually I think you should do your projects for your kid, while your kid eats cookies watching television because everybody else's parents are doing their kids' projects so you don't want your kid to be disadvantaged. Just kidding!]
My 3rd grader has several projects and reports he is working on, and I feel the need to help him but know I should not. I practically have to tie my hands behind my back and leave the room so I don't end up doing the project for him! [I remember that feeling.]
When he has a question I find a way for him to come up with the answer himself but if he is doing 'C' work and just being lazy, how do I encourage him to do better without getting too involved? Or...do I just let him finish the project and have him see the 'C' grade the teacher gives and let reality be the teacher?"
A couple of things here (first, I was only kidding in the beginning), this thing you do where he asks you a question and you do this Socratic method and help him come up with the answer himself is brilliant! That gets an A+ from mother Laura. That's exactly what you should be doing. But take it a step further, make it very exciting to him to go to that next level. "I can't believe you got that, it's so great!" [Goes from smiling and excitement to an inquisitive look] and "What do you think you're going to do now to get that project sort of come alive and..." and then you challenge him. That's not doing it for him, that's challenging him to dig down inside.
He's in 3rd grade that makes him about what, 8 or 9 years old? He doesn't really understand the "moment" of a C. He doesn't really get it and he's a guy. And the guys generally, at this age in school, are talking about muscles [flexes and points to bicep] or how they can throw a ball and not about what grade they get. So you make the learning and the creating sort of exciting. Where dad comes home and says, "Oh my! You did that? That's fabulous!" [Goes from smiling and excitement to an inquisitive look] and "What do you think you're going to do with that color?" or "What do you think you're going to do with that idea? Hmm..." And so he'll start thinking. It's not that he's lazy, it's that he's 8 years old and frankly, for a little boy, this is not the most interesting thing to do with his day.
So I think you're on the right track. Stay with it. Yes, most of the other kids - their parents are cheating for them. But your kid is going to grow up and be honest. He may not have a lot of company [laughs], but he will be honest and he will be proud of what he creates.
I'm Dr. Laura Schlessinger. Until next time, go do the right thing.