And now, in New York at least, there is a solution: the paid homework helper:
If a student finds French grammar or algebra incomprehensible, a tutor in those subjects can help. But if the problem is a child who will not budge from the Xbox, or pens doodles instead of topic sentences, some harried parents with cash to spare have been turning to homework helpers who teach organizational skills and time management, or who sometimes just sit there until the work is finished. . . .
One of those very busy parents is Benji’s mother, Debra Sternberg, who has four boys ages 7 to 15 and, like her husband, Marvin, works full time. She says the service is a lifesaver, preserving tranquility in the short hours that she and Benji have together after work and before bedtime.
“I don’t want to have friction between the two of us,” she said, speaking of homework. “It made more sense for me to step out of it.”
Predictably, there are experts who are concerned:
But it has also led some educators to question whether this trend might simply be a subcontracted form of “helicopter parenting,” depriving children of the self-reliance they will need later in life.
How do I get one of these gigs in which I regularly get quoted in the Times for moaning that every new trend is somehow bad for children?
Musing on some of the marathon struggles I have waged over essays and problem sheets, it struck me that anyone who signed on to be homework helper for my sons would need the patience of Job and the willpower of Napoleon, and even so would probably not last long. There can't be many Americans who would find it worth $15-30 an hour to fight those battles.