Parents are stepping aside, relegating what once was seen as a mom and/or dad imperative to a relative stranger known as a homework helper.   Really–and not to be confused with a tutor.

A tutor comes to the task with a specific expertise or two.  For instance, many kids hit a math wall when algebra is added to their rosters or have trouble comprehending their textbooks.  If a parent doesn’t get it either, then a tutor is paid to come rescue the situation.

But such is not the case here.  As explained in the New York Times article, “Like a Monitor More Than a Tutor,” homework helpers are not teachers with an expertise in a certain subject area.  Think of them, instead, as generalists and perhaps even task masters.  As New York City’s Central Park Tutors’ co-owner Mike Wallach explains it:  “This niche industry caters to students who are capable of doing the work but need someone there who can just be there with them to consistently do the work in a regular manner.”

The company’s site puts it this way:  “[Along with tutoring services] for those who need it, we also have experience focusing on organization, learning disabilities, emotional frustration, or lack of interest.” 

Homework helper or parent substitute?  You decide.