Brasilmagic\’s Weblog

Venting to the World

Cultural Differences: Homework

Brazilian children are raised to be less independent in every way. Many children are still raised with nannys and maids who make their beds, pick up their clothes, do their laundry and prepare their food. Teenagers cannot drive until they are 18, so mothers take them drive them everywhere. Middle class teenagers don’t normally take buses because parents don’t feel they are safe, so they are dependent on their mothers. An American teenager at the same age is a lot more independent and able to move around more independently. And since most Brazilian children live with their parents way into their 20’s, they are less apt to deal with life’s challenges.

Brazil is still a matriarchal society, and fathers have less involvement in their children’s lives. It’s uncommon to see fathers playing ball with their sons, or taking their children to the playground. Young kids may be with the nanny, with the mother and sometimes with the couple. Unfortunately, Brazilian men still think their role is to work only outside the home.

Now, when it comes to homework, Brazilian parents are not very hands on, while American parents think they should be involved on a daily basis. In Brazil, very few parents help their children do their homework. It is the child’s responsibility. Obviously parents may help when the child does not understand something, but they don’t monitor it the way American parents do.

When it comes to homework, I can offer my personal experience: I never had to worry about my children’s homework , and I may have helped them (explaining something they didn’t understand) only a couple of times each. They were both excellent studies through elementary, middle, high school and College. In my perspective, it’s the kids’ responsibility to do their homework. If the homework is not done, they need to feel the consequences. When they grow up, no one will tell them they have to go to work every morning or pay their bills, so it’s part of the learning curve of life.

Not every parent can sit back and relax like I did though. Some children do need help in understanding a task, and many children do need to be coaxed into remembering and completing their homework. Now, no matter how unmotivated or behind your child is, NEVER do the homework for them. You are not allowing them to think, you are taking away their responsibility and you are actually cramping their learning experience. Don’t be a helicopter parent!


May 17, 2011 - Posted by | Difference between cultures


  1. i somehow doubt that you children just magically woke up and were excellent students without some extra encouragement from you (or someone else). if they were raised in an american school, then i assume they were encouraged by teachers. if they were raised in a brasilian school, i doubt it really mattered how good they were in elementary school or college.and if you are the typical mid-upperclass brasilian female, then perhaps you got someone in your staff to do it for you. in my experience, the lack of independence in brasilian students goes much deeper than not being able to “do” anything for themselves.they also seem incapable of such things as deductive reasoning and logic (and i mean basic logic – not necessarily school based), and i have been surprised to see that many (if not most) of the adolescents i teach have the attention span of much younger children in north america. i was also surprised to see that most of them go to school for only 4 hours a day, and they perceive anything outside of those 4 hours as “hard work.” most of them also have not even learned basic (what i thought were universal) manners (like not talking while someone is standing up trying to teach them something). i have often made students stand in front of the class and try to talk to me while i loudly talk to someone else. thankfully, as brasil continues to grow, what i am witnessing is a trend in young people travelling to other places (usually europe or the usa), returning home, and applying what they learned elsewhere to their lives in brasil. they are learning to think and plan ahead, and to be personally responsible and accountable (things that are not regularly taught in brasil, but are necessary if the country is to continue to move forward).

    Comment by bamabrasileira | February 20, 2012 | Reply

    • I don´t think so. At least where i lived when i was a high school student is that the brazilian student were teach to think by themselve and have a very critical observation of the world around them. Most brazilian teachers are very left wing and to give students some perpective on life. And most brazilian parents still think the teacher is right when a student challenge him. The real problem is that the whole concept of education it´s not valorized in brazil. Most people don´t like reading books or caring about education beyond getting a degree.

      Comment by Hebert Magno | December 22, 2012 | Reply

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