Study Says Kids' Homework Load Bigger

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If 6th grade isn't the end of childhood for 11-year-old Cindy Schottanes, she can certainly see it from there.

"I used to ride my bike down the street to an ice cream store, but now I can't," she says.

As CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod reports, the problem is homework; 2 1/2 hours a day of it.

"I have my social studies section, my language arts section, my science section, my math section health and more stuff that you can save," she says.

In every town in America, parents are watching their kids struggle.

"We didn't have that much homework when we were kids," says Cindy's mom Jill Shottanes.

Studies show she's right. Since 1981, homework has stayed about the same for high school students -- but for 6- to 9-year-olds, it's tripled.

Which is why a growing number of parents, one in four, now say they get involved in homework in ways they shouldn't: providing answers, not guidance.

"Sometimes final papers will come in and look really remarkable for a 7th grader," says teacher Kristy Valedaserra.

Yet finding a parent to admit they've done their kid's work isn't easy. Deborah spoke with us only after we agreed not to use her last name or show her kids' faces.

"By the time 10:00 rolls around, or 10:30 - even though you know you're supposed to help them get the answer - after a while you give up and actually give them the answer," she says.

Parents like Deborah say they're not looking for a competitive edge, but they just want to share their child's burden. What, they wonder, could be unethical about trying to get your kids some sleep?

A lot, says Randy Cohen, a parent of a 15-year-old, and writer of "The Ethicist" column for the New York Times Magazine.

"This is a terrible way to approach the problem," he says. "If you're acting in a way that really helps your child learn, that's terrific.

"If you're acting in a way that simply helps get an answer but not learn anything, that's dreadful."

Cohen says the most ethical solution is to write a note to the teacher saying after an earnest attempt, the child ran out of time.

The real solution to this problem? Wait till you children go through adolescence. And then they will never even tell you what homework they've got. You'll be lucky if you know where they are.

It's not a comforting thought. But for parents of any pre-teen buried in homework, these may actually be the good old days.