5 Ways You Can Help With Homework

We have had our share of homework ups and downs at our house. I have seen my children definitely become more independent as they have grown. But I still feel like there is a role for me as their organization and interest level continue to develop. Depending on your child’s age, learning style and temperament, there are different kinds and levels of parental involvement needed. Remember, your role matters!! Research shows that parent involvement can have either a positive or negative impact on the value of homework. Being involved in your child’s homework (but not too involved!) shows that you value success in school and appreciate the importance of education. Be positive about homework and school. This is an important message to convey to your children early in their academic journey. Here are some tips that may be helpful for your family:

1. Get ready. Your children have had a full day by the time most of us can get to homework. They need you to be patient and positive. Try your best to refresh yourself before you start homework. I know this can be difficult between finishing up your own work, driving to activities and figuring out a dinner plan. But we all know that the subject/predicate worksheet is more tolerable when we aren’t overwhelmed and tired.  Maybe it is a yoga class, a few minutes alone or a quick walk. Find what works for you and recharge.

2.  Pick the right place and time. Most kids need some supervision but there are those rare children who can go to their rooms and work completely independently. My children would be very, very busy in their rooms but no homework would get done. Also, most children need computers for some aspect of their homework and computer work should be done in a public space. Try for a well-lit, quiet place where you will be nearby. There should be no TV on, no headphones for music (read about this study) and social media should be turned OFF. They may be master multi-taskers but these distractions impact attention and work. Pick what time your child does homework carefully and plan for breaks, if needed. Some children (especially younger ones) need to have a snack and jump right in. Others can have an activity or some down time and then tackle homework. Kids with learning differences or ADHD (attention deficit hyperactive disorder) may need to take a break every 25 minutes.

3.  Only get involved as much as your child needs you to. If you are lucky enough to have a child that knows what homework needs to be done and does it carefully and completely then you get to back off. Be careful, however. Don’t back off so much that you would not be aware of a problem creeping in. On the other hand, maybe your child needs you to start at the beginning and break down the homework assignments into steps. Or perhaps you can just step in midway to check that your child is completing assignments carefully.  Maybe all your child needs if for you to be close by and available for questions. You know your child best, be there just enough but not too much.

4.  When your child does need help, offer guidance, not answers. Too much help does not let your child develop persistence which is a very important step towards independence and resiliency.  Know when to stay away from projects. Your child’s project is meant to be age appropriate, not perfected by an adult. (And BTW the teachers know when it is not the child’s work.)

5.  Check the schedule. f homework is a constant struggle, be sure your child is not over scheduled. It is very difficult to concentrate after 8 hours of school then 2 hours of activities. Scaling back the schedule can be very helpful. If your child is still struggling, talk to your pediatrician and your child’s teachers to see if there are other ways to help.

Helpful Links

Helping Your Teen With Homework from KidsHealth.org
Helping Your Gradeschooler with Homework from Kidshealth.org
Printable Homework Completion Chart