As a parent, your role in your child's homework is a supporting one. You should be nearby and available to encourage, offer assistance, guidance, answer questions, interpret instructions for assignments, and look over the completed homework. It is important that you fight the urge to provide the correct answers or complete their homework.
Instead, focus your efforts on helping your child to learn problem-solving skills, which will be helpful for them throughout their schooling and beyond. Be sure to give encouragement, especially as they start to develop these skills.
Here are a few more kids homework tips:
- Establishing a homework routine is key. Make sure you convey to your child the importance of their homework. It is a top priority. Help them to select a time and place that will be working on their homework each day. Set boundaries such as no television, radio, phone calls, video games or other electronic devices until the homework is completed, checked by you, any revisions made, and then completed before they may move on to other activities. It’s important your child has no distractions during homework.
- Help your child select a strategy for doing homework. Teach your child how to take inventory of their homework so they will know how much they have each day and what it will take to complete their assignments. Then help them to create a homework strategy that best helps them to tackle their workload. Different strategies work for different kids. Some may be more successful tackling the hardest assignments first while others may choose to get the easiest done first and have that momentum to finish the hard assignments last. Others may want to do it class order, because that's how they remember the assignments and class discussions. If you help your child to develop these skills from the beginning they will be able to take on the responsibility themselves as they get older. Also, allow them to take a break, should they need, to get recharged, focused and back to the task. If you choose for your child to begin their homework right after school, a healthy brain food snack will help them to be successful with their homework.
- Teach them organizational skills. We were not born into this world with organizational skills, we have developed them over time with guidance and practice. Organizational skills really become important by the time kids reach middle school/junior high because they usually first experience multiple teachers and classrooms at this point in their schooling. Organization is the key to educational success beginning during this time period. Start sharing with your child how to use organizational items such as daily planners and calendars as early as third grade.
- Show how school applies to real world solutions. Share with your child how the lessons they learn in the classroom also apply in the real world. Give examples using meeting deadlines, how math is used many times during the course of a normal day, and how history is being made each day.
How Can I Solve Homework Problems?
As your child gets older, homework could become more difficult and it can weigh them down and make it more difficult for them to manage. Here are some strategies that can help:
Be available. When your child is working on their school assignments, be nearby, but not on top of them. Give them space, but be available to help when they need. If they have a math problem that they can't yet solve, have them take a break for a few minutes, then go back to the task with a fresh, clear mind. Sometimes walking through the problem with them at this point will help them to realize their error. And, always ask how you can help them.
Keep in contact with their teachers. Be in contact with your child's teachers throughout the entire school year, and especially if they are struggling with homework. Make sure that you attend all parent-teacher conferences. Their teachers can share with you what happens in the classroom, and how your child can succeed. Some schools even have online progress reports for individual students and their classes, to include class assignments and grades that are updated every few days.
Remember those study skills. With all of the things that are required to be taught in schools these day, sometimes study skills aren’t emphasized enough. When you are helping your child to study for a quiz or test, suggest using flashcards, quizzing them from their notes, or that they underline important things while they are reading.
Reaching out is important, too. You'll find that most teachers will help your child, and may be available before or after school, and they may also have a planning period during school when they can provide assistance. Their teacher may also be able to provide direction for additional resources that could help. Be sure to encourage your child to reach out to their teacher for help. Remember that in school, students are rewarded for knowing the correct answers, and no one likes to feel foolish for not knowing. Make sure that you praise your child for their efforts and successes.
Keep on top of your child's academic challenges. Don't wait until their report card comes out and then you are surprised. Remember, the sooner you get your child on track, the better it will be for everyone involved.
How Can I Tell if My Child Struggles With Homework?
One of the red flags that might indicate your child is struggling with homework is if they consistently complain about it. There may be a problem.
Sometimes the resolution is simply teaching your child better study habits. Check to see if they are writing down their school assignments, when they are, and if they are correct. If they are not already writing them down in an agenda, encourage them to do so, and to fill out the agenda at the end of each class. School is a pretty busy place, and if they wait until later in the day, the homework assignments may not be as clear, or potentially forgotten altogether. In the agenda, the name of the assignment, page number, and when it is due are very important. They could write a “NHW” (no homework) and circle it as an indicator for those classes where none was assigned.
If a particular assignment is a challenge for your student, don't hesitate to contact that teacher to share details and search for a solution together.
If your child consistently has difficulty finishing assignments in multiple classes, they may be facing other challenges such as learning disabilities, ADHD, or potentially hearing or vision problems.
If you review your child's homework, and keep in contact with their teachers, you should be able to identify if there is a learning challenge, and be able to address it sooner than later.
Be Present and Set An Example
To truly be successful with assisting your child with their homework, you need to know when to and not to step in and help. Make sure your child knows you are available to help them. It's too easy to get distracted as a parent with phone calls, etc. which can be deflating for a student who is need of your help. You should also recognize and encourage effort and determination, and not just the grade that they receive.
Express to your child how much you loved learning in school, and even now. Be a good example for them as kids generally hear a lot of negative from their classmates. Do some of your “life” homework while they do theirs. Balance your checkbook, write in your agenda, etc. You have the power to change their outlook on school, tests, and homework!