Homework Helpers

Coaching kids with homework is a great way to improve their chances of doing well in school. Not only does your assistance open lines of communication between you, your children and the school, it also teaches important lessons about responsibility and time management.

But sometimes in our zest to help our kids to excel, we parents can go a little too far. (Some teachers even report kids handing in homework in a parent’s handwriting!) After all, you already passed that class. So how much help is too much?

Think guidance, not dependence

Dr. Patti Zomber explains that parents must avoid actually doing a child’s homework. Complete their assignments for them, and your kids won’t be able to understand and use the information. Nor will they grow confident in their own abilities, but rather become too dependent on yours. A better approach is to help your children develop productive study habits now.

“Sometimes I did do some teaching as a parent,” Dr. Zomber says. “But more often than not, I acted as a ‘consultant,’ setting up study schedules and looking over their work. When they got stuck, I was there.”

Dr. Zomber also reminds parents to not put too much pressure on kids regarding their grades. “This can lead to dishonesty because they feel they’re not meeting your expectations,” she says.

Homework tips for all ages

Ages 2-5

Younger children may not have homework yet, but it’s not too early for parents to instill good study habits. Start your kids on the right path by creating a learning space just for them. It should be well lit with few distractions. Help your child organize books, pencils and crayons, and remove as many distractions as you can in this space. If possible, let them decorate this learning zone to make it uniquely their own.

Ages 6-9

When students first enter school, they often need additional guidance. Review their homework before they start to make sure they understand the directions. Do a few problems together and then watch your child do the rest. When your child is finished, check the work together. Don’t forget to praise them when they get an answer right, and show him or her how to correct mistakes while still having them do the work.

Ages 10-12

By middle school, the complexity and amount of homework increases, so students might need help with organization. Have them record their assignments on calendars or planners, along with due dates and whether or not they were turned in on time. Be sure to talk about long-term projects with your child, mapping out a plan for success.