Helping with Homework (Part II)

Now that you have created an environment that is conducive to high quality homework completion, it’s time to dive in, get hands on, and help your child with his/her homework. Below are tips for supporting your child’s homework efforts.

Be available during your child’s regular homework time. Although it might be tempting to run errands or get in a workout at the end of the day, try to make yourself available to your child. You can use your child’s regular homework time to complete household chores, ensuring that you are around to provide support when your child needs it.

Be interested in what your child is learning. Even if your child does not ask for help, it’s good to stop by and check in on him/her from time to time. You can ask questions about what your child is learning, share experiences you have had with the subject, get into a discussion about the topic, or listen to the things your child is learning. Your interest and concern helps your child stay motivated.

Help your child when he/she gets frustrated. When children get frustrated with a homework problem, your help is needed. Try letting your child talk through the problem, or providing some helpful hints to direct him/her in the right direction. Be careful not to give away the answer, but instead, provide guidance so your child can arrive at the answer him/herself. If your child has reached the point of no return and is overwhelmed with frustration, you can be a huge help by simply suggesting a short break from homework.

Expand your child’s learning beyond the classroom. Giving children the opportunity to take what they have learned outside of the classroom and apply it to real life will help them better understand and remember what they’ve learned. You can even apply academic information to your child’s interests!  For example, help your child understand math by discussing the statistics from last night’s baseball game. Encourage your child to expand his/her reading skills by looking up and reading articles about skateboarding. You can even broaden on your child’s knowledge of history by visiting a museum.

If needed, find extra support for your child. If your child is continually struggling with a subject, and you feel as though you have exhausted the level of support you can provide, look into outside resources for more help. Some schools provide peer tutoring, some communities have volunteer tutors, and some teachers are willing to spend a little extra time before or after school to work individually with students.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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Helping with Homework (Part 1)

Homework is a part of every child’s life.  On average, 5th and 6th grade students have 1 to 1.5 hours of homework each night, while 7th and 8th graders have up to 2 hours of homework each night. As a parent, there are things you can do at the beginning of the school year to set your child up for a successful year of high quality, homework completion!

Make sure your child has all the supplies necessary to be successful. Schools provide a list of school supplies before beginning each year. Help your child be prepared by ensuring he/she has all the supplies on this list. Especially for middle school and high school student, getting your child a planner is a great way to help with organization. Finally, be sure to provide a well-lit, quiet place at home where your child can complete homework.

Set up a regular homework time. Even if there are nights when your child does not have homework, establishing and maintaining a regular homework time will help your child stay organized and stay “ahead of the game.” When your child does not have specific assignments due the next day, suggest that he/she work ahead on assignments, or study for upcoming tests.

Make sure your child understands the teacher’s homework expectations. Most middle school and high school teachers give students worksheets that explain homework assignments. Help your child be successful by reading through these instructions together, and if possible, clarifying anything your child does not understand. If the directions are unclear to you as well, encourage your child to talk with the teacher and ask questions. This might be scary for some students, but as a parent, you can help ease these fears by reminding children that teachers want to help students be successful.

Encourage your child to work with “homework buddies.” Talk to your child about finding one student in each of his/her classes who can be a homework buddy. A homework buddy is someone your child can call with questions about assignments, someone who can take notes if he/she is absent, and might even be someone your child can work together with to complete assignments.

Get in touch and stay in touch with teachers. With advances in technology, there is a variety of ways to maintain contact with teachers, including email, phone, and in person visits. Teachers can inform you of your child’s academic progress, his/her behavior in the classroom, and things you can be working on with your child to encourage development. You can let the teacher know of any changes at home or in your child’s life, and also find out ways that you can get involved in your child’s classroom.

Donna Donald

Donna Donald

Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.

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