Homework functions in tandem with students’ classwork to help them better understand the topic they’re learning. As a result, it’s sometimes tricky or challenging — especially if it’s testing their comprehension.
That’s why some parents are tempted to step in and help with homework a little too much, especially if the child is short on time or just fed up. But completing homework on their own is an essential step in a child’s education.
Even if they’re not doing it 100% correctly, making those mistakes is an important part of the learning process. Through homework, they learn the value of self-led study and gain a deeper understanding of the topics they learned at school.
In this article, we’ll explore how best to help your child with their homework, without giving into temptation and doing it yourself!
Why do some children struggle with homework?
Homework isn’t supposed to be easy. It’s designed to challenge students to get them thinking on their own and to reinforce what they learned in class.
If your child is struggling more than usual, it might be an issue with focus or routine, rather than with the work itself. Improved study habits might solve the issue, and will go on to help them throughout their schooling life.
Keep reading for some tips on establishing good habits around homework.
How much should parents help with homework?
Letting your child complete their homework on their own teaches them time management and self-sufficiency.
But that doesn’t mean you should leave them completely alone! The balance lies in being there for support and guidance when needed, yet otherwise encouraging them to take the wheel. Don’t hover. But let them know you’re available if they really need it.
Setting boundaries from a young age lets them know that homework is their responsibility — if they don’t get it done in time, it’ll be them who gets in trouble with the teacher! That way, when they move on to middle school and high school, they’ll be confident and driven enough to complete it on their own.
Top tips for helping kids do homework
#1 Kids need routine
Establish an after-school routine, then designate a specific place in your house where they complete their homework. This may be in their bedroom, or at the kitchen table so you can keep an eye on them. Wherever their work station, this will help switch their brain into focus mode. You should also approach homework with a strategy — try using a planner to map out what needs to be done by what date. Maybe tackle the harder tasks first, before moving onto lighter assignments.
#2 Remind them that homework can be fun
Frame their nightly homework sessions as a positive activity, rather than something they have to drag themselves through to earn free time. It might not always be fun, but ensuring they have engaging activities and tasks will go a long way toward making it enjoyable.
Try supplementing their homework with a fun game or activity that you can do together. For example, if they’re learning about US history, you could do a crossword with them like this one about George Washington. Or print off some additional worksheets and race to see who can finish first.
#3 Keep track of the time
Before your child begins their homework assignment, determine how much time it should take. The National PTA and the National Education Association recommend that kids should spend 10 minutes a night on homework per grade — 20 minutes for a second-grader, 30 minutes for a third-grader, and so on.
Homework should be a lesson in time-management, so if your child is taking way too long to complete something (but is actually trying hard to focus), call it a night and write a note to the teacher explaining the situation.
#4 Give them a question limit
Like we said above, it’s best to leave kids mainly to their own devices while doing homework. If they tend to lean on you a little more than you’d like, then tell them they can ask you up to three homework-related questions per night and no more! Chances are they won’t want to waste their questions and they’ll end up figuring it out themselves.
#5 Brush up on your basics
If your child is coming to you with questions about a subject you haven’t thought about for 20 to 30 years, you might need to refresh your memory. There are plenty of quick and easy online worksheets you can complete to get your head back in the game.
For example, if you’ve got no clue how to divide fractions (totally fair!), print off the relevant worksheet in this bundle for a quick refresher. Then you’ll be ready to help your child with any questions they might have. And, crucially, you’ll understand enough to guide them through what they need to do to work it out, rather than jumping in and doing it for them.
#6 Make your kids accountable
If your kid’s in one of those moods where they just won’t focus, you shouldn’t force them. Children don’t learn well when they don’t have the right mindset. But if they go into school the next day with incomplete homework and have to skip recess to stay inside and finish it, they’ll be more motivated to do their homework in the future.
It’s important that kids understand what it means to be independent and the consequences of not completing their assigned work.
#7 Find supplementary resources
While everything in your kids’ homework assignment should have been covered in class, they might be struggling in some areas. If they can’t grasp something, look for additional resources online to help them out. They might not want to do any more work, but you can find worksheet bundles with fun facts you can use to help explain a concept.
For instance, this Periodic Table worksheet set has games and fun activities your kids can complete if they need a little extra time with the content.
#8 Let them co-create the routine
Remember that all kids learn differently and focus in different ways, so work together to create a routine that works for you. Some kids might need to play for a bit to let off excess energy, while others will want to get straight into it when they get home. One child might work best sitting at the table, while another might want to spread out on the lounge floor (just as long as the TV isn’t on!). Letting them dictate their study routine will help them feel empowered and independent.
Keep it simple and don’t get overwhelmed
At the end of the day, homework is designed to help your child learn. If it’s taking too long or is too difficult for even you to understand, step back for a moment. Remember that there are endless resources online to help you out with tricky subjects.
Help your children out where it’s needed, but remember that, ultimately, it’s up to them.
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Link will appear as 8 ways to help your kids with their homework (without just doing it yourself!): https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 4, 2020