Educators work tirelessly to present age-appropriate information to their students through their curriculum. They won’t expect first graders to tackle calculus, but the lessons may still prove a challenge to some kids. This guide explains everything you need to know about helping your child with homework so they don’t struggle on the path to educational success.
When Should Parents Help With Homework?
Young students may not have much to do for their homework assignments. A new semester might also start without much challenge for older students in middle and high school. They’ll encounter lesson plans that require a fresh perspective and might not know what to do. Reaching out for help can be the best way to learn from the challenge and move forward, but they may not ever ask.
Parents should start helping their children with homework when they display frustration or begin having difficulty in a particular class. Explaining the content differently, restructuring their study habits, or encouraging them with positive reinforcement could be all they need to continue thriving.
Signs You’re Helping Too Much
It’s possible to accidentally go too far when helping your kids. Sometimes it’s difficult to tell where the line exists between assisting them and giving them the answers. If you spot these signs, your help may need to take a step back:
- You’re writing their papers for them.
- You’re giving them answers without explaining how you go them.
- They ask for you to finish their homework without attempting it by themselves.
When children don’t get the opportunity to work through complicated problems, they don’t develop as they should. They’ll lack confidence, become less independent, and rarely develop leadership skills that help them succeed outside of school. It’s worth reflecting on your potential helicopter-like parenting if you’re already very active in helping your child with homework.
Signs Your Child Needs More Help
Leaving your kids complete on their own can also have negative effects. They may display behaviors or traits like:
- Never asking for help
- Giving up on schoolwork
- Feeling pessimistic about school in general
It’s always okay to ask your child if they need any help while working on a school assignment. At best, they’ll voice their frustrations and get the support they need. At worst, they’ll decline your offer as they grapple with their problem-solving skills.
Tips for Helping Your Child With Homework
No matter what your parenting style looks like, you can help your kids with their homework by utilizing these tips. They work for students in any grade and can last throughout a child’s grade school years.
1. Get to Know Their Teacher
It’s easy to connect with your kid’s elementary school teacher personally because there’s only one educator per class. That changes when your teen has more than one instructor in middle school and high school.
Get to know the teachers in charge of the subjects that most challenge your child. They may have a particular teaching method that they need students to reflect on in order to earn good grades. Sign up for parent-teacher conferences and discuss their homework policies or classroom expectations whenever you have concerns for your young student.
2. Establish a Homework Area
If kids spend all of their free time on the couch, they’ll associate that space with their most frequent activity. It’s challenging to enter a study mindset when they’re sitting in their favorite chair for watching TV or playing video games.
Adults have the same mentality. It’s why you have a separate space for your home office or delegate your budgeting sessions to your kitchen table. Establishing a space specifically for tackling homework will help your kids stay focused and learn more efficiently.
They could each get a small desk in their bedrooms or playrooms. Maybe you could dedicate a portion of your dining room to their studying. The best strategy depends on where they prefer to work and how much space you have in your home.
3. Build Homework Into Their Schedule
Sometimes kids dread starting their homework because it feels endless. Building it into their schedule gives them a solid start and end time. It also makes their assignments a non-negotiable part of their afternoon, which they can build playdates and other activities around.
You can also sneak things into their schedule to help them with future assignments. Sit down every night with your child and read an interactive book on your tablet. Create a scavenger hunt around your house with sentences that form a complete story. Anything that makes their reading and writing skills more entertaining will also make homework easier.
4. Teach Them Time Management Skills
Sit down with your kids when they attempt their first round of homework for the week. Ask them to list every assignment and break each one down into steps. It’s an excellent opportunity for them to strengthen their time management skills by estimating time slots for each stage of their homework. They’ll breeze through their study schedule and continue using this technique well into college.
5. Remove Any Distractions
There are plenty of distractions at home that tear kids away from their schoolwork. Their phones might buzz with notifications while a TV flickers temptingly in the background. Even if your child stays seated with their homework, the environment could take their mind away from what they need to learn.
It’s up to parents to remove external distractions while their children work on their homework. Take the initiative to create a quiet space and they’ll do much better when they sit down to study.
6. Monitor From a Distance
Keeping track of your child’s academic successes and challenges is crucial, but there should always be a healthy space between you two. Let them figure things out on their own when they can, but make it clear that they can always come to you for help. While you’re reading their progress reports, sending supplies to their classroom, and packing their lunches, they’ll find a helpful balance between independence and seeking help when they need it.
7. Demonstrate Your Problem Solving Skills
When you’re working through a math problem, your mind takes specific steps to solve it. Your brain also has a subconscious format for analyzing text. They’re intuitive skills you’ve honed with time, but your child may not have had enough time to wield them too.
As you’re tackling a homework assignment together, explain your problem-solving skills aloud. They’ll learn from you in the moment and walk away with a clear understanding of how to avoid the problem in another assignment.
8. Celebrate Their Successes
Everyone needs encouragement to positively reinforce their successes. Give your kid a high five or do a happy dance together at the end of every homework session. Encouragement takes kids a long way and builds their confidence before another academic challenge crosses their path.
9. Know When to Take Breaks
Kids with a strong sense of drive may push themselves too hard at home. Helping your child with homework might mean encouraging them to take five-minute breaks every once in a while. They’ll clear their head, release negative emotions, and return to their work with renewed energy. It’s something everyone needs to learn to be independently successful in everything from their education to their career.
10. Make Studying Fun
There are always ways to make homework more fun. Kids who groan at the thought of flipping through flashcards or memorizing vocabulary words should experience those activities in entertaining ways. Turn their assignments into songs, color flashcards together, or provide sticker rewards every time they finish their work.
Work Together on Assignments
Helping your child with homework might seem tricky, but these tips make it easy. You’ll provide the help they need without hindering their personal growth with time and practice.