ISSUE: As we begin a new school year, many parents will struggle with the question of if and how they should help their children with homework. There is a fine line between helping our children succeed and doing their work for them. There are some guidelines that can help parents find that balance.
Q: Should parents help their children do their homework?
A: Parents should not do their children's homework for them, nor should they provide so much help that they may as well be doing the homework themselves. A parent's role is to encourage and supervise their child so the child can successfully complete the homework himself.
Q: What can parents do to help their children be successful with homework?
1. Establish a homework schedule: Pick a set time each day that is set aside for homework and then stick to that schedule. Depending on your child's other activities or your family's routine, the best time may be right after school or right after dinner. Do not schedule homework time right before bedtime. Your child will be least able to concentrate when tired, and if assignments take longer than expected the child will be up too late and lose important sleep time.
2. Provide a homework setting conducive to study: Provide a quiet, well-lit area for study that is free of distractions and family traffic. Make sure your child has sufficient workspace and all appropriate study supplies. Do not allow children to do their homework in front of the television.
3. Be a resource and a monitor: If your child is having difficulty and asks for help, try to find ways to help him figure out the problem himself. For example, maybe you can go back to an easier problem that involved the same principle, and help the child to see how to apply that principle to the new facts. Check to make sure your child completes all assigned homework and that nothing has been overlooked.
4. Communicate with the teacher: If your child consistently has difficulty with homework assignments, talk with the teacher. The teacher may have insights into the problem or suggestions for how you can best work with your child to help him succeed.
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