Homework is a big part of education. It provides students with the skills to work independently, to time manage and to do their best work. Parents and guardians can make a big difference when it comes to helping kids with homework. That doesn’t mean you have to step into the role of a teacher either. Let’s look over how to effectively help kids with their homework and what to do if you notice homework problems.
Helping kids with homework
A parent or guardian’s role of support when it comes to helping with homework is not primarily that of a teacher. Students have class and notes to help teach them the subject matter. Their homework time is working on the subject on their own. You can provide guidance and answer questions to the best of your ability. Refrain from telling them any answers outright. Here are some additional ways you can provide support.
Create a routine. Set certain times for schoolwork. This way students know that it’s time to focus.
Get to know the teachers and their expectations. Attend events and ask questions. Attending parent-teacher conferences or other school events gives parents the chance to meet the teachers. Understand what they’re looking for to know what your student should be doing. If you have questions about this, you can also send teachers a quick email. The more you know their process the better you can guide a struggling student.
Create an effective homework space. Designate a location that’s just for homework. It should be well-lit, and near necessary supplies like paper and pencils.
Work with them to manage their workload and create an effective schedule. As homework becomes more prominent, their normal routine may not be enough. Work with them to create a plan and help them be able to do so on their own in the future.
Remove distractions. TVs should be turned off and electronics like phones and game systems should be put away until homework time has ended.
Provide assistance with organization. Learning to be organized comes with practice and guidance. If your student begins to struggle with keeping organized, work with them to see what could help. Providing some supplies like binders and planners could also be beneficial.
Be motivating. Homework and staying focused for extended periods can be difficult and irritating for some students. Be encouraging and motivating to help them through. Small snack breaks for some brain food can provide a quick reprieve when needed.
Make real-world associations. Show your student how their studies and skills are important for their future. For example, deadlines and expectations will follow them into their future career. And while presentations and public speaking assignments can be scary, they may need these skills too. And that they are skills that can indeed be mastered.
Be a good example. Kids can be largely encouraged by a good example. Need to balance the checkbook or handle some bills? Sit nearby during homework time to knock out some of these tasks. Kids won’t feel isolated or alone and will see how time to focus is needed for adults too.
Praise their effort and a job well done. After an intense homework or study session, congratulate them for making it through. Hang high-scoring tests on the refrigerator and share their achievements with family and friends to provide encouragement.
Monitor if there are problems. Keeping an eye on homework time can shed light on homework problems and let you know if there’s more that needs to be done.
As children get older their schoolwork will get more intense. Homework can pile up and big tests become more frequent. These instances can lead to overwhelmed students and additional problems. Here are some ways you can help.
Be there for them. Make yourself available for questions or intervene when you notice frustration. Breaks may be needed more often and should be facilitated before a student is consumed with frustration.
Help with organization and study skills. Organization and study skills are not often taught in schools. Parents can support their students by teaching them these principles.
Be in touch with teachers. If there’s a subject your child is struggling with, get in touch with the teacher for guidance. They may have additional resources to share or insights into helping your child succeed.
Encourage kids to use the resources they have. Teachers are often available before or after school to provide additional assistance if necessary. Find a way to get them this extra time by changing their pick-up or drop-off schedule. Some schools also have guidance counselors for instances where students are struggling to keep up with schoolwork and other school pressures.
Kids and teens will likely face challenges when it comes to schoolwork. Common struggles are difficult subjects or managing an increased workload. Be there to support them through these times. Tend to their needs, provide breaks, conduct conversations with teachers when needed and provide guidance. Creating an effective workspace, and teaching organization and time management skills can also help set them up for success.
Sources: Nemours, U.S Department of Education