How Much to Help and When to Back Off
By Mimi Greenwood Knight
Kids today are busier than ever. Between sports, dance, music lessons, after-school clubs, and any number of other activities, it can be tempting to kick homework to the curb. But the National Education Association says homework still serves a purpose. “Research indicates that children who spend more time on regularly assigned, meaningful homework, on average, do better in school.”
Classroom teachers use homework to:
• Help students understand and review the work that’s been covered in class
• Ascertain whether everyone understand a lesson
• Help students learn how to independently find and use more information on a subject
Homework also serves as a link between school and home, helping parents stay informed about what kids are studying. But how can we make sure our kids are getting all they should from the homework they do?
That depends upon your child’s grade level, learning style, and study habits. Younger students usually need more homework help than older ones. Some kids will need to be called “back to task” more than others. The trick is to guide your child toward independence.
The National Education Association offers these suggestions for helping your child with their homework—without helping too much.
• Schedule a regular time for homework each day.
• Provide a quiet, well-lit place to work where supplies are close at hand.
• Turn off TV and other distractions.
• Familiarize yourself with what regular homework will be assigned and when weekly tests are scheduled.
• Direct them toward appropriate resources, but don’t do research for them.
• Work on your own project nearby so they get the message that you’re there if they need you, but you have confidence they can do a good job themselves.
• Find out what resources are available to your child (such as a homework hotline, other classmates, and public libraries that offer help) and guide them in finding help when they need it.
One of the most helpful things you can do is demonstrate to your children that you think homework is important. Be supportive and provide help only when they ask for it.