How to Help Your Child With Homework

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Homework is a fact of life for most American school children. You already know that homework should be completed and turned in on time. You have already made sure that your child has a place to complete their homework, and they have a regularly scheduled time to work on it.  What else can you do to help ensure your child's success?

Show Your Interest In Your Child's Work. 

Asking questions like "What did you learn about in school?" and "How did you learn to do this homework assignment?" shows that you care about what your child is learning in school.

  It also helps your child learn the material by having them explain it to you. Explaining or teaching material to someone else actually creates a deeper knowledge connection. Offer to look over the assignment when completed, and be sure to tell your child what they did right.

Get A Homework Routine In Place

Kids with an established homework routine in place are far more likely to complete and turn in their homework. Sit down with your child and a copy of the teacher's homework policy. The policy should let you know how much time homework should take and approximately what kind of activities homework will consist of and approximately what kind of activities homework will consist of. Use this information to decide exactly when and where your child will do their homework.

Give Your Child The Opportunity To Succeed

It can be tempting to step in and start "helping" your child if you see them get frustrated or work slowly.

  Frustration is often a stage of the learning process.Think about what it is like for you to be presented with a brand new computer program that you have never used before. By stepping back and letting your child work through their frustration, they will learn the material in the homework, as well as how to learn new material in the future.

Give an early elementary school child at least a few minutes of time to figure it out on their own. A high school student may be able to tolerate as much as a full ten minutes before needing an explanation from you.

If you become concerned they may give up, try asking a question that will point them in the right direction.Often, elementary school children will skip the directions and then become confused.Simply checking to make sure they read the directions may solve the problem. 

Teach Them "Try Three Before Me" 

If your child continuously asks for help on their homework, encourage them to answer their own questions. Teach them to check three other resources before asking you. Examples of places your child can look is in the table of contents in their textbook, checking the glossary, a dictionary or encyclopedia, or even homework help websites. 

Never Do The Work For Them 

If you do the work for your child, you send the message that you believe your child cannot do it on their own. You also teach your child that you will do their work for them.

If you have tried the above tips already, you can still help your child in another way. Find a way to model the work without doing it. For example, if your child is struggling with a math problem, rather than doing the assigned problem for them, change the numbers in it and show your child how you would solve the new problem, step by step. This way you still give your child the opportunity to do the problem on their own.

If your child is struggling with a small part of the homework, it is often alright to let them ask how to do it at school  When your child asks for help in the classroom they learn that it is safe to ask for help outside of the safe parent-child relationship. It is also likely that other children in the class are struggling with the same problem. Your child's question will give the teacher the chance to show the whole class how to complete the homework.

Keep a Positive Attitude 

Researchers are finding that when children are punished or criticized when they struggle with work, the child will often shut down rather than feeling motivated. It is important to distinguish here between a child who doesn't think it is important to do the work at all and a child who is struggling. If your child already knows that your expectation is that they complete their homework, then taking a negative attitude will only make homework completion a battle. Let your child know that you are proud of them when they work hard and struggle with new material. 

If Big Problems Arise, Let The Teacher Know

There are times when a child may need extra help, and it is more important than the teacher is aware that your child is having an unusually hard time with  their homework. It could be that your child is struggling with an unidentified learning disability, or is missing an important skill from previous years.  f it takes your child much longer than usual to finish their homework, say, an hour for an assignment that would normally take ten minutes, talk to your child's teacher.  f your child comes home every night and has no idea how to do their homework for several days, even after reading the instructions, your child's teacher should know. 

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