Schwab Foundation for Learning
Education and Kids
Helping Your Child With Homework
Helping With Homework: A Parent's Guide
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Research shows that when parents become involved in their children's schoolwork, the children do better in school. One
way you can get involved is by helping your child with homework. It will benefit both your child's school work and
One important aspect of helping your child with homework is to find out if the homework is appropriate. If your child is
reading or doing mathematics below grade level, the homework should reflect this fact.
Here are ten tips to help with homework:
- Keep in touch with the teacher or teachers to be fully aware of the quantity and the quality of the homework
- Set a schedule, including both a beginning and an ending time. Most kids need some time to unwind after
school before they tackle their homework. Doing it too close to bedtime may make it difficult due to fatigue.
Fridays are usually the best day for homework that must be completed over the weekend. Assignments are still
fresh in mind and last minute panic rushes are avoided.
- Encourage your child to divide the homework assignment into "What I can do myself" and "What I need help
with." You should help only with that part of the homework your child cannot do independently, such as using
flashcards, practicing spelling tests, and clarifying assignments. This builds responsibility and independence in
- Use "Grandma's Rule." Remember that Grandma is reputed to have said that there is no dessert until you are
finished with your spinach. Hold off on watching TV and other fun activities until homework is completed.
- Provide a home study center for your child with adequate light and few distractions. If your child concentrates
better with "white noise" (music), provide that help. Also, a dictionary, paper, pens, etc., should be readily
- Use direct praise for doing the homework and even more for accomplishment. "You've spelled 18 out of 20
words correctly--that's the best you've done this semester!"
- Be available when your child is doing homework, so that you can answer a question if there is confusion. If
possible, it is better for you to be in another room, so you are easily accessible and yet not a distraction.
- Look over the homework when it is completed. Do not correct it unless you have checked with the teacher.
Seeing the pattern of errors is often helpful to a teacher.
- Study groups are often a good strategy. Your child may benefit from studying with one or two classmates.
However, make sure they are using the time to study.
- Allow bathroom, drink, and/or snack breaks, but insist on completion of tasks.
A Reprint from the Parent Journal, Autumn 1994
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