How Much Should I Help My Child with Homework?

As parents, it can be hard to sit back and watch our kids struggle with a particularly tough homework assignment. But think carefully before you jump in to help. Sometimes kids need to learn lessons that have nothing to do with the subject matter at hand, and that’s when helping them with homework can backfire.

The Temptation to Over-Help

If you’ve ever felt the strong temptation to just do the assignment yourself or pay kids for good grades, you’re not alone. One  study found that nearly half of the parents surveyed paid their children for receiving good grades.

Despite your good intentions, this strategy can backfire. When kids are rewarded for every positive thing they accomplish (including good grades), that external motivation can replace their internal drive to learn, achieve and do good things on their own, Dr. Barbara Marinak, an assistant professor of education at Penn State University, said in an interview with National Public Radio (NPR).

What Kids Can Learn Through Homework Struggles

Kids learn valuable lessons from handling their own homework. Doing their own homework gives them a sense of responsibility and pride.

When you allow kids to struggle sometimes with their assignments, they learn when to ask for help and when they should find the answers on their own. They find ways to overcome difficulties and they develop their own reasons for doing their homework. These lessons will help them develop perseverance, a much-needed life skill.

If your child doesn’t do well on one assignment, don’t fret too much. Working through small failures on their own also helps them learn about their own strengths and weaknesses, how to improve and what it feels like to succeed on their own, according to the education foundation, Edutopia.

How to Help With Homework

It can be tough to know when to step in and help your child. Here are some tips on helping your child with homework.

  • Set the expectation that your child takes responsibility for his or her schoolwork. Tell him or her you expect them to do well in school and finish and turn in their homework. Remind them (and yourself) whose homework it really is.
  • Set and keep a schedule. Agree with your child on what time he or she will do their homework and stick with it. Having a routine will help your child stay on task.
  • Be sure your child has a quiet space to do homework, a planner and appropriate folders and notebooks for organizing homework.
  • Stay in contact with your child’s teacher. Go to parent-teacher conferences regularly and if you often see your child struggling with their homework, ask the teacher what you can do to help before stepping in.
  • As your child gets older, make sure to give them more independence. Don’t hover while they complete their assignments. Not being available right away helps him or her learn to figure out problems on their own.

For more tips, check out the U.S. Department of Education.

What are your tips for handling your child’s homework? Let us know in a comment below!

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