Homework Help for Parents

5 tips to help your child succeed on homework assignments for school

A father and son work on homework together

Homework time can sometimes be stressful and aggravating for parents and students alike.

However, homework does teach fundamental skills such as organization, problem solving, time management and responsibility.

Help set your child up for success with these five tips:

1. Be a parent “helper,” not a “doer”

This can be a fine line to manage. It is tempting as a parent to get carried away and start doing your child’s homework, but your child must learn to succeed and manage the times when the job is not quite “perfect.” Parents who are always correcting and striving to get their child to do the perfect job will not be teaching their child the lessons of owning up to responsibility.

If your student is having difficulties, make up a similar problem and illustrate how to do it step-by-step. Then, observe your child solving one. Ask to see completed work to ensure that directions are being followed, but don’t try to correct every flaw.

Ask if there might be another way to write something or show the thought process behind a math problem, but don’t put words on paper or solve problems for your child. If you can’t figure out the problem yourself — junior high math may be long forgotten by many! — and your child is struggling, it may be time to ask the teacher for help.

The key is to provide guidance, not answers. Have your child identify what help is needed (for example, flashcards, practice for spelling tests) and what they can do on their own.

2. Schedule time for homework

Most children will do better if there is a set routine and expectations around homework. With many children engaged in other extracurricular activities, make sure there is enough time for homework and getting enough sleep. It may be helpful to review the week’s schedule on Sunday night and write it out with allotted time for homework.

3. Provide a quiet location for homework

Children need to have the TV and video distractions at a minimum when they are doing homework. If cell phone calls and/or texting are becoming a distraction, that may need to be removed during homework time. Calls and texts can be returned during a homework break or after the homework is done.

A good house rule is to set limits for the time spent watching TV or playing video games on school nights. Some families may limit their children to an hour or less of combined screen time on school nights while others may not allow any screen time.

4. Praise the efforts, not the end results

Children need to learn perseverance, and so praising their efforts in getting things done is important. Celebrate their success in completing projects and assignments. With large projects, teach them to complete their efforts in small chunks.

5. Discuss concerns with your child's teacher

If you see that your child is clearly struggling with concepts, it is time to talk to the teacher. Keeping in touch and handling concerns with the teacher will be more useful than battling with your child or doing your child’s work.