9 Easy Homework Help Tips Every Parent Should Know
How can you as a parent establish healthy homework habits in your child, starting from a young age? We’ve compiled some tips and tricks for parents to keep in mind when helping their children with their regular assignments.
1. Designate a Quiet Study Space for Your Child
Setting aside a dedicated space for children to concentrate and work in can really help them focus on their homework assignments. This space should have all the supplies they need (pens, calculators, highlighters, etc.), have good lighting, and be comfortable for doing schoolwork.
Ideally, it should be an area with few distractions, so it should be away from areas where lots of people are coming and going.
2. Set a Schedule; Help With Time Management
Help your child establish a “homework time” so that he or she has a regular routine of doing homework, like right after school.
Setting time limits can be useful. Try not to spend more than 20 minutes working on an assignment. Any time spent longer than that results in greater frustration for you and your child, which will not be helpful. Instead, take a break, go outside for a walk, play a game, and have a mental reset before tackling the problem again.
However, if your child has larger assignments or projects, help him or her break them down into smaller pieces and develop a schedule for completing each piece.
3. Limit Tech and Media Exposure
Model for your child turning off the phone, social media, and the TV in order to maximize focus and productivity. It would be distracting for your child to indulge in those things when they can’t, so keep in mind what you are doing while they are doing homework.
Notifications and alerts can break concentration and focus, so it’s best to teach your child how to minimize distractions by just turning those things off.
4. Do Your "Homework" At The Same Time
While your child is working on homework, try to work on some of your own “homework” assignments, like balancing the checkbook, paying bills, finishing a take-home project from work, or simply reading quietly.
Modeling concentration-based tasks like this will help your child focus during homework time. This strategy is even more effective if you can tie your own “homework” to your child’s assignment, helping them see the real-world value of what they are learning.
5. Be An Adviser and a Consultant
Although some assignments do specifically call on students to enlist their parents, the point of homework in general is to provide practice for the student.
When your child comes to you with questions about an assignment, offer strategies to help guide them in the right direction, and model your thought process aloud. This is to help your child feel confident following the same steps independently.
Hold back on giving too much guidance, though, especially in situations where you know the answer but don’t understand the teacher’s directions yourself. For example, you may be given a math problem that you know how to solve, but you don’t understand the teacher’s methodology. In this case, it may be more helpful to coach your child to remember what the teacher said rather than showing your way of solving it. That may end up confusing your child even more.
Additionally, if you come across a homework problem that you can’t answer, it's okay to admit that you don't know how to solve it. Being able to admit to your child that you don't know is more helpful than trying to do the problem without knowing what's going on. Even acknowledging and empathizing with your child will help alleviate the stress they may feel from their homework.
6. Make a "Phone-a-Friend" List
Many children will experience confusion on the details of an assignment or mix up due dates at some point. When this happens, calling on a friend from class can be a lifesaver.
If your child doesn’t have friends to reach out to, help make a list of three or four classmates that he or she can call if ever a little clarification or reminder is needed.
7. Talk With Your Child's Teacher
Every teacher has his or her own philosophy and system regarding homework. Many educators have specific procedures about how homework should be completed and turned in, as well as their own incentive systems in place for students.
Connect with your child’s teachers, and ask them what their expectations are for homework and how they feel that you can best support your child. Being on the same page can help you see where your child may struggle and guide you in determining how to motivate and encourage them.
8. Hear Your Child Out
Everybody has tough days—things don’t go as planned, schedules fall behind, and events don’t go our way.
During those days, allow your child to vent and talk things out. Acknowledge these frustrations, and empathize with your child to help him or her understand his or her feelings. This will help your child feel validated, blow off some steam, and follow your suggestions more readily.
Once your child has had a chance to vent, encourage them to get started on the task and focus on what needs to get done. If your child continues to struggle, try the following:
- Write out the thought process. Perhaps you're working through the various steps to the process, but having a hard time getting to the right answer. Encourage your child to write out their thought process. Your child can then bring this work to their teacher to get feedback or more instruction on what they could've done differently to get to the right answer.
- Look at an example/sample problem. Typically, homework problems have some elements from an in-class sample, which you can utilize for solving their current homework assignment.
- It's okay to let your child suffer a little. In the end, don't get anxious or nervous about a homework problem your child can't tackle. Allowing your child to struggle through something will teach them perseverance, endurance, and grit. Teaching them to ask for help when needed is also a valuable life skill which they will need later in life.
9. Model a Positive Attitude
As a parent, you can model a positive attitude toward homework which can rub off on your child. Express your own interest in the subject of your child’s assignments, and be sure to talk about the role that homework plays in doing well in school, learning new things, retaining information, and gaining life skills.
Remind them that growth doesn’t happen without some struggle, but that they can always approach you for help if they need it.