Help With Homework Without Becoming Too Involved
As a parent, it’s incredibly easy to get consumed with helping your child complete their homework. If you help too much, you might notice that you’re doing their homework for them and then you’ll end up backing off and refusing to assist them. But is that the best choice?
Instead of choosing the “all-or-nothing” approach when it comes to homework, read the 3 questions below on how to help with homework without becoming too involved.
What do I do when my daughter has a math question on her homework and I have no idea how to do it? The way that she is learning math is completely different than the way I learned. How should I direct her?
You’re absolutely right that the way kids are learning certain subjects is completely different than the way we were taught in school!
When your child is stuck, you have three options:
- First, you can say, “Let me show you how to do it. This is the way.” However, it’s likely that your child will say, “Mom, that’s not how Mrs. Smith does it,” and there may be an argument or two on how to do it correctly.
- You could also say, “You know what, honey? I already went to fourth grade. It’s your homework, not mine. You figure it out.” That’s probably not a great option either because your child won’t feel supported when they are frustrated with work.
- The third and best way to assist with homework struggles, is to ask, “Are there other examples like this one in your book or in your notes? Have you ever seen this type of question before?” By encouraging your child to look for examples or similar problems, she’ll be more likely to solve the problem on her own.
My 5th-grade son has a lot of projects that are assigned to him and he gets a three-week period to complete them. How can I, as a parent, not get too involved but also make sure he feels supported?
By nature, elementary students are going to need parental help in planning out long-term assignments. Their executive functioning skills aren’t developed enough for them to think ahead in two-to-three week increments. Even planning a week away is difficult for them!
When you know your child has a big project coming up, take a minute to sit down with him and ask, “What are the steps you’re going to need to do to complete this project?”
Open up a dialogue with him about what needs to be done to get it all finished. Let him come up with the steps for getting the project done. You can assist him, but don’t do it for him! Have him write down all the steps in his assignment notebook or the place where he keeps his daily tasks. That way, the big task is now divided into smaller, more manageable chunks, and the steps can then become part of the daily homework list.
How involved should I be when I review my daughter’s math homework and I see that there might be a wrong answer? Should I correct it or let her bring it to school with incorrect answers?
When your child starts a math assignment, it’s a great idea to make sure she understands the directions and watch her do the first few problems so she’s off to a good start and knows how to solve them. A parent’s job is to make sure a child’s homework is complete, but not to critique it for accuracy – that’s the teacher’s job.
If it’s every now and then and your child is receptive to help, asking her to fix one or two answers is fine, but often what happens is that parents get in a power struggle over making sure the entire assignment is correct. Again, because you just want to aim for completion, don’t worry about one or two answers being wrong. I would let it go and let her get feedback in class from her teacher and classmates.
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