Last Updated on April 13, 2017 by Marie Bautista
Dinner is over, the dishes are done, and you can finally cozy up with a good book or a favorite TV show.
Unless you’re the parent of a tween or teen.
Evenings are when my two teenagers tackle hours of homework. And I’m right in there – checking math problems, finding good web sites, reviewing English vocabulary…
How did this happen?
The increased emphasis on standardized testing, K to 12 programs and other educational overhauls mean teachers can’t cover all the necessary material in a given school day. The result is the kids have to master a lot more on their own – and that means more homework.
Here’s how you can help.
Get them to use the computer
The internet is an amazing resources. There are lots of homework sites which offer reliable information for all grades. Most of the sites are interactive as well, making learning a breeze.
…but not unsupervised
Sometimes, kids don’t realize cutting and pasting from the Net is plagiarism. A friend told me about how she discovered that her son’s book report was lifted off the internet and how he denied copying it by explaining that he had typed it in himself word for word. To her son, copying meant using the Control + C keys on the keyboard!
And make sure online study time is used for homework. My girls sneak in Facebook chats with friends in between Google Searches. I had to be firm that they need to turn off chat, even when they insist that they are chatting with friends about homework.
(but not too involved)
Here are suggestions for different age groups:
Grades Three through six
- Give lots of feedback. Have your child solve problems or answer questions five or so at a time, then check the work. That way, you can spot errors that might otherwise cause her to do the entire assignment incorrectly.
- Zero in on good work first. With kids this age, it is especially important to point out what they did right. Often, they interpret corrections as disapproval on your part, and that can be discouraging.
- Don’t let homework drag on. If an assignment isn’t further along after an hour than it was after ten minutes, there’s something your child just isn’t getting. Call it quits and write a note to the teacher asking for a meeting.
Middle school and high school
- Help kids get organized. At this point, the workload will be anywhere from two to three hours a night, which may make it rough for kids to keep track of assignments. Many teachers are now posting homework online. So first thing, log on with your child and check what she’s supposed to be doing. Otherwise, review daily assignments as soon as your kids get home from school.
- Set priorities. Unlike grade school students, kids this age must deal with competing assignments from several teachers. You can help by ranking the work from easiest to hardest. Then encourage your child to tackle the easy jobs first. That may seem like strange advice, but making progress through a long to-do list can be a real stress believer.
- When it comes to big projects that can take several weeks, break them down into little pieces so they are less overwhelming. For example, have your child divide a term paper into sections. Each time he finishes a section, he can take a break.
- Foster independence. During the middle school years, you’ll still be involved. Even so, it’s time to encourage your child to work more on his own. And it’s time for you to check an assignment only when it is actually complete.
Find help when necessary.
Some kids are particularly reluctant to do homework – refusing to get started or insisting they have finished assignments when they haven’t. This may signal a more serious issue, perhaps even a learning problem. Yelling, punishing, or bribing rarely does any good. Instead, set up a conference with your child’s teacher. Together, you can come up with an action plan.
If your child is struggling with a particular subject or assignment, she may need extra instruction or fresh approach. Many schools have teachers or volunteers who offers free help before or after school. Often, older students who are especially skilled in an area will tutor youngsters for a reasonable fee.