Teachers give homework for many reasons. They give it to see how well their students understood the lesson; to help them understand all that has been covered in class; to encourage them to learn more about the subject; and more. Homework is not and should not be considered as “busy work!”
There are several ways that parents can help their children with their homework. Here are some tips:
• Start the day out right– As adults, we all have differing views on starting the day with a nutritious breakfast. Sometimes, a cup of coffee and toast will suffice for us, but growing children and young developing minds still need to eat breakfast at the start of their day. Make sure that your children are both well fed and well-rested. They will retain more throughout the day, have a better day, and be better prepared to complete their homework at night.
• Study area– Have a comfortable, well-lit, neat area for your children to study. If space is limited in your home, dedicate a quiet space within a room that’s free from excess noises and distractions. The kitchen table will work, especially if you are preparing meals and are going to be in close proximity with your child. You can monitor, supervise and discussion school-related topics as well as homework assignments at hand. Do not let them study in front of the TV or with their smartphones, unless necessary for schoolwork.
• Educate yourself– If you continue to learn more (by taking classes, reading books, or even having your children teach you what they have learned, etc.), you will show the importance of education and the importance of continuing education. Show them that you care about education, and express your love of learning, to demonstrate that love and importance of continuous learning as a life-long journey.
• Be interested– Ask specific questions about your child’s day. Do not simply ask, “How was school?” Ask, “What did you learn today?” Say, “Tell me about the book you are reading.” “Show me how you solved that problem.” Show that you are interested and keep the dialogue going. Don’t stop asking or being interested because your child is a teenager in high school. Continue showing interest. It keeps the communication flowing, even as children indicate their desire for being ‘left alone’. Back away a little, but let them know that you are there for them when needed, and that you are always interested in their lives and learning progress at school.
• Difficult assignments– It is ok if you can not answer all of your children’s questions. It is OK if you do not remember trigonometry or any of the elements on the periodic table. You can still help your children by encouraging them and praising them, hiring a tutor, looking online, or asking the teacher for help. You and your child can learn together, and that, too, is a good thing!
• Study – Even if your child has no homework, encourage him or her to study every night. Set aside a regular study time
• Praise– Let your children know how well they have done. You do not need to give money as a reward for good grades or for completing their homework assignments. Instead, plan a fun activity or reward them in other ways. Effective praise can be just as effective as tangible rewards or gifts, if not more meaningful than reward systems. Praise, targeted towards specific behaviors, tasks should acknowledge the process and steps made towards goal attainment. It is the praise of the progress instead of the person, that encourages and reinforces your child’s intrinsic motivation to learn and do their best at all times.
• Follow-up– Ask to see homework that has already been graded. Find out how well your child is doing so that you can help when needed. Should you not understand the concepts or content, your being there lending your moral support, encouragement, and promoting a growth mindset will suffice. Also, it is times such as these when partnering with teachers places you in ideal positioning to learn right along with your child, and ask for tips and strategies from school that you may utilize at home.
• TV– Once again, turn off the TV, power down the game console, and disconnect from social media. Some students can study and learn quite well with background music, but the TV can be distracting. Video games are definitely off limits and inappropriate for completing homework assignments. While your child is studying, do not distract him or her by having the TV in the background (and certainly do not allow him or her to sit in front of it). Homework time is a good time for you to do your own “homework” – read, write letters, pay the bills, etc.
• Don’t do your children’s homework for them! You can help them by answering questions, but doing it will not help them in the long run. Help them do it themselves. The rewards are greater!