1. Set aside a specific time for homework every day. While you may have to be willing to adapt your schedule based on what’s going on in your day–after-school clubs, errands, and sports practices, for example–you also need to be consistent. Let your child know that homework happens on a specific schedule every day so that it remains a priority.
2. If your child is struggling with a specific subject, talk with their teacher. It may be that homework expectations haven’t been clarified (or that your child missed the discussion where they were). It’s much easier for your child to complete homework correctly when they know what the teacher wants! Sometimes, the difference between a pass and a fail is as simple as following instructions.
3. Make sure you have plenty of basic supplies on hand. Pencils, pens, and paper should always be kept stocked. If your child is in a project-based learning environment, make sure they have the tools on hand for those projects. You’ll find it’s much less stressful for both of you if you have all the materials you need right where you can find them rather than having to run out to grab project supplies every week.
4. Explain the concept rather than giving answers. Your child needs to be able to develop the critical thinking skills necessary to understand the concepts they’re being taught, not just given the correct answers. When possible, ask questions that will help lead them to the correct response instead of simply giving them answers.
5. Recognize signs of mental fatigue. A child who is struggling to complete an assignment they would normally have done in record time may simply be lazy or distracted. On the other hand, they may also be struggling with mental fatigue after a harder day at school than usual. Know the signs of mental fatigue and give your child a brain break when necessary.
6. Know your role. Some homework assignments are intended to encourage parental involvement: a young child’s assignment to read out loud, for example. Other assignments are intended to test a child’s knowledge and comprehension and should, when possible, be completed on their own. Big projects, for example, are almost always intended to be done primarily by the student in order to showcase their work. As the parent, that means you need to know what the expectation for your involvement is so that you do neither too much for nor too little with your student.
7. Know when to ask for help. If your child is struggling with a concept that you simply can’t explain to them, know when to take a step back and ask someone else for help. If you struggle with advanced math, trying to help your child with a calculus assignment may be futile! Instead, find someone who does know how to help or encourage your child to go to school early the next day to talk to their teacher.
8. Try to avoid insisting on “your way.” The strategies you learned in school might not be the same ones your child is using today. Mixing up the strategies may confuse them. If you don’t understand the method the teacher is using currently, ask your child to talk with someone who does when possible. It’s not that your method is wrong; it’s just that the two might not mix as well as you’d hope, especially if your child is already confused.
9. Practice time management. Some students do better when you leave the room instead of listening to them complain and procrastinate. Others will enjoy making a game of racing the clock. Older children with long homework lists might benefit from learning how to break it down so that they can get the harder pieces out of the way first. When you know what time management strategy works best for your child, help them implement it on a daily basis until it becomes part of the routine.
Whether you’re familiar with the tactics used by your child’s teachers or are finding that homework is a completely new game than it was when you were in school, helping your child with their homework and showing support for the school is key to your child’s academic success. Fortunately, you aren’t alone in your efforts! If you need more help with your child’s homework or you want a school where your child will be challenged to their full potential, contact us today to learn more about our programs.