How much homework help should parents provide?
In his guide, The Parents' Public School Handbook, (Fireside, $12), schoolpsychologist and family counselor Dr. Kenneth Shores devotes Chapter 7 to "The Home Front." He writes that parents should srve as "homework coaches," but stop short at doing a child'shomework for him or her.
"The temptation to rescue a frustrated child from a difficult assignment can be hard for parents to resist. But parents need to fight off this impulse.
"If you consistently give your child answers or complete his assignement, he may learn less form the homework than from your response. He'll learn that he lacks competence to complete assignments on his own. He learns to distrust his own abilities and rely on others. Self-confidence wanes and dependency grows. In addition, the overly helpful parents may give the teacher a false picture of their child's strengths and weaknesses. As a result, the teacher may not provide the appropriate help."
Dr. Shore advises parents to use this line when approached by a homework-weary child, "Doing homework is your job. I'm available to help if you run into a problem or if you need me to check something, but you need to do as much as you can on your own."
He also suggest parents take note of their child's learning style (see related story on page 47 in this issue_, and be creative in problem-solving. If your child is easily distracted and inattentive, build study breaks into his homework routine, use a time so he works for 20 minutes and then takes a break (also times), and then returns to work.
Children who struggle inunderstanding directions may benefit from reading them out loud or having the directions read or restated to them. If your chld frustrates easily, help him take the assignment step by step and break it up into smaller, more do-able parts.
Enforce a "Homework Before Television" policy. In joint-custody situations, develop similar homework procedures at both homes. This will lessen your child's confusion and help foster consistent work habits.
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Setting the stage for Homework!
A message to parents: A very important part of being involved in your children’s education is helping them learn how to do their homework. Answer the following questions to determine if you’re doing the basic things needed to set the stage for hassle-free homework:
Your goal as parents is to have your kids take complete responsibility for handling their homework by the time they complete middle school. Answer these questions to determine how well your kids are handling this responsibility:
If you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, your family is handling homework in an effective way.