Homework Help for Parents

by Laurie Laurendeau on March 11, 2010

The joy of homework… we love it, and we hate it. Most parents think their children should have homework, but why is it so often a struggle?  The most common complaints I hear from parents about homework are the following:

  1. It takes my child too long to do homework.
  2. I never know if I should help her, or let her figure it out on her own.
  3. I want to show my child a different method than she was taught at school, especially in Math.
  4. It’s always a battle with my child to get it done.

I’ll address each of the above concerns in a 4-part series on homework help for parents.  To ensure that you receive each story in the series, please subscribe to our RSS Feed.  Here is the first of four tips:

  1. It takes my child too long to do homework.
  • You first need to figure out if the school is assigning too much homework, or, if it’s the adequate amount of homework, but it’s taking your child longer than usual to complete it.
  • Keep track of how long it takes your child to complete her homework over a two-week period.  If you feel that it is excessive, discuss this with the teacher.
  • Ask the teacher what her expectations are around time spent doing homework.  If she tells you it should take the students 20 minutes to complete their homework each night, and it’s taking your child 45, be sure to tell her this.  Hopefully together you will get to the root of the problem.
  • Perhaps your child is struggling with the material.  If this is the case, ask the teacher if she has concerns about your child in this subject matter.  If she tells you that she has been struggling with it in class, ask if there is something that you can do to help her at home.  The teacher may have extra practice activities that you could do with her at home.  There may be a peer-helper that could assist her at school.  Or, if your child is really having difficulties, you may consider seeking out a qualified tutor in your area.
  • Your child may be distracted while doing her homework.  Be sure she has a designated, clutter-free space to do her homework each night.  Be sure it’s equipped with all the necessary tools such as pencils, erasers, rulers, dictionary, etc… to minimize time wasted on searching for the right tools.  If your child works better in a quiet space, perhaps sitting at the kitchen table while you prepare dinner is not the ideal place for her.
  • Sometimes, children take longer than expected to complete their homework because they may be hoping that if they sit long enough, you will swoop in and rescue them by giving them the answers.  If this becomes a pattern, this may indicate that your child is lacking the confidence to complete the work, even though she may be capable of completing it on her own.  Be sure to encourage her to try it on her own.  Ask her to complete 3 questions, and then you will check the work with her.  Slowly give her more questions to complete on her own before checking in on her.

If you feel that your child is not really struggling with homework, but is still spending too much time doing homework each night, it may very well be that she is being assigned too much of it. Ask the teacher if there is a Homework Policy at the school.  Many schools have a standard policy, such as 5 or 10 minutes per grade level.  Ex: A First-Grade student would do 5 or 10 minutes of homework each night, whereas a Fifth-Grade student might do 25-50 minutes of homework a night.  These timelines may or may not include reading time, which is usually assigned each night as well.

Read Part 2 in this homework help series…


  • Have questions or ideas about this story?
  • Need help or advice about your child’s learning?
  • Have ideas for future Parent Homework Help stories?

Go to “Leave a Reply” at the bottom of this page.  I’d love to help!

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