Homework Help for Parents – Part 2

by Laurie Laurendeau on March 14, 2010

Parents often ask me about how they can help their child struggle less with homework.  This is Part 2  in a 4-part series.  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 am addressing 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.  Part 1 was  “It takes my child too long to do it”.

Part 2:  I never know if I should help her, or let her figure it out on her own.

  • Be sure your child understands the directions for her homework.  Getting off to a wrong start can be very frustrating for many children.  For some children, answering the first few questions incorrectly can be enough of a mental block to shut down and not want to continue.
  • Once you think your child can begin on her own, let her do just that.  Be sure to tell her that you will come back and check on her in a certain amount of time, such as 10 minutes.  Many children need that emotional support; just knowing that Mom or Dad will be back to check on them is sometimes enough to make them relaxed enough to begin to tackle their homework on their own.
  • Tell her that if she gets stuck on a problem (ex. in Math) to circle it, and move on to the next question.  Tell her you will help her with any circled questions when you check on her.
  • If your child seems to be circling every question, then it is time to step in.  Ask her a few questions to assess how well she seems to understand the material.  If she gives you a blank look, try your best to explain it to her.
  • Try not to simply give her the answer.  I know this can sometimes be very tempting, because you both may be frustrated, and you want to get the homework done.  Remember that she will not learn anything from being given the answer. Give her enough information to get her started, and support her along the way.  Praise her when she is on the right track – she will need your kind words to boost her confidence!

Stay tuned for Part 3 of the Homework Help story!

If you have any homework tricks that have worked with your child or children, I would love to hear about them-please post a comment at the bottom of this page.  Thanks!

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