Homework: How much should parents help?

As the school year begins, I’m reflecting on the role parents play in their student’s success.  What I’ve found from both counseling and teaching elementary and middle school parents is that there is a point, typically around 5th or 6th grade (but sometimes earlier or later) that parents decide that it’s time for their kid to do more on his or her own.

Before they reach this point, I’ve noticed again and again that parents often monitor all homework, help students study for all tests,  and give a ton of “help” on the assignments, even if it means staying up until all hours of the night to help complete them.  In many cases, this means doing them for their kids.

Rightfully so, parents tire of helping as much as they have.  So at the beginning of the year, they decide that they aren’t going to help anymore.  From that point on, kids are told that they’re responsible for doing everything on their own.  Parents stop asking about homework, tests, and larger assignments.

As much as I’m all for helping kids develop independence, it’s important for parents to consider how best to help children reach this point.  Perhaps you’ve sat by your child, ready to help, until homework is completed.  As an alternative, be nearby and willing to help, if asked.  Although I have mixed feelings about homework hotlines, I suggest you utilize them from time-to-time to check that your child’s assignments are being completed. Perhaps you’ve helped your child much more than comfortable completing larger assignments.  Instead, assist your children with developing time-management, so they aren’t hounding you for help at midnight, when the project is due in the a.m.  The same goes for tests.  Encourage your child to study on his/her own.  It’s normal to assist with practice and/or explanations, but again wait to be asked.

A good way to put it is this: instead of going from a helicopter parent to one who lets your child fly solo, get in the plane and help him/her navigate.

One Response to Homework: How much should parents help?
  1. London Counselling
    September 6, 2011 | 2:02 am

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