Parent Helping With Homework

It's been ages since you've tackled an algebra assignment, and now your child is home with a backpack full of homework and needs some guidance. This time around, though, mastering multiplication problems seems harder than it used to be. If you don't feel fully equipped to help him through his study struggles, here are a few ways you or your partner can still pitch in -- without homework hour sounding like nails on a chalkboard.

Don't Fake It

Don't try to muddle through homework you don't understand. Pretending you're a geography guru will lead to mass confusion (we're pretty sure Orlando is not the capital of Florida). Instead, when you've reached a roadblock, send an e-mail to the teacher for clarification or touch base with her at drop-off and request extra resources on the topic. "Avoid trying to learn something quickly," says Neil McNerney, author of Homework: A Parent's Guide to Helping Out Without Freaking Out. "This has backfired on me numerous times because my kids can always tell." Attempting to wing it will probably confuse your child and distract her from her teacher's explanation.

Ask Professor Google

The marvels of modern technology can come in handy if a particular problem has you scratching your head. "Use the Internet," McNerney says. "There are amazing teaching tools online that can help with a homework issue." A quick search on the Internet can often provide the clarity you need or jar some basic academic concepts back to the forefront of your mind. There are also online forums (including subscription-based ones) dedicated to certain subjects that can help you brush up your skills. McNerney recommends The Khan Academy for math, and CyberSleuth Kids offers free study help for subjects including language arts and science.

Create a Homework Hotline

Don't hesitate to phone a friend -- take some time to identify the areas you don't excel in and create a roster of people you know who are adept in those subjects, such as your science-minded spouse and your history-buff neighbor, and who would be willing to help when you and your child are stumped. Ask your child to suggest contacts as well, so he'll feel comfortable reaching out for help when you can't support him. If his school has a class blog or online Listserv, have him note and create a list of kids in his class whom he can count on. Chances are, there is always someone who can help.

Consider using your social-media network to broaden your group of smarty-pants backups. A post on Facebook, Twitter, or other networking site may soon lead to your newsfeed being jam-packed with information on the Constitution or tips on how to craft a haiku.

Don't Mix Dinner and Diagrams

If you're attempting to make dinner while trying to master the order of the planets in the solar system, there is guaranteed to be a mix-up along the way. Doing everything plus a side of fractions is going to create a tense, distracted environment. "Getting frustrated and emotional in front of a child does not help the situation," says Joshua Langberg, Ph.D., a school psychologist and assistant professor of psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University. "This leads to arguments between the parent and child." Your ability to comprehend an assignment may be hindered if you don't read it properly. So before you stress about what you don't know, take a break and give it a second glance later on, when you can focus.

Invest in a Tutor

If your child is really struggling with homework and you aren't able to help him, consider finding and investing in a tutor. Dr. Langberg points out that the transition to middle school means heavier workloads and tougher assignments from multiple teachers, so as elementary school years come to an end, it may be a good time to enlist outside help.


If you’re the parent of a school-aged child, then it’s likely that you have encountered homework. It’s also likely that you have wondered about how much you should be helping.

While many parents have their opinions on this issue, it’s important to consider the pros and cons from the student’s point of view.

Should parents help with homework? The answer may not be so simple.

Parental involvement in homework

Studies show that children who spend more time on homework get better grades (on average) than those who spend less time. Parents who play an active role in homework are putting their kids in the best position to succeed.

Though expert opinions vary, most educators can agree that parents should help with homework to some degree. Your role as a parent is to reinforce the learning process happening when your child does his or her homework. This means keeping your child on task as well as providing motivation and guidance.

How much help is too much?

Where parents often go wrong is they can become too involved, helping more than needed. Providing answers or completing projects for your child  may end up hurting in the long run because it can prevent the child from developing an understanding of the subject.

By doing the work for your child, you aren’t empowering him or her to work toward learning goals. Students who get this type of help from their parents often end up getting lower grades because they don’t get the opportunity to learn the material. This causes them to perform poorly in the actual classroom. It can also set a poor precedent for success later in life.

Helping without hurting

Most studies are clear about limiting parental involvement to helping with organization, time management, and creating a positive learning environment. This means giving your child a place to work, limiting distractions, and providing supplies like pencils, pens, and paper. It also means guiding your child toward answers when he or she has questions – without answering it for him or her.

How should parents help with homework?

These tips will help keep you involved without doing your child’s homework yourself.

  1. Set a regular schedule for completing homework.
  2. Establish a dedicated homework space.
  3. Make sure this place has the supplies and resources the child may need.
  4. Provide guidance, but not answers.
  5. Help your child manage his or her time. Keep him or her on task.
  6. Keep the environment pressure free. Don’t tell your child to finish by dinnertime.
  7. Learn how your child learns. If he or she is a visual learner, use flashcards. For auditory learners, talk aloud about the topic.
  8. Encourage autonomy. Help your child learn to help themselves.

The key to helping without hurting is to provide direction and encouragement. The goal should always be to motivate your child to want to find the answers him or herself. This will help your child build the skills needed for success in the classroom – and beyond.

How Parents Can Help With Homework (Without Doing All The Work)

Jun 07, 2017•Homework

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