Homework Woes

Assisting students with assignments.

Homework is one of those areas where parents wish they knew best. They often feel confused about how and how much to help their children. Fortunately, some simple pointers offer parental guidance in navigating the challenges of homework and boosting kids toward academic success.

Establish a Routine

Routines are important for kids. However, the ideal routine differs depending on the student. Some kids fade in the evening and do better starting homework right after school. Other kids need to come home and decompress for a while before they can face their assignments. It doesn’t matter what time you choose, just make a conscious choice with your child for when to tackle homework and try to stick to it. It’s also a good idea to pick a place to do work. Some children prefer the kitchen table, such as to have a parent nearby. Others prefer the privacy of their bedrooms.

Map It

For the child who often forgets about projects or book reports, try keeping a blackboard or large calendar marked with due dates in a prominent place. Your child can use fun stickers or colored markers to keep track of assignments and learn how to manage time. The calendar also alerts you about upcoming deadlines, enabling you to encourage your child to start assignments in advance.

Realize How Much Help is Too Much

The purpose of homework is to reinforce concepts learned in school and to assist the teacher in assessing whether students understand those concepts. If you do the assignment for your child, the teacher assumes your child understands. Keeping this in mind, it is fine to offer your child tips to help him do the work himself. Sometimes a series of gentle questions lead your child to an answer. If your child isn’t getting it, try a different approach. Is your child a visual learner? Then try drawing a picture or diagram that communicates the idea. Is your child having trouble memorizing a poem or all the prepositions? Try putting either to a song. Make it fun!

Manage Frustration

Your job is to try to keep frustration at bay. You know your child’s tolerance level best. Some kids just want to get the work done; others need to break it up into smaller bits. If the latter is your child’s style, you might set a time limit and then encourage your child to take a break. Just ensure he starts assignments early enough to have time to take those breaks. If your child is getting overly frustrated and the hour is getting late, with your child’s permission, you can send a note that lets the teacher know that you recommended that the student stop the assignment. If your child still doesn’t understand the concept, include in your note that your child worked on the assignment for a sufficient amount of time but is not grasping the material. This is what the teacher needs to know.

Homework is about learning, and learning is a process. It takes time and effort. Provide lots of encouragement and celebrate the victories.

Tutoring

Tips for choosing outside assistance for homework troubles.

Traditional tutors and in-person tutoring centers are great options for students who have learning challenges or need in-depth, ongoing help and support. Your child’s teacher, the school or another parent may be able to recommend a tutor. You can expect to pay anywhere from $30-$150 an hour with traditional tutoring.

Online tutoring tends to be less personal but more readily available by offering children help with schoolwork around the clock. Online tutoring is generally a less expensive option than traditional tutoring.

If you’d like to try this resource, along with looking at tutor credentials and doing background checks, consider access to tutors. Tutor credentials detail his or her qualifications and training. Background checks help confirm whether a tutor is truly qualified, well trained and the right person to assist your child. Reputable online services do background checks for you, often using third parties to verify tutors’ credentials and conduct security reviews. Regarding access to tutors with online tutoring, it involves the hours of availability of tutoring. Some sites also allow you to review your child’s sessions and work to see how your child is progressing.