As a full-time 7th grade tutor in Massachusetts and later as a Social Work Intern at a K-8 school in Pennsylvania, I watched many students succeed and many others struggle. I noticed that many students shared one particular struggle: homework. Homework is an important piece of the learning process and often counts for a large part of a child’s grade in a class. With the help of several teachers, and through my own experience, I’ve compiled a list of six suggestions to help you and your child succeed with homework:
1. Know your child’s teachers.
Visit your child’s school. If you can’t, write the teachers a note. Ask your child about teachers and classes. Familiarize yourself with teachers’ expectations. The more you know about a class and a teacher, the more you can help your child with homework.
2. Help your child ask for help.
Many teachers are now accessible after school through email or by phone. Find out if your child’s teacher is reachable after school hours. Find out if your school has tutors or a homework hotline. Find this information out as soon as possible and don’t be afraid to use any and all forms of available communication to get help.
3. Have a homework time and spot.
Children today are dealing with many distractions when completing their homework. Try to find a quiet, uncluttered, preferably cell-phone-free place in your home for your child to work. Identify a specific homework time. Make the homework process a routine and stick to it.
4. Read the directions with them.
If helping your child, make sure to read the directions carefully. Make sure the directions are clear to you and to your child. If they aren’t, contact the teacher if possible. Encourage your child to make sure the directions are clear before leaving school for the day. Encourage your child to ask questions.
5. It is okay to let your child struggle a bit.
This may seem obvious, but don’t do your child’s homework for them. You may be tempted to give your child the answer, but remember the ultimate goal of the homework is to practice and hone skills. A little struggle is okay. If there is a lot of struggle, it probably means that your child would benefit from some extra help from a teacher or tutor.
6. Check your child’s homework every night.
This is my very best piece of advice and one that has been echoed by many teachers I have worked with and observed. Every night make sure your child’s homework is done by looking at it, not just asking them if it is. One parent I know had her child keep the homework out on the kitchen table every night so she could check it when she got home from work late at night. You don’t have to check if the answers are right. It doesn’t matter if you understand the topic. Just make sure it is done and complete. Then make sure it gets in your child’s backpack!