Homework Help for Reluctant Children

  • Posted October 15, 2018
  • By Heather Miller

mother and two daughters doing homework at kitchen table

It’s hard to fault the child who resists doing homework. After all, she has already put in a long day at school, probably been involved in afterschool activities, and, as the late afternoon spills into evening, now faces a pile of assignments. Parents feel it, too — it’s no one’s favorite time of day.

But despite its bad rap, homework plays an important role in ensuring that students can execute tasks independently. When it’s thoughtfully assigned, homework provides deeper engagement with material introduced in class. And even when it’s “just” worksheets, homework can build the automatic habits and the basic skills required to tackle more interesting endeavors. Finally, homework is a nightly test of grit. Adult life brings its share of tasks that are both compulsory and unenjoyable. Developing the discipline to fulfill our responsibilities, regardless of whether they thrill us, begins in middle childhood.

So how to help the avoidant child embrace the challenge, rather than resist it?

The first step, especially with kids 13 and under, is to have them do their homework at a communal space, like a dining room or kitchen table. If other children are in the home, they can all do their homework at the same table, and the parent can sit nearby to support the work effort. This alleviates some of the loneliness a reluctant child might associate with assignments. The alternative — doing homework at a bedroom desk — can result in the child guiltily avoiding the work for as long as possible. Like all forms of procrastination, this has the effect of making the entire process take much longer than it needs to.  

When parents turn the homework ritual into a series of conversations about what needs to be done, how, and for how long, children feel less “alone” with their nightly work, they relish the company and support of their parent, and they work better and more efficiently.

Many parents are under the impression that they shouldn’t have anything to do with their children's homework. This comes from schools emphasizing that homework is a child's responsibility, not the parents'. While it is absolutely true that parents should not do their children's homework, there is a role for parents — one that's perhaps best described as “homework project manager.” Parents can be monitoring, organizing, motivating, and praising the homework effort as it gets done. And yes, that means sitting with your child to help them stay focused and on task. Your presence sends the message that homework is important business, not to be taken lightly.

Once you’re sitting down with your child, ask him to unload his school bag and talk you through his various assignments. Maybe he has a school planner with all his homework listed, or a printout from school, or perhaps his work is listed on the classroom website. Many children attend an afterschool program where, in theory, they are doing homework. They’ll often claim that they’ve done all their homework, even though they’ve only done some. Together, make a quick and easy “Done/To Do” list. Writing down what she has finished will give her a sense of satisfaction. Identifying what she still needs to do will help her to focus on the remaining assignments. Over time, this practice will help your child build an understanding that large tasks are completed incrementally.

Next, ask your child to put the assignments in the order he’d like to do them. Encourage him to explain his thinking. Doing this helps a child feel in control of the evening’s tasks and prompts him to reflect on his work style. Discuss the first task of the night together. Ask your child to think about the supplies he is likely to need, and ensure they’re at the ready. This “pre-work” work helps a child think through a task, understand it, and prepare to execute it with gusto.

Last but not least, introduce a timer to the evening’s proceedings. Challenge your child to estimate how long the first assignment will take. Then ask, “Do you want me to set the timer for the full amount of time you think you’ll need, or a smaller amount?” Then, set the timer with the understanding that the child must work without interruption until the timer goes off. Even questions are verboten while the timer runs. The goal here is to enable the child to solve problems independently, through concentration. This not only builds concentration powers, it builds creativity, critical thinking, resilience, and resourcefulness. In my experience, the theatricality of being timed helps relax children who would otherwise feel daunted by a mountain of homework.

As each piece of work gets done, parents can add meaningful positive reinforcement. Exclaiming, “Another assignment done! And done well!” helps your child feel like what they are doing matters.

By turning the homework ritual into a series of conversations about what needs to be done, how, and for how long, children feel less “alone” with their nightly work, they relish the company and support of their parent, and they complete the work much more efficiently and at a higher standard than they might otherwise.

Helping the Homework Resisters

  • Have children do their work at a communal table. Stay nearby, to alleviate the loneliness that some kids feel — and to prevent procrastination.
  • Ask your child to unload her backpack and talk through assignments.
  • Help your child make a "Done/To Do" list.
  • Ask your child to put the assignments in the order he’d like to do them. Encourage him to explain his thinking — fostering a sense of control.
  • Use a timer. Challenge your child to estimate how long an assignment will take, and ask if she wants to set the timer for that full amount of time, or less. 
  • Your role: To monitor, organize, motivate, and praise the homework effort as each piece is done. 

Additional Resource

  • More about Heather Miller's work to help parents create healthy routines on weeknights

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The Value of Parents Helping with Homework

Dr. selena kiser.

  • September 2, 2020

Young girl and mom high-fiving while working on homework.

The importance of parents helping with homework is invaluable. Helping with homework is an important responsibility as a parent and directly supports the learning process. Parents’ experience and expertise is priceless. One of the best predictors of success in school is learning at home and being involved in children’s education. Parental involvement with homework helps develop self-confidence and motivation in the classroom. Parents helping students with homework has a multitude of benefits including spending individual time with children, enlightening strengths and weaknesses, making learning more meaningful, and having higher aspirations.

How Parental Involvement with Homework Impacts Students

Parental involvement with homework impacts students in a positive way. One of the most important reasons for parental involvement is that it helps alleviate stress and anxiety if the students are facing challenges with specific skills or topics. Parents have experience and expertise with a variety of subject matter and life experiences to help increase relevance. Parents help their children understand content and make it more meaningful, while also helping them understand things more clearly.

Also, their involvement increases skill and subject retention. Parents get into more depth about content and allow students to take skills to a greater level. Many children will always remember the times spent together working on homework or classroom projects. Parental involvement with homework and engagement in their child’s education are related to higher academic performance, better social skills and behavior, and increased self-confidence.

Parents helping with homework allows more time to expand upon subjects or skills since learning can be accelerated in the classroom. This is especially true in today’s classrooms. The curricula in many classrooms is enhanced and requires teaching a lot of content in a small amount of time. Homework is when parents and children can spend extra time on skills and subject matter. Parents provide relatable reasons for learning skills, and children retain information in greater depth.

Parental involvement increases creativity and induces critical-thinking skills in children. This creates a positive learning environment at home and transfers into the classroom setting. Parents have perspective on their children, and this allows them to support their weaknesses while expanding upon their strengths. The time together enlightens parents as to exactly what their child’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Virtual learning is now utilized nationwide, and parents are directly involved with their child’s schoolwork and homework. Their involvement is more vital now than ever. Fostering a positive homework environment is critical in virtual learning and assists children with technological and academic material.

Strategies for Including Parents in Homework

An essential strategy for including parents in homework is sharing a responsibility to help children meet educational goals. Parents’ commitment to prioritizing their child’s educational goals, and participating in homework supports a larger objective. Teachers and parents are specific about the goals and work directly with the child with classwork and homework. Teachers and parents collaboratively working together on children’s goals have larger and more long-lasting success. This also allows parents to be strategic with homework assistance.

A few other great examples of how to involve parents in homework are conducting experiments, assignments, or project-based learning activities that parents play an active role in. Interviewing parents is a fantastic way to be directly involved in homework and allows the project to be enjoyable. Parents are honored to be interviewed, and these activities create a bond between parents and children. Students will remember these assignments for the rest of their lives.

Project-based learning activities examples are family tree projects, leaf collections, research papers, and a myriad of other hands-on learning assignments. Children love working with their parents on these assignments as they are enjoyable and fun. This type of learning and engagement also fosters other interests. Conducting research is another way parents directly impact their child’s homework. This can be a subject the child is interested in or something they are unfamiliar with. Children and parents look forward to these types of homework activities.

Parents helping students with homework has a multitude of benefits. Parental involvement and engagement have lifelong benefits and creates a pathway for success. Parents provide autonomy and support, while modeling successful homework study habits.

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Hey, Parents of K–5 Kids: Hands Off the Homework!

If they don’t ask for help, you don’t need to offer..

The beginning of a new school year can be stressful for kids and parents alike. But one thing parents of elementary-school kids shouldn’t have to stress over is supervising homework daily, because we now have evidence that such supervision actually may not have a positive impact on children’s academic achievement.

While there is an ongoing debate among educators whether homework is generally beneficial in elementary school, in my view, it depends on the nature of the work assigned. Developmentally appropriate homework on relevant material that can be done by the child independently (without need of adult supervision) is, I think, contributing to formation of habits that will serve the child well as they move through their education journey. The “10 minutes per grade” rule seems like a reasonable practice (so that a second grader, for example, might be asked to read for 20 minutes a day).

That question of “adult supervision” is where my new research comes in. We know parental help with homework has been long hailed by educators and policymakers as an effective mechanism to help children succeed, but having studied parenting practices as a sociologist of education and childhood for over two decades, I questioned whether data actually supported this widely held claim. As it turns out, my recent research, conducted at Penn State, suggests that parents could be wasting their time.

My study, using two nationally representative datasets that each tracked about 20,000 kids from kindergarten through fifth grade, showed no benefits of parental help with homework. In other words, we found no statistically significant association between parental help with homework, as measured by level of intensity (from everyday help, to less than once a week) and self-reported during parent interviews at each wave of data collection, and subsequent math and reading achievement. While my research cannot prove the mechanisms by which potential benefits of parental help with homework for this age group are outweighed, my team and I suggested three possible explanations: cognitive loss, adverse effects on home emotional climate, and deferred responsibility.

Under pressure to get homework completed, parents might think they’re helping their kids by offering the correct answers. Research by others, however, suggests that this practice deprives students of the main purpose of homework—to sharpen problem-solving and other skills. This parental intervention may also mask a child’s skills or knowledge gap that would have otherwise been discovered by a teacher.

The daily involvement of parents with a child’s homework has also been associated with a negative effect on the emotional climate of the family. Parents can be more critical than teachers, or they may apply too much pressure, or create an overall stressful situation by being too controlling and intrusive. That kind of parental behavior has been linked in other research to lower academic achievement, whereas supportive involvement has a positive effect.

Parents constantly checking a child’s homework for completion and accuracy may also send a message to the child that the responsibility of finishing homework falls on their parents, and not themselves. Developing a sense of responsibility for completing a task is an important behavior that a child can cultivate through homework.

I’m not suggesting that parents shouldn’t be involved at all in their children’s homework. Parents can enhance their children’s learning experience at home by providing a living space conducive to learning (a quiet atmosphere, free from distractions), and conveying a clear message about the importance of education—this is what other researchers have labeled “ stage setting ”. And it’s important for the child to know that if they really struggle, there is an adult who can help. But the help shouldn’t be provided automatically or imposed.

Parents can also redirect the time they would have spent fighting with kids over homework into more beneficial activities that boost kids’ emotional development, which has been shown to positively impact their future academic success, such as calm and positive conversations about school and their friends, what they enjoy in classes, and their academic goals. When parents develop warm, close relationships with their children, conveying the importance of doing well in school becomes a natural part of conversation, without being perceived as putting pressure on the child or “lecturing.”

Parental support is crucially important for children’s developing sense of self, as well as building their confidence to achieve various goals. Equally effective is encouraging your child to put forward their best effort, as opposed to achieving a certain defined outcome, such as being a straight A student.

Parents are misplacing their energy when they help their kids with homework. My research, which controls for the variety of family and parental characteristics, including income and education level of the parent, family structure and the child’s achievement, challenges widely accepted guidance , including some from the U.S. Department of Education, that promotes homework as “an opportunity for families to be involved in their children’s education.” I think it may, instead, be causing unnecessary stress to kids and parents alike.

As your elementary-aged children bring their homework home with them this fall, resist the temptation to get too involved. Allow them space to struggle and work through problems on their own, even if that means they won’t always come to the correct conclusions. Taking a small hit on an insignificant assignment now may set your child up for even greater success in the future.

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How Parents Can Help With Homework (Without Taking Over)

Sometimes taking the stress out of homework means taking a step back. learn how to curb your hands-on habits and help your kids do their best..

After a long day at school, the last thing my kids want to do is tackle their assignments. And after a long day at work, arguing with them about homework is the last thing my husband and I want to do. But we’ve always thought that the more involved we were, the better off they’d be.

It turns out that that isn’t necessarily true: After looking at 30 years’ worth of studies, researchers concluded that in most cases, such parental interest actually doesn’t help raise test scores or grades — and sometimes backfires. The reason: When parents are overly immersed in homework, they deny kids the chance to become more independent and confident. Worse, it can breed anxiety along the way.

Of course, backing off is easier said than done. So we asked education pros to share their secrets for helping kids study without hovering. Use these techniques to bring peace to your evenings — starting tonight!

Old way:  Sit beside your child so you can answer questions and fix his mistakes. New way:  Stay available by doing chores nearby.

When you hover, you essentially send the message to your kid that you don’t think he can do the work. To empower him instead, stay busy and wait until he asks for your help, says Miriam Liss, Ph.D., author of Balancing the Big Stuff: Finding Happiness in Work, Family, and Life.

For example, say your child is stumped by a math problem. You could ask questions (“So how many groups of two equal eight?”). If he says, “Got it,” leave him alone. If he continues to struggle, make suggestions (“Hey, do you want to use baby carrots as manipulatives?”). He’ll feel a greater sense of accomplishment if he’s worked for the answer mostly on his own.

Also avoid stepping in to correct every mistake without your child’s input. “Homework is a chance for a child to practice what he’s learned in class,” explains Jacqueline Cross, a fourth-grade teacher in Hingham, MA. “If he’s really challenged by long division, I’d like to know that so I can help.”

If your child asks you to look over his worksheet, point out the errors in a subtle way. Say, “Can you go back and see where you went wrong here?” or even do a quick reminder of the point of the exercise (“Remember, you’re supposed to be finding coins that add up to four dollars. Want to count these numbers out loud and I’ll listen?”).

Old way:  Nag until your child starts working. New way:  Set up a no-nonsense routine.

“Make it clear that everyone has obligations — and your child’s include things like going to school, working with her teacher, and doing the best she can on her homework,” says Susan Kuczmarski, Ed.D, author of The Sacred Flight of the Teenager: A Parent’s Guide to Stepping Back and Letting Go.

Doing her best includes buckling down to finish her assignments without constant check-ins from you. Together, figure out a specific time and place for her to work. It’s okay if she needs a little while to recharge after school before starting, but be sure she knows that four o’clock (or whatever time is best for your fam) is non-negotiable.

Once you’ve established a firm homework routine, make it a habit that happens every day. “Kids can whine, but they just won’t get to watch their TV show or whatever else they’d like to do until the homework is done. Period,” says Dr. Liss. (There goes your need to nag!)

And if your kid doesn’t do an assignment because you failed to remind her? As tough as it is, let her deal with the consequences. You won’t always be around to stay on top of her, and learning responsibility is a cornerstone of education.

Old way:  Lecture your kid for waiting until the night before to study for the spelling test. New way:  Teach time-management skills.

Scolding just makes your child feel bad (and he’ll tune you out, anyway). But because kids appreciate structure, teach yours how to break tasks up into more manageable chunks.

A printed calendar is a great tool for learning how to map out deadlines and a better visual reminder for grade-schoolers than the digital kind. Hang it in a prominent place. Then help your kid set daily goals, like “study four words on Monday and five on Tuesday …,” or break that science project into weekly goals, like “gather resources by the 5th, plant the seeds on the 11th.”

By giving your child control over deadlines, you remove yourself from the battle: If it’s on the calendar, he’s responsible for it. Skip handing out negative consequences for not getting things done. Instead, says Dr. Liss, you can offer him rewards for hitting each of the milestones.

Old way:  Get sucked into whine fests. New way:  Walk away.

If your child gripes about the work itself (“It’s too hard!” or “I don’t get it!”), figure out what’s behind her frustration. If it’s a lack of motivation, let her know that the sooner she applies herself, the sooner it’ll get done and the faster she can move on to something more fun. Then leave the room. After all, without an audience, she can’t complain, and you avoid getting trapped in a negative cycle.

But if the material is too difficult, that’s another story. In that case, try your hand at doing some of the problems with her (as long as you can stay calm). You may be able to make that lightbulb turn on in her head.

If not, reach out to the teacher to ask for assistance (or, if your child is over 8, suggest she speak with the teacher herself). Educators don’t want their students struggling to the point of tears, so your child’s teacher will probably be happy to clue you in to extra resources that can help your kid understand the lesson.

Old way:  Work on your kid’s project until the end product is perfect. New way:  Let your child take the lead.

“We assign projects so kids get a chance to apply new skills they’ve learned,” Cross explains. So if you’re getting super hands-on to wow the teacher, do your best to resist the urge. “We see your child every day, so we’re pretty familiar with the kind of work she does!” Cross adds.

That doesn’t mean you can’t pitch in, but let your kid be the creative force. For example, if you notice that the assignment includes a timeline and your grade-schooler skipped that step, point it out, then let her figure out which dates to include and how best to showcase them. After all, brainstorming lets your child hone her problem-solving skills and increases her confidence; hand-feeding her a solution won’t teach her anything.

When your kiddo proudly shows you the finished product, tell her something specific, like “Your report really makes me want to read that book now!” or “Wow, look at all the details you included in that flower diagram!” By saying something descriptive instead of generic (“That poster you made looks really awesome!”), you’re acknowledging the content itself and the effort your child put into it rather than just how it looks, notes Dr. Kuczmarski.

Achieving balance is key — and that’s true for all homework conundrums. Says Dr. Liss: “Your goal is to find that sweet spot of being there if your kids need you, but not being totally on top of them all the time.”

Plus: 10 Homework Help Tips The Do's and Don'ts of Homework Help

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Helping Your Gradeschooler With Homework

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During grade school, kids start getting homework for the first time to reinforce and extend classroom learning and help them practice important study skills.

By doing homework, kids learn how to:

  • read and follow directions independently
  • manage and budget time (for long-term assignments like book reports)
  • complete work neatly and to the best of their ability

It also helps them develop a sense of responsibility, pride in a job well done, and a work ethic that will benefit them well beyond the classroom.

Parents can give kids lots of homework help, primarily by making homework a priority and helping them develop good study habits.

Setting Up Shop

The kitchen or dining room table is a popular workspace for younger children; they may feel more comfortable being near you, and you can provide encouragement and assistance. Older kids might prefer to retreat to their rooms, but check in periodically and review the homework when it's completed.

Wherever kids do homework, it's important to make sure their workspace is:

  • comfortable
  • stocked with school supplies (pens, pencils, paper, stapler, calculator, ruler, etc.) and references (dictionary, thesaurus)
  • quiet and free from distractions — TV, video games, phone calls, or other family members

If kids need a computer for schoolwork, try to set it up in a common space, not in a bedroom, so you can discourage playing video games, chatting with or emailing friends, or surfing the Internet for fun during study time. Also consider parental controls , available through your Internet service provider (ISP), and software that blocks and filters any inappropriate material. Find out which sites your kids' teachers recommend and bookmark them for easy access.

A Parent's Supporting Role

When it comes to homework, be there to offer support and guidance, answer questions, help interpret assignment instructions, and review the completed work. But resist the urge to provide the right answers or complete assignments.

Focus on helping kids develop the problem-solving skills they'll need to get through this assignment and any others, and offer your encouragement as they do. They'll develop confidence and a love of learning from doing it themselves.

Here are more tips to help make homework easier for kids:

  • Establish a routine. Send the message that schoolwork is a top priority with ground rules like setting a regular time and place each day for homework to be done. And make it clear that there's no TV, phone calls, video game-playing, etc., until homework is done and checked.
  • Strategize for homework sessions. Teach kids to take stock of how much homework there is and what it involves so they can create a strategy that fits their workloads and temperaments. Some kids might want to tackle the harder assignments first — when mental energy levels are highest — while others prefer to get the easier tasks over with. By helping them approach homework with a strategy when they're young, you'll teach your kids to do that independently later. Allow them to take a break if needed, then guide them back to the homework with fresh focus and energy.
  • Instill organization skills. No one is born with great organizational skills — they're learned and practiced over time. Most kids first encounter multiple teachers and classrooms in middle school, when organization becomes a key to succeeding. Teach your child how to use a calendar or personal planner to help get organized.
  • Apply school to the "real world." Talk about how what they're learning now applies outside the classroom, such as the importance of meeting deadlines — just like adults in the work world — or how the topics in history class relate to what's happening in today's news.

Homework Problems

Especially as kids get older, homework can really start to add up and become harder to manage. These strategies can help:

  • Be there. You don't have to hover at homework time, but be around in case you're needed. If your son is frazzled by math problems he's been trying to solve for hours, for instance, suggest he take a break, maybe by shooting some hoops with you. A fresh mind may be all he needed, but when it's time to return to homework, ask how you can help.
  • Be in touch with teachers. Keep in good contact with the teachers throughout the school year to stay aware of your child's progress, especially if your child is struggling. Don't miss parent-teacher conferences and maintain an ongoing dialogue. Teachers can tell you what happens in the classroom and how to help your child succeed. You also can ask to be kept in the loop about quizzes, tests, and projects.
  • Don't forget the study skills. Study skills often aren't stressed in schools. When you're helping your child study for a test, suggest some effective study strategies, such as using flashcards, or taking notes and underlining while reading.
  • Encourage kids to reach out. Most teachers are available for extra help before or after school, and also might be able to recommend other resources. So encourage kids to ask for help, if needed, but remember that in school kids are rewarded for knowing the right answers, and no one likes to stand out by saying that they don't have them. Praise your kids for their hard work and effort.

Don't wait for report cards to find out that there are problems at school. The sooner you intervene, the sooner you can help your child get back on track.

When Kids Struggle With Homework

Consistent complaints about homework or ongoing struggles with assignments could indicate a problem.

In some cases, kids simply need to learn and practice better study habits. Be sure your kids are writing down assignments correctly and encourage them to keep a daily homework notebook, which can help both kids and parents know exactly what assignments are due and when. If a particular assignment is giving your child more trouble than others, send a note to the teacher pointing out the difficulties.

But when a kid consistently has a hard time understanding or completing homework, broader issues (such as learning disabilities, ADHD, or vision or hearing difficulties) might be interfering with academic progress.

By reviewing homework with your child and talking to your child's teacher, you can identify any learning problems and tackle them early on.

Laying the Foundation

The key to truly helping kids with homework is to know when to step in. Make sure your kids know that you're available if there's a snag, but that it's important to work independently. Encourage effort and determination — not just the grades they get.

Be a good example by showing your own love of learning. While your child does homework, do your own — read books, magazines, and newspapers; write letters, lists, and emails; use math skills to calculate expenses or balance the checkbook. By showing that learning remains important — even fun — once school's over, you'll help your kids understand that building knowledge is something to enjoy throughout life.

How Parents Can Offer Homework Help

Homework can be daunting in any household, but there are many places to turn for help.

Family at home during covid-19 isolation

Parents should create a routine in which they ask their children daily about the homework assignments they have, when they plan to do their homework, and what help they might need. (Getty Images)

Getting kids to do their homework can be a battle of wills, and many parents can attest to the frustrations that come with helping children complete assignments. But education experts say there is plenty of homework help available for both parents and students.

While some educators and researchers have questioned the value of homework and its ability to improve academic outcomes, it is still a part of life in most schools, and experts say it helps teach children executive function skills, such as planning and completing assigned tasks.

“Homework should be about practicing content,” says Audrey Dolginoff, a special education teacher based in Washington, D.C., who has taught middle school students at both public and private schools.

“But it’s also about structuring your time to plan for the next day, making sure you have all your materials and ensuring you are looking ahead in the calendar as you get older in school,” she says. “All of these skills tie into being a functioning member of society later on.”

Whatever the subject, education experts say there is much parents can do to help their children with homework, whether it’s directly or by providing resources.

The Right Environment for Homework

Making homework a smoother experience starts by providing a dedicated space for children to focus on their studies. Create a clean space that is relatively free of distractions – including TVs, phones and other devices – and provides ready access to the materials and technology needed to complete homework.

That might include a computer, a comfortable chair, a calculator, a stapler, paper, pens, pencils, erasers, crayons, markers and anything else that facilitates schoolwork.

“Giving them a special, well-equipped study space is a good foundation for quality accomplishments,” says Cindy McKinley Alder, a veteran elementary school teacher in Michigan and co-author of the book “10 Quick Homework Tips.”

Education experts recommend that children with homework in multiple subjects use a calendar or planner. This tool can be a physical book or binder or a digital app such as MyHomework , My Study Life or Trello .

Parents can help children plan their homework assignments, Dolginoff says, which is a great way of “showing interest before there’s a problem.” She says parents should create a routine in which they ask their children daily about the homework assignments they have, when they plan to do their homework, and what help they might need.

Getting Homework Help at School

Educators say teachers are the first people struggling students and their parents should go to for help. Teachers often have office hours or dedicated time during the school day for students to drop by to ask questions.

“Sometimes just asking a teacher how they can improve can be so helpful because the instructor can point out weaknesses they’ve noticed,” says Laurie Kopp Weingarten, a certified educational planner and independent educational consultant in New Jersey. Teachers may be able to point students to study materials they should be using, such as class notes or other resources, Weingarten says.

Some schools may also have homework clubs or students who provide free tutoring in certain subjects.

How to Hire a Tutor

When parents feel they are out of their depth on a subject or just realize their child may need some more specialized instruction, outside tutoring services may be the answer.

Before hiring a tutor, a parent should check in with teachers to find out “how the parent can best support the child at school or what interventions can be put in place in the classroom to help the child access the content,” Dolginoff says.

Brian Galvin, chief academic officer at Varsity Tutors , says parents should hire a tutor if their child has “hit a roadblock or slowed their advancement.”

“Learning can look a lot like a Jenga tower, where a student can feel completely overwhelmed and unmoored in a higher-grade topic like algebra, and the entire cause is a missing building block or two a few levels down in something like understanding factors and divisibility,” he says.

Galvin says a tutor can help a student relearn those missing blocks, in addition to working on the current curriculum.

There are several national tutoring chains that offer in-person and virtual tutoring, including Sylvan , Mathnasium and Kumon . But parents may also benefit from exploring locally based tutoring services or finding local teachers who work as tutors.

Online Resources for Homework Help

There are a plethora of online resources purporting to help kids with their homework and practice skills they are learning in school, and many are free or offer low subscription rates. But determining which apps will be most helpful can be daunting.

Common Sense , a nonprofit that independently reviews online media and content for children, has information on educational apps that can help parents determine what kinds of online homework might be the most beneficial. Teachers are often a good source to ask about what online sites or apps might be most helpful for the curriculum they are teaching.

For parents who want to do some research, here are several sites and apps recommended by educators:

  • Math is Fun has tutorials and practice questions for math, including basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry and even physics.
  • Summerbell helps children with reading difficulties access books and reading in new ways.
  • Khan Academy is a nonprofit site that offers practice exercises, instructional videos and a dashboard for students studying multiple subjects.
  • Learning Ally provides audiobooks for students who have learning differences or difficulty reading.
  • IXL is a personalized learning site used by both parents and schools, with a K-12 curriculum and real-time analytics.

Parents should be careful that online services they hire are not offering to write student papers or provide answers to the questions in textbooks.

“Unfortunately, many of those who claim to provide tutoring services actually sell cheating,” says Derek Newton, author of a newsletter on academic integrity and cheating called The Cheat Sheet. “To avoid cheating traps and get actual tutoring help, start by asking the school or teachers for a recommendation.”

Searching for a school? Explore our K-12 directory .

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10 Top Homework Tips for Parents

In this empowering article, we present a comprehensive guide to help parents become active partners in their child's academic journey. Homework plays a vital role in reinforcing learning, promoting responsibility, and building valuable study habits. However, it can also be a source of stress and frustration for both children and parents.

Discover a wealth of practical homework tips, strategies, and best practices that will transform homework time into a positive and productive experience. From fostering a conducive study environment to establishing a consistent routine, we explore how parents can create a supportive atmosphere that encourages their child's academic growth.

Explore effective communication techniques that bridge the gap between parents and teachers, ensuring that parents are well-informed about assignments and can offer timely assistance when needed. Uncover the importance of setting realistic expectations, acknowledging the uniqueness of each child's learning style, and avoiding undue pressure.

We'll also delve into the art of motivation and encouragement, understanding the delicate balance between supporting independence and providing guidance. Learn how to turn homework into a collaborative effort, where parents act as mentors, helping their children navigate challenges and celebrate achievements.

Incorporating insights from education experts and experienced parents, this article serves as a valuable resource for parents seeking to be proactive advocates for their child's academic success. Whether you have a kindergartener or a high schooler, these homework tips will empower you to create a positive learning environment at home and foster a lifelong love for learning in your child. Embrace this opportunity to strengthen the parent-child bond through shared educational experiences, paving the way for a brighter and more rewarding academic future.

Whether your child is in elementary, middle, or high school, every child will eventually need clear and consistent help with their homework. As homework can directly impact a child’s success in the classroom and his or her overall educational development, a parent’s involvement provides a child with encouragement, support, and direction. By using positive steps proven to boost student performance, parents can intervene before a child’s struggles with homework begin to surface.

The Importance of Homework in Cognitive Development

While children often perceive homework as a form of punishment from their teacher, practicing classroom skills at home is an integral part of the developmental process. As Nucleus Learning explains, homework serves a myriad of essential purposes for both instruction and reinforcement. Most fundamentally, homework allows students to practice skills learned in school with autonomous engagement outside the classroom. As there is a limited amount of time in each school day, children are forced to accept the educational contract that they must put in the effort both in and outside of school to master all of the required material.

Adding to this, homework allows students to “Investigate on their own, learn how to find answers to questions, show that the teacher does not have an answer to everything.” Homework allows a student to more thoroughly learn and understand the material instructed; furthermore, actively engaging in homework teaches students how to become advocates for their own learning, as they can engage in an inquiry-based process of asking questions and seeking out more answers and discoveries.

Further expounding on the importance of homework, Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, the educational author of Kids, Parents and Power Struggles , asserts that parents play an immense role in a child’s successful engagement and completion of homework assignments. As she explains, “What most people don't realize is how much support their kids need with homework… It isn't something where you can just say, 'He's 10 or 12 or 15, he should just do it.’’”

Instead, a parent’s foundational support in helping their children understand and practice homework sets the child up for the scaffold of evolving responsibilities. If a child fails to acknowledge his or her responsibilities with completing mandated assignments from their teacher, the child may be heading down a dangerous path of irresponsibility, which can later impact a child’s ability to thrive in their first job or professional realms of life.

The Top Ten Homework Tips for Parents

1. Establish a Routine

The first step in creating a positive homework pathway for your child is primarily creating a routine. This may mean that parents may have to compromise with their children on the working conditions for homework time. As The Seattle Times further explicates, “That means helping students designate a set time and place where they can comfortably — and routinely — hit the books without being disturbed. Some families keep the TV off on weeknights and tape favorite shows for weekend watching. Following such a rule consistently, Kurcinka says, may avoid parent-child power struggles.” Adding to this, if a child is comfortable independently working in his or her bedroom, then parents may need to allow this freedom and choice of the child; however, if a child’s homework is incomplete or if their grades drop, then parents should immediately step in and enforce a different homework strategy and routine.

2. Create Boundaries

As the homework routine is clearly outlined and consistently enforced, parents should simultaneously create clear boundaries for their children as well. This may entail that a teenager’s cell phone must be turned off during homework time or a child’s television or radio must be off until assignments are complete.

3. Get Organized

For younger children, a parent may need to create a homework calendar that both the parent and the child can clearly access and see. This may help a child learn how to plan ahead and create a schedule for long-term elementary and middle school projects. For high school kids, this may mean a parent talks with their teen about setting progress goals for assignments daily.

4. Accountability and Responsibility

Regardless of a child’s age or school grade, a parent must immediately require their child’s personal accountability for homework and assignments. Parents should have clear rules about writing down assignments in a notebook or remembering to bring all necessary homework materials, such as books or calculators, home each night. If a child fails to hold up their end of the bargain, then the established consequences should be enforced.

5. Create a “Learning Space”

For many children, a “learning space” specifically set aside for homework can allow them to mentally enter into a “school mode” at home. This may mean that a small office is stocked with pens, paper, and necessary tools for assignments; however, on the other hand, this also may mean that a child may need to access the library each day for homework (if they are too distracted at home). Regardless of a child’s needs, a parent must create a free space for a child to complete assignments without disruptions or distractions.

6. Teach Prioritization

Children are gradually assigned more homework tasks as they progress through the school grades, and parents can intervene and teach children how to prioritize their homework assignments. If a project is due in a week, a parent can help their child set up a timeline for small daily tasks. Or, if a child is feeling overwhelmed, a parent can help them make a list of everything that must be done and then number each task to prioritize the academic responsibilities.

7. Check Your Child’s Progress

While public schools send report cards and progress reports, many schools post grades and homework assignments online. Parents can speak with their child’s teacher(s) about the best ways to check in on the student’s progress throughout the semester and school year so that students are able to consistently perform to their potential without falling behind or struggling.

8. Allow Freedoms When Earned

If a child successfully meets all of the outlined homework rules and expectations, parents can allow certain appropriate freedoms if their child seems to be excelling in their tasks and schoolwork. For example, if a child asks to change their homework time or “learning space,” parents should experiment with new freedoms as the child gradually excels with their academic responsibility. Parents can consider new privileges and rewards for their child's achievements as long as the child seems to be successfully comprehending and excelling in academic pursuits and assignments.

9. Be a Study Buddy

Many times, especially when a child feels overwhelmed with a task or assignment, parents can offer support by simply helping their child study. This involves quizzing a child, teaching a child study strategies, or also just helping a child get organized. Sometimes, giving a child attention during difficult tasks can boost a child’s morale and effort.

10. Encourage and Support

Most importantly, a parent should serve as a motivational academic cheerleader. Homework should not be a punishment or a time that’s dreaded. Approach homework with a positive attitude and consistently reward the child with positive verbal feedback. Children do not require material treats or presents for success; moreover, they thrive on verbal support and encouragement. For example, if a child consistently does their homework without complaining, remind them each day, “I love how you always do your assignments with such a great attitude. I admire your ability to do what’s assigned with such an adult work ethic!” When compliments are specific and meaningful, a child will feel more confident and motivated to continually follow through with his or her responsibilities and performance.

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Too much help with homework can hinder your child’s learning progress

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Clinical psychologist; visiting fellow, Queensland University of Technology

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Parents are often guilty of helping their child a bit too much with their homework. Sometimes the homework battle can be made that little bit easier if you just tell your child what to do, or simply do it for them . At least it’s been done, you think.

Teachers have spoken of parents writing their children’s assignments, taking on the homework responsibility and emailing teachers out of hours , or, as in one case, turning up at a teacher’s home on the weekend to ask about the homework that was set.

But research shows that giving your child too much help could actually hinder their skills development and lead them to feel incompetent .

Help with homework can be filled with tension or create pressure to succeed for the child.

That’s not to say that parents shouldn’t get involved, as research shows this is an important factor in academic success. But parents need to know when it’s appropriate to do this, and when to step back.

Helicopter parenting

Overparenting has been described as delivering appropriate parenting characteristics to a degree where they cease to be beneficial . This approach can result in anxiety , narcissism , poor resilience and an external locus of control in children.

When parents assume responsibility for making their child always happy and successful, they discourage their child from developing age-appropriate autonomy and encourage the child to expect other adults to protect them from facing any challenge.

One study showed children over the age of nine viewed parental help or monitoring of their homework as a sign of their incompetence. It might be useful to offer this kind of support when a child is younger, but parents need to adjust their approach to homework as the child gets older and help only if specifically requested.

For adolescents, parental help with homework has been posited to be developmentally inappropriate . The child should be self-managing their workload, so this kind of help can limit the adolescent’s development of autonomy and sense of responsibility for their schoolwork, leading to poorer homework performance .

By year 12, parents should step back completely. If they don’t, students can rely on the adults in their lives to take a high level of responsibility for them completing their academic work, which may reduce their motivation in school work.

A recent study of parents from Catholic and independent schools found those who endorse overparenting beliefs tend to take more responsibility for their child doing their homework and also expect their child’s teachers to take more responsibility for it, particularly in the middle and senior school years.

This research may explain why some parents continue to be highly involved in their child’s university work and not grant their child autonomy over their own decisions . These parental actions have been associated with higher rates of depression and reduced life satisfaction among university students

Here’s how to provide the appropriate level of support.

Tips for parents

Show an interest in your child’s schooling but avoid being more interested in their schoolwork than they are – or it risks making it “your thing” and not “their thing”.

Set rules about homework (when and where it should be done), particularly in their younger years.

Try not to offer your help before they ask; let them ask you. This will boost their confidence in completing schoolwork without constant adult help.

Make sure you are coaching and not doing. Don’t fix every mistake or act as an editor. Get older children to ask you specific questions only, like, for example: “Is my conclusion clear?”

In junior school, get homework done before fun things. Then prompt rather than remind them, eg: “What needs to be done before you watch TV?”

Every year, reassess what you do for your child and whether your actions stop them developing important skills, such as responsibility and autonomy. For example, you should start to withdraw your reminders for homework early in their schooling, including gentle reminders such as, “Do you have much homework?”

With this must come the child accepting responsibility for homework and teacher-delivered consequences should they forget to do homework or to bring it to school. Remember these remain a reflection of your child’s current organisation and motivation, not your parenting.

Finally, remember a golden rule – your actions as a parent should not be primarily about making them successful now, but about building the life skills that will enable them to be successful in the future without your help.

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Not All Homework Help Is Helpful

Parents helping kids with homework can sometimes backfire..

Posted September 25, 2019 | Reviewed by Gary Drevitch

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Here’s a scenario that happens every school night in many homes: A parent says to a child, “Let me see your homework.” The child grudgingly hands it over. The parent checks the homework and sees that the child made a number of mistakes. When the parent says, “You need to redo these,” the child yells, cries, argues, or balks.

Many parents believe that they’re not doing their job unless they check their kids’ homework. But these efforts often turn into ugly scenes that end with both parents and children feeling frustrated and upset.

Obviously, parents insist on many things that upset children, such as brushing teeth or cleaning up their rooms, but battles over correcting homework may cause more harm than good.

Research on parental help with homework

Perhaps surprisingly, research on parental help with homework shows little or no benefit. A recent quantitative review of over 400 studies by Michael Barger and colleagues found that, overall, there’s a small positive link between parental school involvement and children’s academic achievement, engagement, and motivation , and even to children’ social and emotional adjustment. When parents are involved at school, when they’re interested and encouraging about children’s schoolwork, or when they offer intellectual stimulation at home such as reading a book together, children tend to do better academically and feel more motivated. On the other hand, homework help from parents is linked to lower achievement and isn’t related to children’s academic engagement or motivation.

One possible explanation for the link between homework help from parents and lower achievement could be that parents are more likely to step in when kids are struggling with homework. This seems very likely.

Another possible explanation is that unpleasant interactions like the one described above create feelings of anger and resentment in kids and parents.

Research findings are based on “averages,” which may or may not be relevant for your particular child, but, at a minimum, we can say that checking your child’s homework is not a must-do and could even backfire.

Some good reasons to avoid checking your child’s homework

In addition to the negative reactions it tends to provoke, there are other reasons why you might want to avoid checking your child’s homework:

  • It interferes with communication with teachers by making it harder for teachers to see what children do or don’t understand.
  • It suggests that mistakes are intolerable and implies to kids, "You're not capable of doing homework on your own!' or even, “Your work isn’t good enough to be seen in public, so I have to correct it!”
  • It creates confusion about whether responsibility for homework belongs to the parent or the child.
  • It can lead to kids giving up too easily. If they know their parents are going to check everything, what’s the point of trying?

Homework help that’s actually helpful

So, what should parents’ role be when it comes to children’s homework? Don’t assume that your involvement with homework is necessary. If your child is generally a good student, you may not need to do anything to help with homework. Just having a positive attitude toward school and education and being interested in what your child is learning may be enough.

If possible, try to be available if your child is confused and wants to ask you to explain something about homework. Letting your child come to you to ask for help, if needed, makes it more likely that your child will get the right type of assistance. It also keeps the responsibility for homework on your child’s shoulders and lets you stay in a supporting role.

But what if your child often struggles with homework? From a kid’s point of view, there’s nothing worse than thinking you’ve finished your homework and then being told, “Nope. You did it wrong. Do it over!” Rather than correcting your child’s homework, it may be better to offer your help up front, to set your child up for success. Here are some ways to do that:

parents help with homework

Create routines . Work with your child to figure out a location and time for doing homework that minimize distractions and promote productivity .

Go over directions to be sure your child understands what to do. Some kids tend to skip reading instructions. It may be helpful to have your child read instructions aloud while circling or underlying key words. For more complex directions, you may want to have your child restate them in his or her own words.

Break down large tasks . If your child gets overwhelmed by large assignments, creating a plan together and spelling out manageable steps could help your child get moving and get it done.

Consider the grading rubric to help avoid wasted effort. Some kids tend to get lost in the details. It’s discouraging for children to spend a large amount of time on one tiny aspect of a project and then have to rush on the main parts. Use the rubric to help your child figure out “Which ingredients does the teacher think are most important?” and “Which ingredients are less important?”

Check only for completion. If your child often avoids homework, skips items, or overlooks the back page, you may need to check just that the work is done. Or, better yet, encourage your child to quickly scan the pages or cross items off a list of assignments.

If homework is routinely difficult, talk with the teacher. Having children endure hours of misery over homework isn’t useful or kind. The teacher may be able to suggest sources of help or perhaps reduce the homework load.

See the big picture

Our goal for our children is not to have them do well on one particular assignment, but to help them become capable learners. If we intrude too much or shower them with criticism, it won’t help them embrace effort or curiosity.

We need to make room for children to try, and maybe mess up, and try again.

But taking a step back from homework help can be challenging as a parent. It means that when you visit your child’s school for parents’ night, some other kid’s sugar cube sculpture might look like the work of a professional engineer—because it was. And your child’s sugar cube sculpture will look like the work of an eight-year-old—because it was. That’s a good thing.

Related posts:

  • How to Resist Competitive Parenting
  • What We Get Wrong About Children’s Self-Esteem
  • Preventing Mom Meltdowns and Dad Detonations

Barger, M. M., Kim, E. M., Kuncel, N. R., & Pomerantz, E. M. (2019). The relation between parents’ involvement in children’s schooling and children’s adjustment: A meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 145(9), 855-890.

Eileen Kennedy-Moore Ph.D.

Eileen Kennedy-Moore, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, based in Princeton, NJ, and author of many books, including Kid Confidence (for parents) and Growing Friendships (for children).

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60 percent of parents struggle to help with homework, survey reveals


  • Get in a routine: Set up a good sleep schedule, regular outdoor activities and a dedicated time for hitting the books—and be consistent, using positive reinforcement to create strong learning habits.
  • Stay one step ahead: Talk to teachers about classroom learning goals and how to build excitement around them at home.
  • Spur imagination: Infuse homework assignments with wonder by asking relevant questions: “ How can math help you cook? ” and “ How are mountains made? ”

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Good Afternoon: Please pass this information on to parents who have children struggling with math multiplication facts. Thank you, Ms. P's Study Hall: Our Boot Camp Interactive, Engaging and Thought Provoking Videos Are A Great Source To Encourage, Enrich, and Enhance Students’ Reading and Math Skills. We Provide Videos To Help Children On Their Educational Journey. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCfykyP0ZUaPzaq4DCV6A7DA/videos

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Toyota, one of the nation's most successful corporations, began a partnership with NCFL in 1991. In addition to a commitment of more than $50 million, Toyota has also contributed a wealth of in-kind support — including advertising, planning and management expertise — to form one of the most progressive corporate/nonprofit partnerships in the nation.

Three major programs have been developed through the Toyota partnership based on the family literacy model of parents and children learning together. These models have influenced federal and state legislation, leveraged local dollars to support family literacy and led to successful programs being replicated across the country.

William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust

NCFL received its very first donation in 1989 from the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust to promote and implement family literacy programming, first in Kentucky and North Carolina and later nationwide. The Kenan Family Literacy Model in part laid the groundwork for 30 years of subsequent family literacy and family learning programming developed by NCFL.

Kenan has continued to support NCFL’s place-based family literacy programs since our inception. Most recently, it has invested in our organization’s Sharon Darling Innovation Fund, which will launch emerging ideas and programmatic evolutions in the multigenerational learning space.

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation began partnering with NCFL in 2006. A signature effort of this partnership is the National Literacy Directory, a resource that launched in 2010 and strives to guide potential students and volunteers to literacy services, community education programs, and testing centers in their communities.

The National Literacy Directory contains over 10,000 educational agencies located across the United States and has a dedicated toll-free number to help support those wanting to pursue educational opportunities in their communities.

Dollar General also provides support for development of NCFL’s innovative family learning resources centered on financial literacy and Parent and Child Together (PACT) Time ® .

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PNC Grow Up Great believes deeply in the power of high-quality early childhood education and provides innovative opportunities that assist families, educators and community organizations to enhance children's learning and development.

PNC Grow Up Great has partnered with NCFL since 1994, most recently in Louisville, Kentucky, to support  Say & Play with Words , our pre-Kindergarten vocabulary-building initiative.

NCFL's work is also featured on the PNC Grow Up Great Lesson Center website . The Lesson Center includes over 100 free, high-quality preschool lesson plans and research-based instructional techniques and strategies. All lesson plans contain Home/School Connections printouts, in English and Spanish, to help families extend and reinforce the learning at home.

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Initiated through the U.S. Department of Education in 2018, the Statewide Family Engagement Centers (SFEC) program provides 12 grantees and 13 states with five-year, $5 million grants to promote and implement systemic evidenced-based family engagement strategies. NCFL was selected to lead SFECs in two states, Arizona and Nebraska , and is a primary partner for two other SFECs in Kentucky and Maryland/Pennsylvania. 

The SFECs work to support family engagement through state- and local-level agencies while providing both professional development to school districts and direct services to families related to children’s academic outcomes and overall well-being.

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NCFL was named a recipient of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s " Voices for Economic Opportunity Grand Challenge ," which seeks to elevate diverse voices in order to broaden the conversation about the issues inhibiting economic mobility and generate deeper awareness along with actionable understanding. NCFL will develop and launch a podcast series that will highlight the remarkable stories of low-income, diverse families across the U.S. who have improved their communities through Family Service Learning.

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

Mother helping her child with homework

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.

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

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Whether you study at school, college, or university, it’s more likely you have to do your homework after classes. Most teachers believe that out-of-class studies help kids get a deeper understanding of the subject, turn theoretical knowledge into practical skills, and improve academic achievement.

However, most children are overwhelmed with the number of homework projects they have to complete. Once school students get too much homework , they turn to their parents to ask for help with their studies: Whether they need to complete school assignments, college projects , or university coursework. Why? Not only do parents know the material better than their kids, but they also help to manage time wisely which means working on homework faster without sacrificing the quality.

But a logical question appears: Should parents help with homework ?

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The question is controversial: Although some researchers believe that parents should gradually reduce homework help as their children grow older, other people claim that parental involvement cultivates positive learning behaviors.

First, we’ll discuss what role a parent plays in the kids’ education. Next, let’s find out the pros and cons of helping youngsters with homework.

The Role of Parents in the Educational Process

It’s in parents’ nature to feel responsibility for their kids’ academic performance. More often than not, they want to take part in their children’s education , engage in learning, and help their kids prepare for learning and set priorities.

Researchers have found that parental involvement in learning has many benefits for children : When parents help their school students with studies, it helps to improve student performance, reduce absenteeism, get higher grades and test scores, and improve social skills.

For a variety of reasons, parental involvement has many benefits for family relationships if a parent avoids trying to control the process and completes homework assignments for kids. Thus, it’s important to find out the pros and cons of this involvement.

Let’s dive in.

The Pros and Cons of Parental Involvement in Homework Preparation

  • Help to understand the material better: Most students seek out homework assistance at school if they lack knowledge or don’t understand the task and/or the material even if they study well at school. In most cases, it’s difficult for children to understand the principles of calculus so they ask parents for help. Since parents have more experience and knowledge, they can find alternative ways to explain the subject to their kids.
  • Improve parent-child relationships: When parents and kids spend time together on doing kids’ homework, it helps them turn quantity time into quality time which means they can improve parent-child relationships.
  • Stay organized and beat procrastination: Most parents are more focused and organized and they know how to set priorities, so their assistance helps children manage their time and work on assignments faster. Plus, being organized helps students spend time with friends or enjoy their hobbies.
  • Cultivate positive learning behaviors: When parents help their kids and gradually reduce homework help when their children get older, it helps school students follow an example their parents give and stick to positive learning behaviors. Plus, children stop bothering about the homework ban .
  • Motivate children for education: It’s no secret that parents have their tips and tricks on motivating kids for education that work well for their offspring. Some parents promise their kids to allow them to spend time with friends while other moms and dads give expensive gifts. No matter what motivates your kid , if your child is interested in the learning process, it’s more likely he or she will keep on studying even if you stop motivating them.
  • Add stress by parental expectations: If children ask a highly educated parent for homework assistance after school, it’s no wonder that these moms and dads have high expectations to children even if they have to deal with biostatistics homework . Thus, they expect their kids to complete assignments faster without losing the quality. But if kids can’t meet their parents expectations, it leads to additional stress, anxiety, and headaches.
  • Lead to misunderstanding between a parent and a kid: Although involved parents are aimed at helping their kids improve academic performance, adults and kids may have different attitudes toward the learning process. For example, some parents may believe that children should study and complete their philosophy assignments after classes while their kids need to relax after in-class activities so they want to do their homework later in the evening. All in all, it can lead to misunderstanding between them and family.
  • Discourage independent learning and self-management: When parents put much effort into helping children with homework assignments and they control the process from A to Z, it discourage children to stay responsible for their homework routine. Why? They know that parents will remind them about the workload and help them complete their tasks on a good level. All in all, it discourages independent learning and self-management.
  • Result in lower test scores: It’s no wonder that most parents want to raise their kids smart and successful, so it can lead to the temptation to complete assignments for their kids when it comes to helping children with homework. As a result, children get high grades for out-of-class activities, but they can’t set priorities and implement these skills during tests.

The Bottom Line

If you still wonder whether should parents help with homework or not, you’d better pay attention to your child’s individual learning needs and his or her academic performance.

Plus, it’s a good idea to consult teachers and other school staff on how to make the most out of your homework engagement so that your children can improve academic performance, achieve better results, and obtain in-depth knowledge.

  • Schools Support
  • Parent Support
  • Parental Engagement

How schools can support parents helping with homework

parents help with homework

Homework: What schools can do to support parents and pupils

As any school will know, pupils vary wildly in their attitudes towards and ability to complete homework. Some children are naturally motivated and organised, so need a limited amount of support. However, many find the task of completing homework a burden that they just can’t quite get to grips with.

There are all sorts of reasons why these students struggle to complete or stay on top of their homework. For some neurodiverse children, it might be less to do with a lack of motivation and more to do with their inability to remember and organise. In addition, lots of children don’t have peaceful home lives. They may live in volatile homes or may be carers outside of their school time, making it difficult for them to find the time to complete homework.

Of course, outside of all of these factors, it’s important to remember when setting homework that you’re relying on children, who don’t have a fully developed prefrontal cortex, to remember and initiate a practice that requires a lot of discipline. As a result, homework is always going to be something pupils struggle with to some extent.

Challenges parents helping with homework face

On top of these difficulties young people may face with completing homework, it’s not exactly a walk in the park for parents either. If their children can’t remember being set homework, there’s nothing much they can do to support them with it. And for those parents whose children can remember being set homework, the question is: did they write it down? Do they know when the deadline is and what they have to do?

Then, there are challenges with the work itself. If parents helping with homework don’t know the methods children are being taught to solve problems or are unfamiliar with the subject matter, they can worry they’re teaching their children the wrong thing.

Why schools need to work alongside parents to provide homework support

This is why it can be incredibly powerful to provide additional support to parents and pupils to help them complete their homework. Because homework, as it happens, really matters. It has been shown to have a positive impact on learning , improve study skills, teach accountability, and contribute to time management skills.

But should parents help with homework? Well, yes. In short, enabling parents to support their children with homework is a really important way of encouraging parental engagement, which in itself has been shown to contribute to better academic outcomes . So, schools should absolutely be working alongside parents to help them support their children. But how can schools do this?

Encouraging positive parent-teacher communication

Ultimately, to help parents support their children with homework, schools need to bridge the gap between school and home. The best and most efficient way of doing this is with communications software designed for schools.

With specially designed communications software , parents and pupils should be able to find everything they need to know in one place, such as an app custom designed for your school . This means that parents can easily stay up to date with everything they need to know, including tips for parents to help with homework. Communications software can also facilitate secure, two-way communication between teachers and parents.

While school communication software can be used for a variety of purposes, it can also be used to support homework. For example, the Homework App from ReachMoreParents provides a simple, online space accessible at both school and home, where teachers can upload homework assignments, complete with deadlines and supporting materials. Essentially, a Homework App provides a virtual to do list that parents can easily access to find out what their child needs to do and when they need to do it by.

So your school can spend less time chasing and reminding, and parents can feel more engaged in school life.

Tips for parents helping with homework

  • Establish a routine

With a homework app that states what their child needs to do and when, it can be much easier for parents to establish a homework routine and stick to it. Having a routine can also really help to combat procrastination if homework time simply becomes a normal part of a child’s day and can help to teach children discipline and time management.

  • Keep homework time as homework time

Part of establishing a routine is also about setting boundaries. It may seem like schools want pupils to spend all evening doing homework, but that simply isn’t the case. So, it can be a good idea for schools to encourage parents to set a time limit on how long a child does their homework for, with the rule that once that time is up the rest of their evening is for them to do what they want with.

  • Bring homework to life

In school, there can be limited opportunities for discussion about certain topics. That’s why schools should encourage parents to take the opportunity to expand these topics at home – and bring learning to life. When it comes to a subject like history, there’s a real chance for parents to share their experiences about living through or learning about historical events – and pupils could even interview their parents to gain more understanding about these topics. Not only does this broaden knowledge, but unites students and parents in the learning experience.

  • Support but don’t take over

If parents know the answers, it can be easy for them to get ahead of themselves and do the work for their child. However, we know this doesn’t support learning. Of course, parents aren’t trained teachers, so it can be useful to send a homework policy letter to parents or a parents’ guide to homework to help them identify where they’re supporting and where they might be taking over.

How can our Homework App help both Parents and Students?

At ReachMoreParents , we understand how useful it can be to keep parents in the loop about homework and encourage them to support their children. That’s why our Homework App for Schools is designed to:

  • Remove the need for students to write down tasks in the classroom.
  • Give parents access to their children’s assignments and the opportunity to participate in their learning.
  • Give teachers the flexibility to set homework online, quickly and easily, and embed words, images, videos, and links as they need.

By using the Homework App from ReachMoreParents , not only can schools increase parental engagement, but they can prevent pupils forgetting their assignments or deadlines, instil accountability, and increase homework uptake rates, leading to better academic outcomes overall.

To find out more about how to support parents and pupils with homework using our range of software for schools , click here to book a discovery call  at a time that suits you, drop us a line via our enquiry form , or give us a call on 01509 221 349.

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The New York Times


The Opinion Pages

November 12, 2014

Should Parents Help Their Children With Homework?



Sociologists at the University of Texas at Austin and Duke University have found that parental involvement, including homework help, can have a negative effect on a child’s academic achievement.

As parents fret to give their children the tools to be successful in the future, are they doing more harm than good? Is parental involvement out of control?

Erika A. Patall

Help With Forming Good Study Habits

Erika A. Patall, University of Texas

When kids feel like homework has value and doing it is their own choice, it will seem more interesting and lead to greater achievement.

Alfie Kohn

The Homework Parent Trap

Alfie Kohn, author

I think “back off and let 'em fend for themselves” is poor advice. What's needed isn't less parenting but better parenting. But that's not an argument in favor of homework.

H. Richard Milner IV

Not All Students Have Access to Help

H. Richard Milner IV, University of Pittsburgh

Questions about the uneven distribution of resources should be at the very heart of our philosophies and practices in deciding on homework assignments.

Jessica Lahey

Autonomy Works Best for the Classroom

Jessica Lahey, Author, "The Gift of Failure"

The children of controlling parents, who intervene and manage every detail of their child’s performance, tend to give up when faced with challenge and frustration.

Martha Brockenbrough

Be Supportive and Let Learning Happen

Martha Brockenbrough, former teacher, author

My daughters have handed in homework that’s less than perfect. And this might look like incompetence, but when I see it, I see learning in progress.

Sara Bennett

Don’t Bother, Homework Is Pointless

Sara Bennett, author, "The Case Against Homework"

Educators should realize that homework sets up a pattern of dependence that continues throughout the school years, rather than instilling responsibility and self-discipline as they claim.

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Curriculum and Instruction

Key Lessons: What Research Says About the Value of Homework

Whether homework helps students — and how much homework is appropriate — has been debated for many years. Homework has been in the headlines again recently and continues to be a topic of controversy, with claims that students and families are suffering under the burden of huge amounts of homework. School board members, educators, and parents may wish to turn to the research for answers to their questions about the benefits and drawbacks of homework. Unfortunately, the research has produced mixed results so far, and more research is needed. Nonetheless, there are some findings that can help to inform decisions about homework. What follows is a summary of the research to date:

There is no conclusive evidence that homework increases student achievement across the board. Some studies show positive effects of homework under certain conditions and for certain students, some show no effects, and some suggest negative effects (Kohn 2006; Trautwein and Koller 2003).

Some studies have shown that older students gain more academic benefits from homework than do younger students, perhaps because younger students have less-effective study habits and are more easily distracted (Cooper 1989; Hoover-Dempsey et al. 2001; Leone and Richards 1989; Muhlenbruck et al. 2000).

Some researchers believe that students from higher-income homes have more resources (such as computers) and receive more assistance with homework, while low-income students may have fewer resources and less assistance and are therefore less likely to complete the homework and reap any related benefits (McDermott, Goldmen and Varenne 1984; Scott-Jones 1984).

Students with learning disabilities can benefit from homework if appropriate supervision and monitoring are provided (Cooper and Nye 1994; Rosenberg 1989).

A national study of the influence of homework on student grades across five ethnic groups found that homework had a stronger impact on Asian American students than on students of other ethnicities (Keith and Benson, 1992).

Certain nonacademic benefits of homework have been shown, especially for younger students. Indeed, some primary-level teachers may assign homework for such benefits, which include learning the importance of responsibility, managing time, developing study habits, and staying with a task until it is completed (Cooper, Robinson and Patall 2006; Corno and Xu 2004; Johnson and Pontius 1989; Warton 2001).

While research on the optimum amount of time students should spend on homework is limited, there are indications that for high school students, 1½ to 2½ hours per night is optimum. Middle school students appear to benefit from smaller amounts (less than 1 hour per night). When students spend more time than this on homework, the positive relationship with student achievement diminishes (Cooper, Robinson, and Patall 2006).

Some research has shown that students who spend more time on homework score higher on measures of achievement and attitude. Studies that have delved more deeply into this topic suggest, however, that the amount of homework assigned by teachers is unrelated to student achievement, while the amount of homework actually completed by students is associated with higher achievement (Cooper 2001; Cooper, Lindsay, Nye, and Greathouse 1998).

Studies of after-school programs that provide homework assistance have found few definite links to improved student achievement. Several studies, however, noted improvements in student motivation and work habits, which may indirectly affect achievement (Cosden, Morrison, Albanese, and Macias 2001; James-Burdumy et al. 2005).

Homework assignments that require interaction between students and parents result in higher levels of parent involvement and are more likely to be turned in than noninteractive assignments. Some studies have shown, however, that parent involvement in homework has no impact on student achievement. Other studies indicate that students whose parents are more involved in their homework have lower test scores and class grades — but this may be because the students were already lower performing and needed more help from their parents than did higher-performing students. (Balli, Wedman, and Demo 1997; Cooper, Lindsay, and Nye 2000; Epstein 1988; Van Voorhis 2003).

Most teachers assign homework to reinforce what was presented in class or to prepare students for new material. Less commonly, homework is assigned to extend student learning to different contexts or to integrate learning by applying multiple skills around a project. Little research exists on the effects of these different kinds of homework on student achievement, leaving policymakers with little evidence on which to base decisions (Cooper 1989; Foyle 1985; Murphy and Decker 1989).

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Balli, S. J., Wedman, J. F., & Demo, D. H. (1997). Family involvement with middle-grades homework: Effects of differential prompting. Journal of Experimental Education, 66, 31-48.

Cooper, H. (1989). Homework. White Plains, N.Y.: Longman.

Cooper, H. (2001). Homework for all — in moderation. Educational Leadership, 58, 34-38.

Cooper, H., Lindsay, J. J, Nye, B., & Greathouse, S. (1998). Relationships among attitudes about homework, amount of homework assigned and completed, and student achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(1), 70-83.

Cooper, H., & Nye, B. (1994). Homework for students with learning disabilities: The implications of research for policy and practice. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 27, 470-479.

Cooper, H., Nye, B.A., & Lindsay, J.J. (2000). Homework in the home: How student, family and parenting style differences relate to the homework process. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 25(4), 464-487.

Cooper, H., Robinson, J. C., & Patall, E. A. (2006). Does homework improve academic achievement? A synthesis of research. Review of Educational Research, 76, 1-62.

Corno, L., & Xu, J. (2004). Homework as the job of childhood. Theory Into Practice, 43, 227-233.

Cosden, M., Morrison, G., Albanese, A. L., & Macias, S. (2001). When homework is not home work: After-school programs for homework assistance. Educational Psychologist, 36(3), 211-221.

Epstein, J. L. (1998). Homework practices, achievements, and behaviors of elementary school students. Baltimore: Center for Research on Elementary and Middle Schools. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED301322]

Foyle, H. C. (1985). The effects of preparation and practice homework on student achievement in tenth-grade American history (Doctoral dissertation, Kansas State University, 1985). Dissertation Abstracts International, 45, 8A.

Hoover-Dempsey, K. V., Battiato, A. C., Walker, J. M. T., Reed, R. P., DeJong, J. M. & Jones, K. P. (2001). Parental involvement in homework. Educational Psychologist, 36, 195-209.

James-Burdumy, S., Dynarski, M., Moore, M., Deke, J., Mansfield, W., Pistorino, C. & Warner, E. (2005). When Schools Stay Open Late: The National Evaluation of the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Program Final Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Education/Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance.

Johnson, J. K., & Pontius, A. (1989). Homework: A survey of teacher beliefs and practices. Research in Education, 41, 71-78.

Keith, T. Z., & Benson, M. J. (1992). Effects of manipulable influences on high school grades across five ethnic groups. Journal of Educational Research, 86, 85-93.

Kohn, A. (2006, September). Abusing research: The study of homework and other examples. Phi Delta Kappan, 8-22.

Leone, C. M., & Richards, M. H. (1989). Classwork and homework in early adolescence: The ecology of achievement. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 18, 531-548.

McDermott, R. P., Goldman, S. V., & Varenne, H. (1984). When school goes home: Some problems in the organization of homework [Abstract]. Teachers College Record, 85, 391-409.

Muhlenbruck, L., Cooper, H., Nye, B., & Lindsay, J. J. (2000). Homework and achievement: explaining the different strengths of relation at the elementary and secondary school levels. Social Psychology of Education, 3, 295-317.

Murphy, J. & Decker, K. (1989). Teachers’ use of homework in high schools. Journal of Educational Research, 82(5), 261-269.

Rosenberg, M. S. (1989). The effects of daily homework assignments on the acquisition of basic skills by students with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 22, 314-323.

Scott-Jones, D. (1984). Family influences on cognitive development and school achievement. Review of Research in Education, 11, 259-304.

Trautwein, U., & Koller, O. (2003). The relationship between homework and achievement — still much of a mystery. Educational Psychology Review, 15, 115-145.

Van Voorhis, F. L. (2003). Interactive homework in middle school: Effects on family involvements and science achievement. Journal of Educational Research, 96(6), 323-338.

Warton, P. M. (2001). The forgotten voice in homework: Views of students. Educational Psychologist, 36, 155-165.

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Is your workplace supportive of nursing parents? As a leader, you can help your organization go beyond simply complying with new regulations and signal commitment and care for nursing employees returning to work. Start by considering the spaces available to employees who need to pump at work. Ask yourself: Do we have enough pumping rooms […]

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    Ultimately, to help parents support their children with homework, schools need to bridge the gap between school and home. The best and most efficient way of doing this is with communications software designed for schools. With specially designed communications software, parents and pupils should be able to find everything they need to know in ...

  21. Sociologist upends notions about parental help with homework

    That's why we observe this negative correlation between parent help with homework and student achievement," says Li. By factoring in other variables, he and Hamlin found parental homework help can ...

  22. Should Parents Help Their Children With Homework?

    Debaters. Help With Forming Good Study Habits. Erika A. Patall, University of Texas When kids feel like homework has value and doing it is their own choice, it will seem more interesting and lead ...

  23. Key Lessons: What Research Says About the Value of Homework

    The effect of parent involvement in homework is unclear. Studies of parent involvement in homework have produced mixed results. ... test scores and class grades — but this may be because the students were already lower performing and needed more help from their parents than did higher-performing students. (Balli, Wedman, and Demo 1997; Cooper ...

  24. How to Support Nursing Parents at Work

    As a leader, you can help your organization go beyond simply complying with new regulations and signal commitment and care for nursing employees returning to work. Start by considering the spaces ...

  25. Should parents help their kids with homework?

    The effectiveness of homework help also seems to increase when parents foster independent learning behaviors. When helping with homework, parents should avoid trying to control the process and ...