Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The dog ate my homework: Taking the bite out of howmework time


Sometimes I wonder which I dread more, the math homework I struggled through during childhood or struggling through my children's math homework.  At times I feel like I need a tutor to walk me through the mathematical jargon and new methods utilized in the classrooms.  For example, many parents learned to "borrow" figures in multiplication and division problems.  Students are now being taught "re-grouping" figures in multiplication and division problems.  Its the same concept with different terminology, which can make helping your children with their homework more difficult.

Homework can be a significantly stressful thing for children and parents alike.  It can be considered a scholarly friend or enemy.  Typically subject matters that are more difficult for the child will be their Achilles' heel academically.  What can parents do to make homework less of a struggle?

  • Establish good study habits: a quiet area with minimal distractions and adequate lighting
  • Establish good time management and organization skills: separate subjects and use a calendar to record due dates and progress
  • Pace the load: complete longer assignments over multiple study sessions
  • Alternate subjects: give difficult subjects a break and work on easier subjects
  • Be a cheerleader: give praise for their efforts
  • Prime time: determine when your child is able to focus best and exploit the opportunity
  • Demonstrations: utilize objects and real life situations to grasp difficult concepts
  • Role model: set a good example by working along with your child or reading while they work
  • Corrections: check their completed homework, assisting them to understand why a particular answer is correct rather than others
  • Resources: teach rather than show children where and how to use reference materials such as a dictionary, thesaurus, and credible study websites
Homework increases academic performance and can form lifelong attitudes towards higher learning and workload as adults.  As parents, we naturally want the best for our children.  It can be difficult to watch them struggle with homework, especially if it is a struggling topic for the parent as well.  Parents do not have to navigate through homework with their children alone.  Teachers typically make themselves available to students for clarification after class times.  Communities often have free or reduced-cost tutoring services.  The public library is an excellent study area as well as utilizing the assistance of the librarians. 

The purpose of homework is to reinforce academic curriculum.  Therefore it is important for children to understand the concepts while completing their homework rather than just getting it completed.  Homework can also provide familial bonding opportunities as parent and child learn concepts together.    

References: Skolnik, D. (2012). Homework Help. Parenting School Years, 26(8), 113-116.

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