Q: How can I help my child with homework?
The first rule of homework is to remember that it’s your child’s homework, not yours. The second rule? Research shows that there are other effective ways to help your child succeed, beyond helping with homework. After you remember those two important facts, there are a number of ways parents can support their kids as they do their homework:
- Encourage older children to use their school agenda to keep track of assignments and tests. Help them to set up a work schedule or even a big calendar for large projects.
- Unless it is a project, homework should be a review of what students are learning in class, so students should be able to do their homework on their own.
- While your children are doing their homework, you might do your “homework,” like paying bills, reading a book or writing a letter. It gives your children company and keeps you close at hand. But only offer to help if asked.
- Read together (in any language) with younger children, and encourage older students to spend some time each day reading by themselves.
- Talk to your children about school every day. Even if you don’t understand the topic, and even if English or French is not your first language, you can be a good listener. Research shows that just by talking about school, parents can improve students’ chances for success.
- Make sure students have all the homework supplies they need — pencils, rulers, markers, paper.
If your child is having difficulty with their homework, there are a couple of things you can try:
- Encourage students to speak to the teacher if they need help. Let them know that it is okay to ask for assistance if they don’t understand something.
- If your child doesn’t understand the homework, ask how the teacher taught the lesson. This may help him/her to remember what was learned earlier and how to find the answer.
- If your child is getting frustrated or upset, have them take a break and try again a bit later.
- If your child still cannot complete the homework after trying his or her best, it is okay to send the work back to school incomplete. You can write a note explaining why it isn’t finished, either on the homework or in the agenda. This helps the teacher understand what the problems are and provide your child with the appropriate support.
There is no research that says fighting with kids about homework helps. If you’re concerned about how much homework your child has, if your child is consistently unable to do his/her homework, or if homework is causing a lot of tension at home, make an appointment to speak to the teacher.
Some schools and some boards have a homework policy. You can ask the teacher, your school council or the principal about the policy for your school.