Knowing how to assist your child with homework can be a challenge.
Donna Corsaro, a 7th grade teacher in the Higley Unified School District and mother to her 6th grade son, offered some key steps every parent should take when helping their child with homework:
1. Establish an effective homework routine
Corsaro recommends allowing the child some time to decompress after school with a snack and some playtime before starting homework.
She also suggests having an organized homework space that is equipped with any necessary supplies and says that ideally a child should work on his or her homework in the same place so that it becomes part of the routine.
2. Set realistic expectations
“Sitting for two hours straight after a long day of school will lead to frustration,” said Corsaro.
To avoid this, Carsaro says parents should build in breaks including a chance for the child to get up and move, use technology, or simply rest.
She also said it’s advisable to chunk the assignments into manageable parts and set time targets for each assignment.
3. Develop a reward system
“Some children who struggle with homework will benefit from a reward system,” said Corsaro. “Ideally, this type of system is created with the child’s input and can serve as a motivation for persisting through the homework process.”
Coraso said parents can reward the child in a variety of ways including praise, a small treat, or another incentive that best suits the desires of the individual child.
4. Help shift the responsibility onto the child
“Often parents will intervene when a child reaches a stumbling block in an effort to help,” said Coraso.
Corsaro said this often results in the parent doing all the work while the child becomes the passive spectator.
To combat this, she suggests using “you” statements instead of “we” statements to indicate that the homework is the child’s responsibility.
For example, Corsaro says parents can shift from saying, “We have a math test to study for tonight”, to instead saying, “You have a math test that you need to study for tonight. Let me know if you need help with your flash cards or review problems.”
5. Model a positive attitude
“Teaching children to think positively about schoolwork has a profound impact on the output that is produced,” said Corsaro. “Children can be taught to frame homework as a learning opportunity and extended practice, rather than more (boring) work.”
She said parents should model positive mindsets and make connections to real-life situations to make the homework have more meaning to the child.
Corsaro says overall homework is a valuable asset to learning and can provide the child with skills to be used both in and out of the classroom.
“Just like an athlete or musician must devote practice time to improving their skillset, so must a student practice academic skills,” said Corsaro.