en españolLos diez mejores consejos sobre los deberes escolares
Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.
Of course, helping with homework shouldn't mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!
Here are some tips to guide the way:
- Know the teachers — and what they're looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child's teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
- Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
- Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
- Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there's an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
- Make sure kids do their own work. They won't learn if they don't think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it's a kid's job to do the learning.
- Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
- Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents' examples than their advice.
- Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
- If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child's teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.
What’s the homework situation in your family? How much do your parents help with your homework? And in what ways?
Room for Debate recently asked whether parents should help their children with their homework or whether they end up doing more harm than good.
Experts weighed in with varying opinions.
Erika A. Patall, an assistant professor of educational psychology, writes:
When it comes to helping with homework, education and psychology research suggests that it all depends on how parents become involved.
What is essential is that parents focus on supporting students’ motivation. Parent help can backfire when it involves providing instruction on homework content. In contrast, parents will support their kids’ school success when they communicate clear expectations and help students develop a homework routine. Students who have a clearly defined routine around homework — a set time, a set place and a set way to complete homework — are more likely to believe they can overcome challenges while doing homework, take more responsibility for learning, and ultimately do better in school. Homework is an especially good opportunity for parents to help young kids develop self-regulatory skills, by modeling study strategies and helping students set goals and make plans for completing homework.
Parents should also give kids autonomy. When kids struggle with homework, parents sometimes have an instinct to take control by using commands, incentives, threats, surveillance, or just doing the work themselves. These tactics may work in the short term, but won’t benefit kids in the long run.
Martha Brockenbrough, a former high school teacher and the author of books for young readers, writes:
My daughters are 10 and 14. Once upon a time, I did everything for them. Then they learned and took over. This is a core principle of parenthood for me: If my kids can do it themselves, I don’t do it for them.
My daughters sometimes wear questionable outfits and pack questionable lunches. Likewise, they’ve handed in homework that’s less than perfect. And this might look like incompetence, but when I see it, I see learning in progress.
The principle seems to work equally well for all kinds of kids. One of my girls has learning disabilities and is in a private school that specializes in such things. The other is working two years ahead academically in a public school. Both have learned they prefer better grades and fewer corrections on their homework, so both do it carefully and on time.
Students: Read the entire article, then tell us …
— How much do your parents help with your homework? What kind of help do they provide?
— Do they help you develop a homework routine? Do they help motivate you and provide assistance when you ask?
— Do they ever use commands, incentives, threats or surveillance? Do they ever do the work themselves?
— Has the way your parents have supported you with homework changed as you have gotten older? Did they handle homework differently when you were in elementary school, for example?
— Does homework ever cause conflict in your family? How so?
— Are you happy with the way your parents support you with your homework? Or do you wish they would handle it differently? Why?
Questions about issues in the news for students 13 and older.