When you were younger, did your parents help you with your homework?
For the most part, I did my homework independently. But if I really needed some guidance, I knew that I could ask my mom. And while homework may not have been my favorite part about school, I also knew that it had to be done. Even if it meant doing it the morning it was due.
Now it seems that children have homework at younger ages. I’m not sure why this is being done and I can’t say that I agree with it at all.
But if your child is struggling with their homework, here’s how to help them without doing all of the work yourself.
Every child deserves a parent who is involved in all aspects of their life, including school. When a child has homework, it is normal and admirable to help your child with it. When a child has a parent who is involved, they are more likely to complete their assignments and do well in school.
But there is something known as “too much of a good thing,” and homework help is no exception.
There are some circumstances where a parent begins to take on too much of the child’s responsibility and ends up completing the homework rather than simply helping. How do you know where to draw the line? What is the difference between a healthily involved parent, and a parent who has gone too far?
Here are a few things to think about in regards to this issue.
Does Your Child Immediately Ask for Help?
When your child is working on their homework, do they try it first on their own? Or do they immediately call for you to do the work for them? If you are acting as a tutor, you are on the right track. If you are acting as a student, you have gone too far. Take a step back and insist that your child at least make an attempt to complete their work on their own before asking for assistance.
Inability to Work Alone
After your child has been in school a few years, they should be able to work alone for short periods of time. If your child is old enough, and still insists on having you beside him (or her) at all times, he may be relying on you too much. If your child immediately goes into a state of daydreaming when you leave the table, this could be a sign that your child has become too dependent on your homework help.
Attitude of Entitlement
Does your child seem grateful for the help you give them with their homework? Children will not always have the right manners, or act in an appropriate way. But if your child is consistently grouchy or becomes angry when you ask them to complete any homework, they may have fully shifted the load to you without your knowledge.
Do Friends Have Similar Ability?
Compare notes with your friends who have children of similar ages. Talk with the parents of your child’s schoolmates. Do other children require approximately the same level of parental help? All children will have differing abilities, but children of the same grade level should be approximately on target with their peers.
Do You Feel Resentful?
When you help your child with his homework, does it feel right? Do you feel as though you are helping him to learn a new concept and assisting him in a healthy amount? If you feel resentful, or your help feels like it is too much, there may be truth in your feelings.
When your child does homework to what degree is he or she comfortable, focused and relaxed or is doing homework a battle and a struggle every night?
Do you have to give homework help regularly?
Have you spoken to his or her teachers?
Have you tried gentle pep talks?
Do you resort to harsh reprimands?
Rarely will any or these work in isolation and pep talks and reprimands are the last things you should use as they will simply build up resistance to school and homework.
The struggle with homework can, however, be eased by “re-programming” your child’s attitude and approach to homework.
Here is a seven step approach to curing the homework struggle:
Step 1. Stop discussing doing homework with your child.
Instead discuss how he or she is approaching homework. As part of this solution guide your child to step back and really explore the way they are approaching their studies.
Step 2. Find out what pressure you child is under with regard to homework. Ask him or her:
Are you worried what your friends will think if you do or don’t do your homework?
Do you find the homework difficult and believe that you are not clever enough?
Do you enjoy struggling with your homework, or do you want to end this struggle?
Step 3. Discuss their answers openly.
Never dismiss their opinions or feelings – even if you strongly disagree with them. These feeling are theirs and are valid whatever you think. Dismissing them only reinforces them.
Step 4. Acknowledge that homework is not easy.
Show your child that resisting it makes it a bigger problem and creates an obstacle to enjoying the rest of their free time.
When you change their negative attitude they will work more positively and creatively and with less pressure. Positively approaching homework gets it out of the way quicker and removes the stress.
Step 5. Make yourself available as a tutor:
Offer assistance on how to approach problems but don’t give the answers. If you don’t know something say so and work with them so you learn. Praise them for the level of work they are achieving.
Don’t be afraid to make yourself look foolish – it provides motivation for them to see the work is difficult, and when thay have completed it they get a greater sense of achievement.
Step 6. “Reprogramming” should be done while your child is doing homework, but not when there is any time pressure.
They should be able to stop and start the studying many times to discuss any problems. Initially try it at the weekend but not when they are rushing to go out.
Don’t introduce it as a special time. Your child should just regard it as a normal homework session. You should, talk to them and focus on their resistance to homework. It may not work immediately. It is a process and eventually they will drop or reduce their resistance and find a more positive attitude towards their homework.
Step 7. Be aware that “getting work done” is not the main focus of your time using this approach.
There will be many purposeful stops and starts, as you both explore the best way to approach homework.Let your child express his or her feelings. Discuss and expose all their limiting beliefs and feelings and encourage them to find their own solution.
Children and homework is a difficult mix at the best of times but tackling the real cause of their resistance will lead the a more positive approach and better grades.