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Know your stuff: Tips for helping kids with homework

As a parent, you want to help your child succeed. When you see your child struggling with homework, how can you help without doing the homework for your child?

Mother helping daughter with Homework

make a difference in your child’s success

As a parent, you want to help your child succeed. When you see your child struggling with homework, how can you help without doing the homework for your child?

When children bring homework home from school, parents play a crucial role — not only in making sure they complete the work, but that they do it to the best of their abilities. Not sure how to help? Here are some tips on how you, as a parent, can help your child find success with his homework.

Set a regular schedule

With busy schedules, it can be difficult for kids — and even more for parents — to schedule regular times each night for homework. But Julie Rebboah, founder of Lightning Bug Learning, says it’s important to find a time when both parents and children are free to concentrate on homework, whether that’s before dinner, after dinner or in the morning.

“A regular routine takes the guesswork out of when homework will be completed, creating less stress for everyone,” she says.

Support, but don’t do

Parents who tell their student, “Let’s figure out how you can solve this homework problem” can teach their students to become independent, self-directed learners, says Chris Tobias, director of educational excitement at School Skills. Parents do this through coaching their kids on how to research, break complex problems into smaller pieces and create a solution.

“And yes — it’s a lot harder to coach your student than it is to just give them the answer,” Tobias says. “The long-term payoff, however, is a student who can learn just about anything.”

Get rid of distractions

Parents can help their children develop good homework skills by creating a conducive homework environment, says Lucia Sinovoi, director of academics for Kaplan Kids.

“Turning off the television not only eliminates distraction, it sends a signal that the work is important,” she says.

Supplement homework

If children need additional support with their studies, Rebboah suggests using learning tools that can help, such as multiplication rap CDs, flash cards, dictionaries, thesauruses, maps and books on CD.

“Hands-on learning tools can really further understanding of worksheet-type homework,” she says.

Check it over

Sinovoi recommends checking over a child’s homework, making sure it’s complete and if it’s a subject like math, that it’s correct.

However, she advises to be selective when checking over your child’s work. A child may tune out your suggestions if you suggest too much too often.

“In subjective areas like writing, think twice before you point out how the child might improve, say, her explanation of acid rain,” she says. “A little goes a long way. The child may feel that her essay is just fine, and won’t see why you want her to sharpen her topic sentences.”

If you want to help your child with pronouns or tenses, however, stick to that and only that for a while, Sinovoi says. “Otherwise she may come to feel that nothing she does is good enough.”

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