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Teachers speak: Best ways to help kids with homework

Your child is struggling with her math problems once again. What do you do? Offer a small bit of direction and let her do it on her own, even if she does it incorrectly? Or sit with her and walk her through each step? For the most part, teachers agree that there’s a right way and a wrong way to help with homework. Here’s what they have to say.

Teacher with student

Pick the homework location and time

Choose a homework location that is free from distractions such as TV or the phone. Make sure you have supplies accessible as well as resources such as a dictionary, pencils and paper. Set a regular time for homework based on your own schedule of activities. Miss Rigby, a kindergarten teacher, encourages going to the library for additional materials as opposed to turning immediately to the Internet.

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Set aside a specific time with your child every week to talk about upcoming projects, school events and larger assignments. If you know your child has a deadline coming up, they’ll be more apt not to procrastinate and get their work done on time.

Monitor homework

Use orientation night or schedule a meeting with your child’s teacher to go over the school’s homework policy. This is a good time to talk about the teacher’s expectations for a parent’s involvement in homework. Fourth-grade teacher Claire Holden suggests you look over completed assignments carefully — and don’t be afraid to correct them. Know when larger assignments are due, and encourage your child not to procrastinate.

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Offer guidance

If there’s one thing that teachers uniformly suggest, it’s to watch for frustration in your child. Combat this by helping them get and stay organized, encouraging good study habits and talking about assignments that are not clearly defined or are giving your child trouble. Praise her for her accomplishments, and don’t consider a failure of one assignment as the failure of the entire school year. There’s plenty of time to make it up.

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Talk to the teachers

Know the best way to get a hold of your child’s teacher if you have questions. Whether it’s through email, a phone call or a face-to-face meeting, don’t be afraid to approach the teacher with any concerns you may have.

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Mary Lambert, a teacher for more than 20 years, encourages parents to reinforce what the child has learned in school in other practical ways. “I always provide a weekly newsletter updating parents on what will be covered that week so that they can find ways to talk about them at home, outside of the school setting.”

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Avoid doing it for them

The final piece of advice from teachers is to always avoid doing the homework for your child. This discourages the child and leaves him feeling like is work isn’t good enough.

Help your children with their homework the right way by following the advice of teachers.

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