While you want your children to succeed in school, there’s a fine line between guiding them in the right direction and doing their homework for them.
Janet Ricciardelli, principal of Harrison Public School in Toronto says, “Students naturally benefit from the continuing learning process at home, as homework provides a sense of structure and routine. Taking responsibility for their learning and adopting a disciplined approach to homework is something that students will carry with them through their years of schooling.”
Teacher Lorna Costantini, who writes for Classroom Blogging, says it’s natural for parents to want to help their children succeed and do well in school — especially in today’s economy. However, too much help can hurt. “Children need to learn how to make mistakes, because if they don’t know how to fail they won’t understand how to move forward,” she says. Therefore, make sure you let your children do their own homework and simply show them the right path by helping them find information resources without giving them too many answers.
ABC Life Literacy Canada is a non-profit organization on a mission to increase Canadians’ literacy skills. “It’s important to make learning part of daily life by showing your children that the learning process is fun, by including topics that interest them,” says the organization’s former communications manager, Nikki Luscombe. She suggests the following 10 tips for helping kids with homework:
- Develop a daily routine. Set aside a specific time each day/evening for homework.
- Provide a quiet, well-lit working area with basic school supplies.
- Understand your child’s learning style. This will help you develop a personalized homework plan for your child.
- Help your kids break projects down into smaller steps. It’s not uncommon for kids to get overwhelmed with big assignments. Work on pieces throughout the week and do the hard parts on the weekend.
- Talk with your child’s teacher. Become aware of his or her method of teaching. Help your child by using familiar terms and examples.
- Don’t save learning for the homework hour. Make it a part of daily life.
- Take a break. If your child gets frustrated or distracted with homework, allow a short break. If this frustration continues, talk with your child’s teacher to determine if a tutor might be needed.
- Talk it over. To reinforce comprehension and memory skills, take 10 minutes to talk about the stories you’ve read together.
- Show your children that the skills they are learning relate to real life. If your child is learning math, for example, balance your cheque book together or have him or her count out change for you.
- Teach your children to be independent. Offer to help them with difficult homework challenges, but then let them complete the remainder on their own.
“Communication between home and school can make all the difference,” says Ricciardelli. “Parents can help by providing a consistent time and place and setting clear expectations around homework in general.”
Rodd Lucier is a teacher, father and blogger at The Clever Sheep. He says, “Homework is often seen by children as a penalty, such as when parents say their child can’t watch TV or attend soccer practice unless homework is completed.” Instead, he suggests making sure kids understand the rewards of doing homework — better understanding and better grades, for example. He also believes learning should happen everywhere. For example, ask your child to help with simple arithmetic or reading labels at the grocery store. And he recommends “modeling what learning is” by being seen to read newspapers and books, and by asking questions yourself.
Elizabeth Sharp of Pathways to Education, founded in 2001 to help children from disadvantaged neighbourhoods stay in school, suggests busy parents connect their children to community-based tutoring programs or homework clubs to supplement the help they receive at home and to give them the extra academic support of working alongside their peers. Additionally, she recommends encouraging your children by praising their efforts, rather than focusing completely on the grades they achieve.
We also invite you to share any comments or suggestions you may have on how to help children with their homework below.
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