By Erin Gibson
As students move throughout elementary school and toward middle school, the role of the parent evolves — especially when it comes to homework. It’s critical that parents limit their involvement in homework but don’t back away completely.
One of the most common questions we receive from parents at Huntington is how much or how little parents should be helping with homework. While much depends on the student and his or her specific challenges and needs, we advise parents to encourage independence.
HERE ARE SOME TIPS TO HELP YOU DETERMINE THE ROLE YOU SHOULD PLAY DURING HOMEWORK TIME:
1. Put your child in charge. Ask which assignments your child wants to work on first, but let your child take the lead. Make sure your child is clear on what he or she needs to do (by reading directions together if needed or having your child describe assignments to you), but do not get overly involved. Instead, be on standby for help. As your child moves through elementary school, make sure they begin to take full ownership of their school work and grades.
2. Build time management skills. At a young age, children have a harder time using their time effectively and wisely, so it’s important for parents to establish a homework routine that involves planning out all work sessions carefully and prioritizing homework assignments from hardest to easiest, from most to least involved. Time management is one of the keys to homework success, especially as assignments become more involved and difficult.
3. Help your child develop a solid organizational system. Good organization goes hand in hand with time management, and students who are both organized and good managers of time perform better in school. Help your child adopt a system of organization that is easy to maintain. Keep inbox trays or folders in a central place where your child can drop papers for you and file graded homework that’s no longer needed. Being organized will help your child avoid distractions that can cause issues during homework time.
4. Empower your child to do things his or her way. Your child might not always do things the way you would, and that’s okay. If your child prefers to study with music and snacks and his or her sessions seem to be productive, that is fine. Some children might need a break after school before diving into homework while others might want to get right to it.
5. Get an idea from your child’s teachers how much homework is reasonable. They can guide you on what to expect as far as amount of homework and time it should take. They also can share signs to watch for that your child is spinning his or her wheels. Not all work time is productive, after all. Monitor how your child works and how productive his or her time is.
6. Teach your child to ask for help. As you build homework independence and hold yourself back from stepping in and making homework your responsibility, it’s important to remind your child to be his or her own advocate. Your child needs to be self-aware enough to identify when help is needed. When he or she doesn’t understand homework, tell your child to ask questions in class and reach out to the teacher.
If homework is a daily stressor that causes your child significant anxiety, there may be something else going on behind the scenes. As subjects become more difficult and school becomes more challenging, these problems are likely to grow. Take appropriate action to pinpoint the problem and develop a targeted program to help your child develop homework independence and become the best student possible.
Erin Gibson is operations manager with Huntington Learning Center. Reach her at (228) 832-1226 or GibsonE@HLCmail.com.