How Much Should Parents Help With Homework?
You know the drill - your child comes home and tells you that they have to build a boat. By tomorrow. That will float and carry a brick across a river. And it’s due TOMORROW!
What do you do? Are you the homework fairy - gathering resources, planning an attack, and putting the fan up on the dining room table to set the glue overnight?
Or are you the note-writer? “Johnny was ill last night/we had a family dinner/the dog ate his homework, please excuse him”. Or the “Well you will just have to cop it tomorrow” type?
As a parent, the first instinct is to rescue your child and to bolster their confidence at school by completing homework for them. The second instinct is to bail them out and the third is to let your child deal with the consequences.
Hot Tip: Your child’s teacher would probably prefer that you didn’t help - it gives them a much clearer picture of your child’s true ability, which can help them personalise their teaching for your child.
- Get out of the helping habit by having open lines of communication with your child and their teacher.
- Know what day your child receives their homework tasks and help them plan their time.
- Help your child to stick to the plan every day.
- If a last minute task slips through and it simply has to be done, just ask yourself if you are truly helping your child learning anything, or if you are simply protecting them from the consequences of their actions.
But what to do when you can’t help?
For a lot of parents, it can be hard to help with homework, when you have forgotten the basics yourself – like knowing your pronouns from your clauses, how to structure an historical narrative and converting a mixed fraction where the denominator is larger than-the-child-that-brought-the-problem-home and turn it into a percentage?! These moments are about as fun as a burnt dinner.
Educators say the basics of homework are that it should have a clear purpose, include quality tasks, and should not include new material (students should know what they are learning). It should also be developmentally appropriate and tailored to its audience. And, most importantly, it should not jeopardise the right of children to enjoy a balanced lifestyle.
If you don’t know how to help, and Professor Google isn’t giving you the answers, here are a few tips:
- Stay calm. If it can wait until the next school day, let it wait. It’s best that a child understands a concept correctly the first time, so ask the teacher to go over the concept at school.
- Ask the teacher to provide some completed examples, with working out included.
- Try online maths and literacy websites, specifically created for Australian students, such as: