Homework Helpers


So You Don’t Work Harder Than Your Child!

  • Set aside a time each day for family learning.  Set aside at least 30 minutes, devoted to “family brain cell development.”  During this time, there should be no TV, video games, computer games, etc.

  • Model your own excitement for learning by reading a book, writing letters, etc.
  • Your child may learn by doing his homework, reading about something he loves, writing stories, etc.
  • Help only when your child truly wants it.  Some parents make the mistake of forcing help upon their kids.  This only creates frustration, anger, and kids who believe they can’t learn without their parents’ help.
  • Help only when there’s an absence of anger or frustration.  When either you or your child gets frustrated or angry, learning becomes associated with frustration and anger.
  • Help only when your child can describe what the teachers said.  This ensures that your child continues to believe that it’s important to pay attention to teachers.
  • Unfortunately, some kids learn that it’s best to “tune-out” at school and let their parents do all of the teaching at home.
  • Move away from your child before he/she “gets it.”  Some children believe they can only learn something, or “get it,” when an adult is in the same room…or is guiding them every inch of the way. 
  • To prevent this dependence, avoid falling into the habit of sitting at the table as your child does his homework, especially when they are on the brink of learning something new.           

The Cardinal Rule for Helping:

Never Work Harder Than Your Child.

Charles Fay, Ph.D., & Jim Fay

The Love and Logic Institute, Inc.

Encourage Your Child to Sort Homework Into Two Groups

Do you feel that helping with homework takes all your time?  Here’s one way to help your child and get back some of your life.

At the state of study time, have your child divide the work into two groups.  One is “I can do it Myself.”  The other is “I need help.”

Have your child start with the things he can do alone.  Then later, you can be there to work with flash cards, quiz spelling words, or other things he can’t do alone.

You’ll boost your child’s confidence in his own ability to do the work.  You’ll also find that you can spend less time on your child’s work and more on the things you have to do.

Parents make the difference!

Source:  “Ten Homework Tips,” Schwab Foundation for Learning.  

Provide Homework Help By Asking Some Questions


Children whose parents are involved in their education do better in school.   A key way to be involved is to help your child with homework.  But helping doesn’t mean doing your child’s homework.  What you can do is ask a lot of questions.   For many children, getting organized to do homework is a tough job.  Here’s a checklist of questions to ask your child every day that will help her focus on the job at hand.  

Ask your child:

  • What’s your assignment? What homework do you have today?
  • Do you understand the assignment?  (If not, ask:  Does your school have a homework hotline?  or Can you call a classmate for help?)
  • When is your assignment due?  Is the assignment something you should finish today?  Or is it a long-term project like a science fair project?  Write down the due dates on your calendar.  
  • If the project is long-term, what steps will you take to complete your assignment?
  • Do you need special resources?  Do you need access to a computer? If your child needs a trip to the library before writing a book report, decide when you’ll go.
  • Do you need special supplies like colored pencils, graph paper or poster board?  

Ask yourself:

  • Does my child have a quiet place to work with good lighting?
  • Is it stocked with basic homework supplies such as paper, pencils, ruler, scissors and a dictionary?
  • Does my child have organizational tools?  Does he need an assignment calendar or file folders?
  • Do I regularly look over my child’s homework?
  • Do I review and discuss with my child comments the teacher makes on his homework?
  • Do I congratulate my child on a job well done?  

Then help your child make a plan for doing the work.  As she finishes each assignment, have her put it in her book bag.  Before bed each night, have her check the list to make sure she has everything she’ll need for school the next day.  

Parents make the difference!

Source:  Learning Partners:  A Guide to Educational Activities for Families  

Source:  “Dealing With Homework,” The Washington Post

 Help Your Child Get the Most Out of Homework

Some parents never do anything about their child’s homework.  Others get so involved that they actually do the child’s work themselves.  Parents have an important role to play in homework.  Here are some tips on how you can help your child with this important part of school:

Set a regular homework time.  Designate a quiet place free from distractions.

Set limits on TV time, especially if it cuts into study time.  Use your VCR to record favorite programs.  Then your child can settle down to work knowing she won’t miss her favorite show.

Check to see that your child has finished homework.  Be sure finished work gets back to school.

Read any teacher comments written on your child’s work.  These are a good way to see what your child needs to work on.

Learn how your child learns.  This is one of the most important ways parents can help.  Some children need complete quiet.  Others need soft music.  Some like to move around. As you see what works for your child, you can help her create her own successful study atmosphere.

Stay in touch with your child’s teacher.  Look over the homework each day.  If your child is having trouble with homework, let the teacher know.  

Parents make the difference!

Source:  Helping Your Child with Homework  

Help Keep Children Focused On Homework


To do well in school, children must be able to pay attention.  They must focus on a task and not get distracted.

The best way to help a child who is easily distracted is to give him one-on-one help.  Sit with your child every night.  Help him follow a daily schedule.  Also:

  • Help your child get organized.  Keep school supplies in one place.  Make a file for each subject.
  • Make “To Do” lists each day.  Include school and non-school tasks.  Have your child check off each task as he completes it.
  • Time your child’s work sessions.  Set a timer for a short time – say two to five minutes.  Gradually increase the time until he can concentrate for 30 minutes.  Take one-minute breaks between timings.
  • Give nonverbal cues.  Simply raise your hand.  Or point to his assignment when you see your child has lost focus.
  • Play calming music.  Put on soft classical or “New Age” music during rest time.  Also see if music can help your child block out distractions while studying.
  • Use breathing exercises to help your child relax and focus.  Have him breath in and out slowly five to ten times

Parents make the difference! 

Source:  E. M. Schwartz,

 How to Double Your Child’s Grades in School, 1997