Helping Your Elementary School Student with Homework
The importance of homework
At times, it may seem like your child’s homework is endless and with your busy schedule, helping him complete his homework can seem like an impossible task. However, completing homework is an important part of your child’s education; it not only helps him practice what he is learning in the classroom, but it also encourages self-discipline and a sense of responsibility. Elementary school is the foundation for your child’s school experience, and you want to do the best you can to make it a good one.
How you can help your child
- Get to know your child's teacher. Ask your child's teacher about the homework policy and what your role should be in helping with homework, as this may vary from teacher to teacher. Building this relationship with your child’s teacher initially will be helpful if your child is having trouble with a particular subject or assignment. Homework is a way for you to see how your child is learning, and if he is struggling it may indicate a learning difference. His teacher and the school may be able to make arrangements for extra help if it is needed - the earlier your child gets the help he needs, the better.
- Find a good place to set up shop. Work with your child to find a place to do homework that is comfortable, free of distractions like television, and well lit. Younger children may prefer the kitchen or dining room table so that you are nearby for help and support.
- Choose a good time to do homework each day. If your young child is hungry or over-tired he will have a difficult time concentrating on homework and they may need some free time between getting home from school and beginning homework, so sometime between dinner and bedtime might be good. Even if your child completes homework in after-school care, you should still ask about or go over his work in order to stay informed and involved..
- Use an assignment book. Many teachers recommend that students have an assignment book of some kind to keep track of homework, and some schools may even provide one. Helping your child learn to use an assignment book to manage her time will come in handy as she gets older and the homework increases, and this also will help you stay informed about what she is doing in school.
- Provide support and encouragement. Your child may ask for help in doing his homework, but remember that the goals of homework are to build responsibility and develop good study habits. Help your child think through that tough math problem rather than doing it for him so he learns to work on his own. If your child is especially frustrated or having trouble concentrating, take a short break.
- Don't get into battles over homework. If it is a battle to get your child to sit down and do her homework or each night, or every night it is a struggle just to get through one assignment, set up a meeting with your child’s teacher to discuss these challenges and ask for some advice.
- Acknowledge hard work and accomplishments. Post your child's latest spelling or math quiz on the refrigerator, or display her latest art or science project somewhere in the house. Reinforce her hard work by planning special activities once and a while like a movie night on the weekend, or let her invite a friend over to play.
This information was compiled by Sunindia Bhalla, and reviewed by the Program Staff of the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund.