Answers to Common Questions Parents Have About Homework

Some common questions parents have about homework include how to prevent procrastination, how much should parents help, and how to prevent homework meltdowns. We've got the answers to those questions and more from local experts.

teen girl homeworkHow much should parents help with homework?

Parental support is a key to raising a successful student, but sometimes the line begins to blur regarding how much help is too much, says Pamela Zimmer, M.S., a fourth-grade teacher on Long Island. Parents want their child to do well, so they “help” out as much as possible on homework, projects, and reports. The problem is that the student is not getting the benefit from those assignments: review of material and independent skills assessment. So how much help is too much?

How can I keep my child from procrastinating?
Research shows us that taking short exercise breaks helps our brains stay sharp and fresh. Every 10 to 20 minutes (longer periods for older children) kids can take a 3-minute “brain boost break,” says Dave Beal, manager of the Power Brain Training Centers in Bayside and Syosset. Let them do a simple exercise (pushups, jumping jacks, stretching, etc.) and then return to their work. And if you do the exercises with your child, it will be a fun and healthy way to manage the stress of supervising homework time.

How do I encourage my child to enjoy math?
Above all, never describe yourself as “hopeless” at math, say Rob Eastaway and Mike Askew, authors of Old Dogs, New Math. If you show interest in math, your children will become curious too, and by talking about and playing with math as a natural part of your daily life rather than it being something that’s only done under duress when sitting at the table doing homework, your child is bound to enjoy it more.

How can I prevent a homework meltdown?
When your child is ready to begin homework, help her number the assignments in the order in which they’ll be completed, says Ann K. Dolin, M.Ed., founder and president of Educational Connections Inc. The first item on her to-do list should be the assignment perceived to be the easiest or the most enjoyable. For example, if your mathematically-inclined child comes home with spelling, math, and reading homework, tackle the math assignment first. This simple strategy puts kids in the right frame of mind from the start. They are less likely to procrastinate and are in a positive mindset when they approach harder assignments later on.

How can I make homework fun for my child when I have no interest in what she’s studying?
Parents should know that, first and foremost, education starts at home and children mimic what parents do, says Jayanthi Raghunath, director of the Kumon Math and Reading Centers of Spring Valley and New City. Parents must be totally into their children’s education right from the beginning. Giving kids the support system by being at home to make sure the homework gets done and fostering an environment where children feel like, “Hey, my mom is helping me, my dad is giving me moral support, I should do what I can, the best way I can,” that’s more important than helping with the subject itself.


Also see:

Three Tips for Headache-Free Homework Sessions