When your child struggles with schoolwork, you may want to jump in and help them solve the problem instead of letting them figure it out on their own.
Although it can be difficult, kids grow by figuring out difficult tasks by themselves. It helps them build the confidence needed to face even more complicated tasks in the future — but there’s a fine line between learning and feeling overwhelmed.
When you choose to be intentional about how much you help with homework, you can encourage learning and ensure your child feels supported.
Give them some downtime
If your child is working through a complicated task or struggling to get started on their homework, offer them a break instead of diving in to help. They may need to run around or get a snack before they can really focus. If they jump in too fast, they may not be able to concentrate or might want to rush through to get to post-homework activities.
Create an environment conducive to learning
Your kid may want to do something other (anything other) than homework, and can you blame them? Consider creating a space at home dedicated to learning where they can complete their homework. Leave some pencils, paper, and any other supplies they might need in this space.
We all do better with a little separation between work and play, and kids are no different. Having a dedicated area with few distractions can encourage kids to focus on their homework efficiently so they can get back to the fun stuff.
Set up a routine for getting it done
Set up a routine for your family’s evenings to help your child get their homework done. Of course, not every night will be the same, but if kids generally understand what to expect when they get home, it can help them get over the hump of sitting down to do their homework.
Some parents may find it useful to know which subjects their kiddo is studying in school and understand their teacher’s expectations. For example, if you know the teacher gives them 20 minutes of reading every night, you can check that it’s happening. Plus, some kids will be hyper-focused on the teacher’s specific instructions. Understanding what those expectations look like is the first step in letting your child know that you’re there to support them.
Provide guidance and support
While you shouldn’t do your child’s homework for them, you can certainly offer some guidance. Instead of giving answers, consider asking them questions to get their wheels turning (“how do you think ‘train’ is spelled?”). If your child is having trouble with directions, teach them how to break problems down into more manageable pieces. This exercise can help your child use logic and figure out how to structure a large project into smaller steps which makes homework seem way less daunting. When kids are able to conquer challenging tasks, it instills self-confidence so they feel like they can work through complicated tasks and questions in the future.
While we don’t like to see our children struggle, this is often where growth and learning happen. You’ve got this!
Layton, Julia. “How much should you help with homework in third grade?” How Stuff Works. How Stuff Works. https://people.howstuffworks.com/how-much-help-with-homework-in-third-grade.htm.