Helping with Homework

We all have those moments when our children need our help with their homework. Either they are out of sorts or for whatever reason they don’t understand the assignment or they haven’t started on time.

How do we parents help them without winding up doing their homework for them? Let’s face it, homework can be a pain for us and for our kids, but I suppose that it helps them to cement their school work into their fast-growing brains.

This subject is on my mind because I spent 3 hours today helping my 3 rd grade daughter with her mythology review. She, of course, wanted me to both look up and give her the answers. That’s not really my style, though. I did my own homework when I was in school and expect the same if my kids. To be fair, they mostly do their own at this point. But today, my daughter needed my advice and presence, so that’s what she got.

Here were a few things I did to help my daughter do her own homework with my support:

  1. Listen to her. She was really overwhelmed with these 100 questions. She needed to express her need for my help; for me to stand by her side as the work was done. And she didn’t need me to tell her that this was work she could have done throughout the week.
  2. Calm her down (or don’t put up with the dramatics). She started her homework by crying, fussing and freaking out. I got to stay calm (go me), understanding that it wasn’t directed at me. Constantly reiterating that crying wasn’t going to help her eventually worked. She calmed down considerably about a third of the way through.
  3. Have her read over the questions out loud. For my kids, it helps them a lot to read questions out loud, rather than silently. Both of them are very strong verbally, so this plays to their strengths.
  4. Help her to find the information she needed. All the information was in one book and each section of questions covered only a few pages. We limited our searches to each section and I read ahead, often (perhaps too often), pointing out the paragraphs she needed to read to get the answers. After we did this a few times together, she did a good job figuring out how to do it on her own.
  5. Have her read passages out loud if it was apparent that she wasn’t getting the info through reading quietly. There were several times later in this homework marathon that my girl would quietly read a passage where the answer was, only to insist that she didn’t see it. Rather than blurting out the answer myself, I’d have her read it out loud and she’d get it most of the time. I truly believe she would have gotten it all the time had she paced herself and done a little each day. It was too many hours at one time, so by the end she was wiped out.

While this is undoubtedly not a perfect solution, it works pretty well for us.


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