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Raising Wayland: How Much Homework Help is Appropriate?

How do different families tackle homework?

Now that school is in full session, our children are confronted with various levels of homework. Year after year, I always wonder what is an acceptable amount of parent involvement in the homework process. Should parents help, correct and remind their child to do their homework? At what age should children “figure it out on their own”? Just this past weekend, I had a conversation with my mother in-law, a retired teacher, and I was surprised to hear that she preferred parents to review homework prior to it being turned in. She would be frustrated by messy work or misspelled words. I argued that I heard that homework is a review of what students learn in class and if I help my child do their homework, how will the teacher know that the child is struggling with the concept?

For now, I remind my children to focus on their school work before getting wrapped up in an activity, and I am available to address questions. Though, to be honest, most of the time, my kids do in fact know more than I do at this point. Sometimes, I take a look at their final products and add my two cents, but more often than not, I prefer for them to work independently. No matter how old our children are I know that we all have children with different types of learning styles and parenting techniques when it comes to homework. I would love to hear how your family tackles homework.  

Do you remind your child to do their homework?

When do your children do their homework? After school, after dinner, before activities, etc?

Do you review and edit your children’s homework?

When there is a school project, do you partner together to accomplish it?

If you are a teacher, what are your expectations on homework?

At what age do children begin to work independently on homework?

Brooklyn Lowery October 13, 2011 at 02:24 AM
My mom still talks about the science fair projects she and my dad stayed up late to finish for me. As I got older, they would proofread papers but they left the math homework to tutors ... suffice it to say there's a reason I'm a journalist. But this raises another issue: Should kids do their homework with a tutor? Is that different than parents helping them?
Jenny Harding October 13, 2011 at 02:30 PM
Good question, Brooklyn. I always assumed that a tutor was different because they are helping teach something that is difficult for the child that the parents might not know or have time to teach. We have "easy" homework right now because of the age of our children. But I have to say, Stephanie, that as a teacher I agree with your mother-in-law about reviewing the homework before sending it in. I am really curious about what age kids start doing their homework more independently. I suppose this depends on the personality and work ethic of the child.
Amy Simmons October 17, 2011 at 10:39 AM
My kids are second and fourth grade, and we set up homework time to be mostly independent work time, but I am close by to help with any questions (they usually sit at the kitchen table or counter while I make dinner). For my fourth grader, I always proofread his work when he is done and work with him until it's his best possible work, BUT at some point in the first month or two of the school year I touch base with the teacher (usually the timing of the first parent-teacher conference works well for this) to make sure that this approach works for the teacher, and that he/she knows we are helping our son "polish" up his work before it comes in. I've always found that grammar/punctuation editing as part of homework is preferred by the teacher, but if there is a concept that I really have to work with a child on for them to be able to finish their homework, then I send a note in with the homework letting the teacher know that that piece needed more extensive tutoring at home, so perhaps more review would help in-class. As far as when my kids do homework, they are actually very good about this and know that as soon as they come in the house they sit down and get it done. This could be after playing outside for a half-hour, after a two-hour baseball practice that started right after school, etc., but basically it just means that they don't start playing with something else until homework is done. Projects are another story and require MUCH more parental guidance!

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