Help Parents Deal with Homework

The strategies outlined in this article will help parents work successfully with their children to finish homework. Discuss these methods with parents at teacher-parent conferences or on the phone.
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Sometimes parents will allow a child to work on homework for several hours or until they finish. This is fine if the performance of the child is consistent or the assignment realistically calls for such a commitment of time. However, in the event that a child is no farther along after one or two hours than after ten minutes into the assignment, you should stop the homework activity. The only thing accomplished by allowing a child to linger on hour after hour with very little performance is increased feelings of inadequacy. The parent may choose to end the work period after a reasonable amount of time and write the teacher a note explaining the circumstances. I am sure that such concerns can be worked out at a meeting with the teacher.

There may be several reasons for such a behavior pattern. First, the child may not have understood the concept in class and therefore will not be able to finish the assignment at home. Second, the child may already have feelings of helpless ness. Consequently, waiting long periods of time may result in the completion of the assignment by the parents. Third, the child may have serious learning difficulties, especially if this is a pattern, and may be overwhelmed by a series of assignments.


Most text books have the chapter questions at the end. When this procedure occurs, many children are not aware of what they should be looking for while reading. Discuss and talk about the questions before children begin reading. By using this strategy, they will know what important information to look for in the chapter.

Some children have a tendency of trying to remember everything. You may want to give them a pencil and suggest that they lightly note a passage or word that sounds like something in one of the questions. This will help many children when they have to skim back over the many pages in the chapter.

Consider placing textbook chapters on tape. Research indicates that the more sensory input children receive, the greater the chance the information will be retained. Therefore, tape record some science or social studies chapters so that children can listen while they read along. This will allow both auditory and visual input of information. From time to time you may want to add a joke, a song, or a message to keep the interest of the child.


Parents will often say to me that they never get frustrated or yell while working with their children on homework. However, if all communication were verbal, then these parents would have a good case. But as we know, nonverbal communication is a large part of overall communication. Since this is possible, many messages, especially negative ones, can be communicated easily without your awareness. Grimaces, body stiffness, sighs, raised eyebrows, and other types of body language are all nonverbal responses. If children are sensitive, they will pick up these messages, which can only add to the tension of the homework relationship. This is extremely important with younger children who cannot distinguish between loss of parental approval and loss of love. Such a state can only add stress to their ability to perform.


Some parents will complete an entire assignment for their children. While the parents' motivation may be helping their child finish a difficult assignment, the end result may be very destructive. Children tend to feel inadequate when a parent finishes homework. First, they feel a sense of failure. Second, they feel a sense of inadequacy since they can never hope to do the assignment as well as mommy or daddy. I have seen parents do an entire social studies term paper. This can only foster increased dependency and feelings of helplessness on the part of children.

If children cannot complete an assignment, and they have honestly tried, write the teacher a note explaining the circumstances. Most teachers will understand the situation.

To recap, before you sit down to work with your children, make sure that they are not exhibiting symptoms that may reflect more serious concerns. When parents attempt to work with children who have severe learning problems or a high tension level, they may be faced with tremendous frustration, anger, and disappointment. Following basic guidelines when helping with homework can result in a more rewarding situation for both parents and children.

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TeacherVision Staff

TeacherVision Editorial Staff

The TeacherVision editorial team is comprised of teachers, experts, and content professionals dedicated to bringing you the most accurate and relevant information in the teaching space.

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