Helping Kids With Homework: Creating Independence

by | Mar 10, 2020 | School, Tips

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How can you get homework help for kids? Or is it homework help for parents? We all have dreams that our school aged children, will sit at the table or desk, study and do their homework completely independently, while we as parents have a few moments to ourselves.  Everyone is happy and feeling accomplished.  

girl at table writing

In reality, our lives are busy.  We are running from one activity to another and trying to throw together dinner while your child is constantly asking you to help them with algebraic equations that you haven’t seen since high school.  Or worse yet, they refuse to do their homework, may be throwing tantrums, or even crying because they are frustrated and don’t know what to do.

We question why teachers think homework is a good idea.  Why do kids need to practice their multiplication facts at home?  Can’t they do this at school?  We already have so much to do as parents.  

Research is definitely divided on this topic, and some of you may be lucky enough to be in a school district that doesn’t assign any homework, while many of us are just trying to survive the night and relearn what a hypotenuse is.  

Here are some ways for you as a parent to help your child be more independent with their homework and for them to feel confident in their own skills.

How to set your child up for success with Homework

Here are three great habits to start with your child as young as possible.

1.  Location – Find a spot in your house that can be free of most distractions yet close to your proximity so that you can help if they need your support.  For our family, we started doing homework at the dining room table.  I could easily be making supper or working on my own projects within a short distance from them.  

2.  Schedule – As much as possible, have a consistent schedule for them to do their homework.  Do they start as soon as they walk in the door?  Or do they get a 30 minute break after school and have to start shortly after that?  Or is this started right after a family dinner?  It doesn’t have to be the exact same time (remember many activities, etc. will disrupt the time) but it is best to have a flow to your evening as a family.  It then becomes a routine and you won’t have the struggle to remind them to do their homework.

3.  Time Management – Have you ever been notified by your my your child that a huge project is due at school tomorrow?  This can dramatically increase your anxiety and theirs in a pinch.  Or does your child get overwhelmed with the amount of work that they have to accomplish in one night?  They need to learn time management skills and they may need your help with this.  Create a plan together and help them determine where they should start and what they can accomplish in bite size chunks.   Perhaps they have to work on a big project completing small taks every day.  Or if the tasks seem overwhelming, start with small steps that they can get done on their own and start to build their confidence.  Pretty soon that big project will no longer seem impossible.

AnXious About Homework? 5 Ways to Combat Homework Angst

Your Role As A Parent – Provide Support

1.  Let your children make mistakes – Do not correct your child’s homework.  It may be tempting and you think that they would be better if your child got it right the first time.  Children need to feel the consequences of making mistakes.  Support them and let them know that it is OK to fail.  That is how we learn!

2.  Wait for your child to ask for help – As parents we sometimes want to sit right next to our child and help them through all their work.  Step back.  Make yourself busy, always letting them know that you will help them no matter what.  They just need to ask.  This sets them up well for knowing when and how to ask any adults for help.  Self advocacy is a skills children are missing.

3.  Don’t create conflict – Have you ever noticed when you tell your kids to do something they don’t want to?  But if they decide on their own, they are more engaged?  Don’t let yourself turn homework into any kind of battle.  Step back.  This will allow your child to find their inner motivation to get it done.  Children need ownership of their work, and sometimes as parents we want them to do well, and we know they can do it.  If they don’t do it our way, it can turn into a power struggle.  Let them find what is best for them.

4.  Be patient – Self Advocacy, Inner Motivation, Acceptance of Mistakes….These are big skills for children to learn.  You need to be patient as a parent and let it happen.  Start at a young age and these skills become easier with time.  Your child will be fine if they miss a few assignments or they need to redo some work.  Eventually they will learn how to be independent in their own planning and time management. 

FREE chart for Homework Motivation

When parents become too involved

As parents, it is easy to become too involved in homework.  When this happens and you take over or start to do the homework for your child, you send them a clear message.  Kids believe that they can’t do it.  And it doesn’t matter what you say, your actions are what your children are listening to.

Kids need to know what that failure feels like.  They need to struggle with homework to understand their own role and to find that internal motivation themselves.  They need to understand themselves and what they need to concentrate and get the work done.  

So when it seems like the easiest answer is for you to “help” your child and do their homework for them…take a deep breath, back away and let your child take the lead.  Support them when they need it, but let them feel the pride when they accomplish it on their own.

Girl reading and writing at desk

What do you do to make Homework successful? Share your tips in our Facebook Group here!

Feel like you need more help with your child and homework? Schedule a free consultation with a Parent Coach today!

By Lisa Edwards, M.Ed., Parent Coach

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