Kids & Company Blog

Homework: The fine line between helping them and doing it for them

As children progress through school, homework starts to pour in. Some children are able to finish their homework at their after-school programs while others have a hard time focusing after a long day of concentrating at school.

By the time homework makes it home, many of us are tempted to over-help our children in order to get the work done more quickly and off of the check-list for the evening.  However, our children aren't benefiting from this type of "help". Ideally, your child should have a space they can sit and concentrate with no distractions or disruptions. This definitely does not include the kitchen table when the TV room is just around the corner. I can almost guarantee you'll find a child crawling in to see what's on the screen.

We've always had desks in each of our children's rooms as well as a small office set up as adult area but that also doubles as an alternative study area for the kids. Some children get far too distracted with the toys and books in their own rooms, so they need a different work space.

If our children asked for help, my husband and I always come to their side and encourage them to problem solve on their own while providing them with small hints at ways to resolve their question. We've always been careful to not just tell them the answers.  This doesn't facilitate learning; it simply results in more questions since they don’t know how they arrived at their answer.

In our family, we’ve asked our children to keep agendas and write every assignment, task and test in there as soon as they know the date. At the beginning of the week, we sit down with each child and encourage them to plan out their schedule and how they'll study or prepare for assignments and tests. This teaches them time management skills as well as how difficult things can become when left to the last minute. Undoubtedly, we have had many children leave assignments to the night before they are due. We have helped them (a little bit) but the goal has always been to have them understand that the decisions they make, such as going out to play basketball instead of drawing their map, leads to a stressful evening of last-minute homework or studying.

We feel that this kind of help – encouragement + a few helpful hits + ongoing support with time management skills and allowing several stumbles along the way – have really benefitted them in the long run.

Have you had any homework experiences yet?