Whether the child is 5 years old or 15 years old parents need to facilitate the child’s own successful completion of homework. It is a fine line between “being involved” in your child’s homework – so stimulating them to independent learning and autonomy – and doing it for them, or providing so much help that you teach them nothing but laziness.
The sort of things that the parent needs to do to facilitate good learning will vary by the child’s temperament, age, liking of the subject and even assignment guidelines. Parent’s should always avoid simply handing children answers, since they will not become independent confident learners.
What should parents do?
1. Communicate. Parent’s should always communicate with their children about homework. This will stimulate the parent-child relationship. While many complain that homework gets in the way of family life it can be a great exercise in honest, respectful conversation and stimulate the sort of “relationship” and open communication that parent and child needs to learn and develop.
2. Praise and appreciate. Parents can be involved by appreciating and admiring and praising children’s homework efforts. This again helps the parent-child relationship. Homework can be a source of warm-fuzzies that the parent lavishes on the child. Parents can make sure that the child is encouraged to do more and more by making homework a source of “parental reward and affection”. While homework wont be the only thing that lead parent’s to praise children it can be a good one.
3. Show interest. Parent’s can be involved in children’s homework by showing interest in the details and allowing the child to “teach” something to the parent. Even if the parent already knows the information they should listen and show interest in what the child is learning. Doing so without judgment and correction will be helpful – allowing the child to take on the “authority role” in the matter.
4. Ask questions. The occasional question may help the child examine beliefs and discover their own misconceptions without actually telling them they are wrong. It can also help them add to or improve a piece of work as they realize that something is missing. You as a parent are helping them indirectly and leaving the final judgment about what to include or change up to them. After all it is their own work.
5. Know expectations of teachers.Parental involvement in homework also means liaising with the teachers to check what the teachers want. Parent’s should know teacher expectations – maybe they do want parents to sit down and make sure a child gets every sum correct; maybe they have to sign off a checklist; or maybe they have to answer an hour long series of questions the child asks about family history. Expectations may be general for the whole year or specific for a particular assignment.
6. Get feedback. Parent’s need to be involved by getting feedback from teachers. Some children may need more parental encouragement than others because of their age or immaturity. Perhaps the parent will have to literally sit down beside the child while they are doing work, or perhaps the teacher thinks a particular child might benefit from access to a library or computer etc. in order to do homework better.
So parents do need to be involved in children’s homework – but it might not be as simple as sitting down and doing ti together!