How to Help Children with Their Homework (Without Doing It Yourself)
Homework often produces major headaches, both for children and parents. Many families question the high demands that their children receive through homework, as they consider the time they should devote to studying at home to be excessive after having long school days. Although this point is debatable, it’s true that homework’s an interesting way to encourage responsibility in children. In this article, we’ll offer you some recommendations to help children with their homework, but without doing it yourself.
You may be familiar with this scene: Your child starts to do their homework and finds completing it difficult. Then, you leave the meal prepping for a moment and go over to help them. You hear their hesitant responses and realize that they won’t be able to complete the exercises before dinner’s ready. As you’re all very tired and hungry, you opt to take the pencil or give them the answers. To be honest, it’s understandable, but it’s important that children solve their homework independently.
Debates regarding homework
There are different points of view from teachers or educational psychologists regarding the amount and complexity of homework for children to do outside the classroom. At the same time, family dynamics are also very diverse. Some children have parents who work all day and aren’t available to assist them with their homework. Others have more free time to devote to their children. In addition, each child is different and approaches their studies in a particular way. In short, it’s difficult to generalize, as the range of possibilities is wide.
What’s clear is that under no circumstances is it positive that their parents or other adults take responsibility for their children’s homework. In this case, we would only feed their insecurity and sense of inadequacy. In contrast, it’s beneficial to accompany them indirectly through motivation and thus encourage learning.
“The family’s help should be limited to encouraging learning, teaching time management and autonomous problem solving.”
– Moè –
Recommendations regarding how to help children with their homework
As we’ve said before, it’s essential that children solve their homework independently. This doesn’t mean, however, that we shouldn’t interfere in the least, but that our help should be focused on motivation and be proportional to their needs. Let’s see some recommendations.
1. Help them create a routine
Establishing a time and space to do homework is essential in order for it to become a habit. This way, you’ll avoid conflicts every time your child doesn’t feel like doing their homework. Remember that what is repeated, is reinforced! It’s important that you agree together on the time to do homework. For example, it could be right after school, after snack, or at a time that’s convenient for your family’s routine.
2. Help them manage their time
School homework is a great tool to learn to know and manage their own time. The important thing isn’t that he spends as much time as possible studying, but that they learn. You’ve probably heard it many times: Quality’s better than quantity. In this regard, you can guide them in the planning of tasks and the prioritization of some over others. Also, keep in mind that depending on their age, they’ll be able to maintain their attention and concentration for a specific period of time. Remember that they’ll also need time to play and distract themselves.
3. Take an interest in their schoolwork
Think of it this way: Your child’s occupation is to be a student. That’s their main responsibility. They spend most of their day at school and practically their entire world is associated with it: Classes, teachers, classmates, and homework. That’s why it’s important to let them know that you care about what happens to them and that you’re interested in their homework. You can ask them what they’ve learned and if they liked their homework. This way, you can have a conversation while going over the content indirectly.
4. Don’t expect your child to answer all the exercises adequately
Logically, your child will be more interested in some curricular subjects than in others. Thus, they’ll have an easier time with some tasks and will make certain mistakes in others. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s valid to turn in incomplete homework or homework with mistakes so that teachers can evaluate their learning process and adjust the teaching method as many times as necessary. So, allow your child to make mistakes in the exercises and learn from them.
5. Explain to them the value of what they learn through homework
Clearly stating the real value of what they practice will fuel motivation when it comes to homework. Then, once they understand the purpose, they’ll be able to give concrete and valuable meaning to their studies. You can think together about how you can use what you’ve learned in everyday life and why it’s important.
“Just like any other aspect of education, students need to understand why they’re learning something and how it will benefit them in the real world. Thus, if students understand how homework can affect their performance, their attitude toward it would improve, as would their interest, perceived usefulness, and motivation.”
– Regueiro, B., Suárez, N., Valle, A., Núñez, J. C. and Rosário, P –
6. Guide them through questions
To help children with their homework and support their learning without taking over and doing it for them, you can guide them by means of questions. For example, in reading comprehension exercises, you could ask: What’s happening, or what did this character do? Before explaining, help them reach their own conclusions. This way, you’ll boost their critical and analytical thinking, which teaches them to think.
Children should solve their homework, but we can assist them
When we help children with their homework, it allows us to save time to deal with other household obligations or perform other activities, but doing their homework for them is detrimental to the child’s learning. For this reason, it’s best for children to learn to do their homework themselves, although we can assist them or guide them when difficulties arise. As we’ve seen, we can help them create a routine, manage their time, and guide them with questions so that they can solve the different exercises. In short, it’s appropriate to accompany them in their learning process.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Hernández-Prados,. MA, & Gil-Noguera., JA. (2022). El papel de la familia en la realización de los deberes escolares. Revista Electrónica Educare, 26(2), 291-308. https://dx.doi.org/10.15359/ree.26-2.16
- Moè, A., Katz, I. y Alesi, M. (2018). Scaffolding for motivation by parents, and child homework motivations and emotions: Effects of a training programme. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 88(2), 323-344. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjep.12216
- Regueiro, B., Suárez, N., Valle, A., Núñez, J. C. y Rosário, P. (2015). La motivación e implicación en los deberes escolares a lo largo de la escolaridad obligatoria. Revista de Psicodidáctica, 20(1), pp. 47-63. Recuperado de https://www.redalyc.org/pdf/175/17532968002.pdf
- Valdés-Cuervo ÁA, Grijalva-Quiñonez CS, Parra-Pérez LG. Creencias motivacionales de las madres y el propósito de los estudiantes de aprender en los deberes escolares. Su relación con el apoyo a la autonomía y el control. Revista de Psicodidáctica. 2020;25:100–108. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psicod.2020.05.002