How Can I Help My Student Be Successful With His/Her Homework?
[Part of the "Q & A for Parents of Middle School Students" series]
Middle school is a time for students to develop independent work and study habits that will sustain their learning as they get older. You may have convinced your middle schooler that there is a reason why they need to do their homework, but that doesn't mean the work is completed accurately or with the thoughtfulness required. You want your student to gain something from the work they do at home. Helping with homework is not the only way to support your child's efforts. What you do when it is ‘homework time' at your house can be much more powerful than the assistance you provide. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
- Watch less TV yourself, model and encourage reading instead.
- Keep the student on task by re-directing them if they head for the TV, phone or computer.
- Create a quiet environment for your student to study without distractions.
- Set a regular homework routine that works for both the student and parents.
- Praise effort/achievements.
- Provide necessary equipment (calculator, paper, pencils, erasers, etc.)
- Work on your own projects, write letters or pay bills to model how you handle your homework.
- Monitor quality and completion of homework.
- Let students make mistakes and don't do the work for them - we learn from our mistakes!
- Build breaks into the homework routine (i.e. 10 minutes every hour)
- Don't have your student work on homework if they are feeling, anxious, angry or rushed. If you are helping, you'll want to start early as well so you're relaxed!
- Help your child find ways to get answers to things that confuse them by using resources; internet, textbook, or phone a friend who does well in the class.
Bean, R. (1991). How to help your children succeed in school. New York, NY: Price Stern Sloan Publishing.
FINE (Family Involvement Network of Educators). (2004). Harvard Family Research Project website. Graduate School of Education, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. (http://www.gse.harvard.edu/hfrp/projects/fine/fineresources.html)
Hieligman, D. (1999). The New York Public Library kid’s guide to research. New York: Scholastic.
Paulu, N. (1996). Helping your child with homework. Kidsource OnLine, Inc.. Santa Clara County, CA. (http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content/homework.html)
Patchogue-Medford Congress of Teachers, Congress of Teachers Website, (2002). Patchogue, NY. (http://www.pmct.org/helpsucceed/homework.html)
Spolton, S & Spolton, C. (1998). Topmarks Education Website. UK. (http://www.topmarks.co.uk/Parents/Homework/aspx)
Weir, K. (2002). A parent’s guide to school projects, papers, and presentations. Los Angeles, CA: Mars Publishing.
Debra Eckerman Pitton, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Middle Level Education at Gustaus Adolphus College in St. Peter , MN and consults with school districts across the country on issues of mentoring and middle school education. firstname.lastname@example.org