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Help With Homework - Surf Net Parents

Help With Homework

“My children were such fun – until homework entered the picture.”

Anonymous Parent Homework is necessary to reinforce what kids learn during the day, according to educators, but it can drive a wedge between parents and children at times. What can be done to change that? Parents Anonymous was a godsend to me many […]

February 26, 2011

Homework is a part of life for someone in school, and learning how to successfully do homework from a young age is a big part of doing well academically for your whole life. The following are some of the secrets to homework success: Make it part of the routine. If a child makes doing homework […]

November 20, 2010

When you are a teacher, you need to use everything at your disposal to assist you in getting your lessons across. With the Internet, this is simpler than ever. There are plenty of tools and resources created specifically for teachers and students to make the learning process more interactive and even fun, no matter what […]

Every parent is familiar with the homework issue. Some children handle their homework load well while others have a tough time of it. Actually, there are four main things a parent should consider when planning homework time. 1. Homework Assignments. Teachers now have children keep special parent folders placed in a backpack or school bag. […]

Fall is a great time of year. The kids are going back to school, mornings are crisp and the air is fresh, and the leaves are beginning to put on a show. However, with fall also comes an ongoing power struggle between parents and their children over homework. Normally, parents are excellent at setting the […]

The academic school year is almost beginning, and you need to get your child ready. What should you do in order to be prepared for the school year ahead? Consider the following: 1. Backpack. Of course, this is one of the first things that comes to mind when preparing for school is a backpack. However, […]

Helping Your Teen With Homework

Helping Your Teen With Homework

en español Ayudar a su hijo adolescente con los deberes escolares

During the middle- and high-school years, homework gets more intense and grades start to matter more.

At the same time, teens face a lot of other big changes. They're adjusting to the physical and emotional effects of puberty, while busy social lives and sports commitments gain importance, and many also take part-time jobs.

Parents can play a crucial role in helping teens handle these challenges and succeed in school by lending a little help, support, and guidance, and by knowing what problems demand their involvement and which ones require them to hang back.

Setting Up Shop

Make sure your teen has a quiet, well-lit, distraction-free place to study. The space should be stocked with paper, pencils, a calculator, dictionary, thesaurus, and any other necessary supplies. It should be away from distractions like TVs, ringing phones, and video games.

Your teen may prefer to retreat to a private space to work rather than study surrounded by parents and siblings. Grant that independence, but check in from time to time to make sure that your teen hasn't gotten distracted.

If your teen needs a computer for assignments, try to set it up in a common space, not in a bedroom, to discourage playing video games, chatting with or emailing friends, or surfing the Internet for fun during study time. Also consider parental controls. available through your Internet service provider (ISP), and software that blocks and filters any inappropriate material.

Find out which sites teachers are recommending and bookmark them for easy access. Teach your teen how to look for reliable sources of information and double-check any that look questionable.

A Parent's Supporting Role

When it comes to homework, be there to offer support and guidance, answer questions, help interpret assignment instructions, and review the completed work. But resist the urge to provide the right answers or complete assignments.

It can be difficult to see your kids stressed out over homework, especially when there's a test or important deadline looming. But you can help by teaching them the problem-solving skills they need to get through their assignments and offering encouragement as they do.

More tips to help make homework easier for your teen:

  • Plan ahead. Regularly sit down with your teen to go over class loads and make sure they're balanced. If your teen has a particularly big workload from classes, you may want to see if you can shuffle the daily schedule so that there's a study hall during the day or limit after-school activities. Teachers or guidance counselors might have some perspective on which classes are going to require more or less work.
  • Establish a routine. Send the message that schoolwork is a top priority with ground rules like setting a regular time and place each day for homework to be done. And make it clear that there's no TV, phone calls, video game-playing, etc. until homework is done and checked.
  • Instill organization skills. No one is born with great organizational skills — they're learned and practiced over time. Most kids first encounter multiple teachers and classrooms in middle school, when organization becomes a key to succeeding. Give your teen a calendar or personal planner to help get organized.
  • Apply school to the "real world." Talk about how what teens learn now applies outside the classroom, such as the importance of meeting deadlines — as they'll also have to do in the workplace — or how topics in history class relate to what's happening in today's news.
Homework Problems

Especially in the later grades, homework can really start to add up and become harder to manage. These strategies can help:

  • Be there. You don't have to hover at homework time, but be around in case you're needed. If your son is frazzled by geometry problems he's been trying to solve for hours, for instance, suggest he take a break, maybe by shooting some hoops with you. A fresh mind may be all he needed, but when it's time to return to homework, ask how you can help.
  • Be in touch with school. Maintain contact with guidance counselors and teachers throughout the school year to stay informed, especially if your teen is struggling. They'll keep you apprised of what's going on at school and how to help your teen. They can guide you to tutoring options, offer perspective on course load, and provide guidance on any issues, such as dyslexia, ADHD, or vision or hearing difficulties. You can also be kept in the loop about tests, quizzes, and projects.
  • Don't forget the study skills. Help your teen develop good study skills — both in class and on homework. No one is born knowing how to study and often those skills aren't stressed in the classroom. When you're helping your teen study for a test, for instance, suggest such strategies as using flashcards to memorize facts or taking notes and underlining while reading.
  • Encourage students to reach out. Most teachers are available for extra help before or after school, and also might be able to recommend other resources. Encourage your teen to ask for help, if needed, but remember that in school students are rewarded for knowing the right answers, and no one likes to stand out by saying that they don't have them. Praise your teen's hard work and effort, and ask the guidance counselor or teachers for resources for support if you need them.

Don't wait for report cards to find out that there are problems at school. The sooner you intervene, the sooner you can help your teen get back on track.

Learning for Life

Make sure your teen knows that you're available if there's a snag, but that it's important to work independently. Encourage effort and determination — not just good grades. Doing so is crucial to motivating your kids to succeed in school and in life.

With a little support from parents, homework can be a positive experience for teens and foster lifelong skills they'll need to succeed in school and beyond.

Date reviewed: September 2013

Help With Homework, Hurt Your Child

Help With Homework, Hurt Your Child Help With Homework, Hurt Your Child

Last Friday was my son’s lower elementary invention fair. And his project was resplendent – a powered K’nex conveyor belt designed to transport a picture of our aging Labrador, Gus, through a diorama of our living room (without the clutter). It glittered among the many cardboard boxes slashed and duct-taped into laser-shooting alarm clock robots and crocodile egg protectors. Leif was so proud, explaining again and again, “The problem was my dog has a hurt leg. I made a conveyor belt so he can get around the house.”

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The thing is, I built it. Or at least most of it. And touring other kids’ homespun and authentic projects, I started to realize how profoundly I should not have. To discover exactly how much I had messed up my kid, I called Temple University psychology professor, Laurence Steinberg, author of The Ten Basic Principles of Good Parenting .

Here’s what he said: “I think the research is pretty clear that parents should not help with homework unless (1) the child asks for something specific that is beyond the child’s capability (asking the parent for help using a tool, for example), (2) the child does not understand what the homework assignment is (and you can explain it), or (3) the teacher has explicitly developed an assignment designed to have the parent and child work together on something.”

I also talked to Patricia Miller, SFSU professor and 2009-2010 president of the American Psychological Association division of developmental psychology, who said, “I think there’s HELP, and then there’s help. Based on developmental psychology research (and being a parent), I’d say that the best kind of parental help is ‘scaffolding’ — providing support in the form of prompts, hints, suggestions, reminders, etc. The child is more likely to learn something from that kind of help than from parents doing it themselves.”

When I tweeted the question of homework help, Sandra Aamodt, past editor of the journal Neuroscience and author of Welcome to Your Brain replied, “Costs of unfortunate results are low in kindergarten, will be higher later on. Let the kid figure it out.”

Points taken (not really).

Let me take a step back. I’m not necessarily a product-oriented parent. Here’s this year’s Christmas cake, complete with kid-created marshmallow “fondant” (which, according to my wife, is a real thing, sometimes used decoratively on the Food Channel).

But for some reason homework is different. I want to help; I want Leif to do it well and right. And I think that by sitting with him and “helping” I can make it so. Because dedicated parents are the only group more determined than climate change deniers to cherry-pick science that supports our point of view, I went trolling through the literature this weekend looking for studies that might refute the experts. Here’s what I found:

A 2008 meta-analysis titled Parent Involvement in Homework: A Research Synthesis found “a stronger association [with higher achievement] for parent rule-setting compared with other involvement strategies.” And found that parental involvement with homework had “negative association for mathematics achievement but a positive association for verbal achievement outcomes.”

On aggregate that’s a swing and a miss for homework helping.

More: a study of 709 kids titled Homework in the Home found that “More parental support for autonomy was associated with higher standardized test scores, higher class grades, and more homework completed. More positive parent involvement was associated with lower test scores and lower class grades, especially for elementary school students. Student attitudes toward homework were unrelated to parenting style for homework.”

In other words, the best thing we can do as parents is to “support autonomy.” See Steinberg’s points above – answering specific questions or explaining the assignment is autonomy support. Strike two.

In fact, the only concrete support I could find for parents’ hands-on helping with homework is from a 2011 study of a structured intervention called Teachers Involve Parents in Schoolwork (TIPS). The program, tested at four urban elementary schools in which 70% of students qualified for free or reduced lunch, included a weekly assignment with “specific instructions for students to involve a family partner in a discussion, interview, experiment, or other interaction.”

Completion rates, attitudes about homework, and test scores all went up. But what is TIPS, really? Their discussion calls the program a “homework intervention designed to ease some homework tensions between students and families.” Rather than an adult sitting at a child’s shoulder and playing the role of teacher, TIPS asks students to proactively involve adults, much like a reporter interviewing an adult subject (who comes to expect, check up on, and sign the completion slip for this weekly project).

It’s “autonomy support” and Steinberg’s third point – composed of thoughtfully designed assignments that compartmentalize a student’s autonomy and a parent’s involvement. It was also the third strike against involved, teacher-like helping.

I still want to help. I still want Leif to succeed. And after this weekend, as hard as it is, I know what that has to look like. For daily assignments, I need to lovingly provide support for autonomy and then get the heck out of the room. And next science fair, I need to provide the time, cardboard, scissors and duct tape – and see what happens.

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Helping Children With Homework - Parent Tips for Teaching

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Jill Houk's 10-year-old son is bright. So why is homework a constant battle? "He often claims he can't do it," says the 41-year-old chef from Chicago. "For the most part, I have him tough it out. Sometimes I cave and give more help than I probably should. I'm constantly unsure if I've taken the right approach."

Houk is grappling with what Kenneth Koedinger, PhD, calls the assistance dilemma. "It's finding that sweet spot, the right level of help that will get them up to speed but not take the learning away," says Koedinger, director of the Pittsburgh Science of Learning Center at Carnegie Mellon University. The key, he says, is to be flexible and adaptable, jumping in when a child gets stuck and then backing off as soon as he's over the hump.

Homework Guide

Kids learn best when they're given examples of how to solve problems, Koedinger says. Instead of doing the work, show your child how you'd do a similar task, step by step. After each step, have him explain to you why you did it. For example, in the infamous algebra problem where two trains are converging at different speeds, you might begin by drawing a diagram of the two trains. Ask your child, "What can this diagram show me?"

You can also offer alternative ways of approaching a task. If a child struggles with math equations, put them into a story format. "Let's say Brian worked four hours and earned $24; what would his hourly wage be?" This lets your child apply different parts of his brain. Research shows that we use the anterior prefrontal cortex to solve a story problem, and the posterior parietal cortex for equations -- but using either one can lead to a correct solution.

When it comes to learning, "no pain, no gain" is a misconception, Koedinger says. While a certain amount of struggling is normal, "pointless pain -- banging your head against the wall -- is a waste of time." If your child drags his feet on assignments, he has likely missed a key concept. Without enough basic knowledge, his homework won't be up to par and learning as a whole will be slower. You might have to review earlier lessons to find the sticking point.

Why you shouldn - t help your kids with their homework

Why you shouldn't help your kids with their homework

It may feel tempting – proper even – to help your child with homework, but parents who get involved this way don’t improve their kids’ test scores or grades, and can hurt their academic achievement, two researchers have found.

“We need to do away with the assumption that anything parents do will help. That assumes that parents have all the answers, and parents do not have all the answers,” Angel L. Harris, one of the scholars, told TODAY Moms.

“Some of the things that they do may actually lead to declines in achievement – inadvertently, of course.”

Harris, a professor of sociology and African and African-American studies at Duke, and Keith Robinson, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Texas, Austin, are the authors of the book “The Broken Compass: Parental Involvement With Children’s Education.”

They analyzed surveys of American families released in the last three decades by the U.S. Department of Education – surveys that followed the same families over time and collected information such as kids’ achievements, behaviors and their parents’ behaviors.

“We found that when parents from various racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups regularly helped their child with homework, in most cases, it made no difference for the child’s improvement in their test scores in reading, math, and their grades,” Robinson said.

“Regular help with homework… even compromised achievement in grades for white, black and non-Mexican Hispanic children.”

Could the findings simply reflect the fact that kids struggling with school ask for more homework help, thus making it look as though children who get more help do worse? No, Harris said, because the researchers measured the change in achievement among all kids, including those who performed well in school. The effect of parental homework involvement was the same across the board.

Since the surveys only provided information about how often parents helped with homework. not how they helped, Harris and Robinson can only speculate about the “why” part of the results. The basic message to parents is that being involved will not always result in better grades, Robinson said.

“Parents tend to take the reins of how they’re going to help with homework without consulting the child,” Robinson noted. “So maybe parents could ask kids, ‘Is what I’m doing helping you?’”

"It makes you rethink the assumption that helpers know what they’re doing, that they know how to help," Harris added.

Vicki Davis. a high school teacher at Westwood Schools in Camilla, Ga. said families who are over-involved in their children’s homework can enable helplessness. She’s seen her share of parents doing the assignments for their kids, especially writing papers, or taking charge of high-stakes, big projects.

Teacher Vicki Davis' daughter Susan finishes up her term paper. The high school senior stopped asking her mom for help with homework in second grade, Davis said.

“As a teacher, you recognize a student’s work. It’s like seeing somebody’s face every day and then all of a sudden, their face looks different,” Davis said.

“I don’t think most parents meant to do it. They just kind of start taking over.”

Davis expects elementary school students to get help from parents because they’re still learning study skills, and she doesn’t mind if older students talk “big picture” with their families about a project.

But in general, parents should limit their involvement to making sure kids are completing their homework, she advised.

She finds the students who do best in school have parents who hold them accountable and regularly look at their grades. The goal is to create independent, lifelong learners, she said.

Kerry Lyons, a mother of five in Irvington, N.Y. said the research findings are a “huge relief.” Lyons works full time, so when she gets home, her kids – three kindergartners, one second-grader and one fourth-grader – are usually done with homework.

She estimates she helps twice a week, and then sits down with each child during the weekend to discuss what they worked on.

“I beat myself up sometimes because I’m surrounded by parents who are so focused on their kids and so focused on helping them with their school work and helping them succeed, and I simply don’t have the hours in the day to do that,” Lyons, 42, said.

“You worry about setting them up for the best possible start… (but) they’re going to be OK and they might even be better off.”

If helping with homework isn’t a good way for parents to be involved, Harris and Robinson found three ways that do help kids do better in school: Requesting a particular teacher for your child; expecting him or her to go to college, and discussing school activities with your child.

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