Parents have recently acquired a poor reputation in the realm of math homework.One study suggested that parental meddling does not improve their child’s results and their involvement in helping with Common Core has resulted in a lot of irritation for everyone.
However, that does not mean that parents shouldn’t help with homework. In fact, there are ways to be useful without getting in the way. Here are some tips:
- Find a time. Knowing the time that you are most productive is a great asset to have as an adult, and knowing your child’s groove will make them less resentful about the whole doing-school-after-school thing. If your child needs a snack, make sure they are fed. If they need an hour to unwind after school, then give it to them. Furthermore, try to get them to tackle the hardest part of their homework first so that their brain is most active when they are least tired.
- Find a place. This should be somewhere quiet where they can sit and concentrate. It should not double-up as a play area. Ideally your child should not be able to see his siblings play Xbox, or be able to overhear the latest Game of Thrones episode.
- Find a way to communicate. If your child is asking for help with their homework then by all means assist them. If you find that you are helping them too much with a particular topic, then let the teacher know. Ask your teacher if your child is struggling with something in particular and see if you might know a way to ease them into the topic. If your school has Matific, you can ask for a report that highlights your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
- Do your homework. The US Department of Education recommends doing your own homework while your child is studying. So if they are reading, you should read too (note they haven’t specified the reading material). They also suggest that if they are doing math you should be doing some math yourself, like adjusting a recipe or calculating how much of your mortgage you need to repay before you can get your life back.
- Bribery. This might sound obvious, but if your child is working particularly well one week or has tackled a topic they found frustrating, make sure you reward good behaviour. Take them out for dinner, or let them choose an activity that they really like. Who knows they might just want to sit on the couch and watch you drink a cold glass of wine.
So teachers and parents, do you have any other tips on how to be involved in your child’s homework? I’m also interested to know how involved you think parents should be.
Marina Gomer is a journalist and mother of one. She lives with her family in Sydney, Australia.