How Much Homework Help Is Too Much?
Q: Our 11-year-old daughter is starting middle school. She has always relied too much on our help to do her homework. Is there a rule of thumb on how much input a parent should have in a sixth-grader’s homework? — Concerned
A: As a general rule of thumb, children should be able to handle their homework primarily by themselves by seventh grade. Start working toward that goal now, but don’t pull your homework support out from under your child.
Begin by having your daughter read her nightly assignments out loud to you. Then have her explain how she is going to complete the work. Help her learn to plan the order in which she will tackle her assignments. Next, she should read and explain the directions of the first assignment to you. Not knowing exactly what is expected can cause confusion. Ask her if she has any questions about the first assignment. After answering them, either encourage her to complete this assignment independently or watch how she completes the first item to see that she does understand the directions.
When your daughter runs into a roadblock on an assignment, ask her to study the textbook examples or her notes before asking for your aid. Your aid should never include doing the work for her. Praise her efforts.
Communicate Often With Teachers
Q: How important is it for me to communicate with my childern’s teachers? – Non-communicator
A: Research shows that frequent parent/teacher communication really helps children succeed in school. So start communicating with your children’s teachers early this year. It will show them that you truly want to be involved in your children’s education.
Communication can mean brief notes, e-mails, and phone calls to your child’s teacher. Be sure to find out how individual teachers wish to be approached. A good icebreaker is a reference to a lesson, a teaching technique, or a homework assignment that really motivated your child.
Informal chats are also very effective communication tools. Plan to volunteer for classroom activities and to attend parent/teacher events. These are great settings for parents and teachers to get to know each other. However, they are not the time to resolve any problems.
Mutual disclosure is important to parent/teacher communication. Parents need to tell teachers about anything that is happening at home that may be affecting their children’s work. And teachers should tell parents what is happening at school.
How often parents and teachers communicate with each other truly depends on whether there are any serious problems. Some may need to communicate almost every day. If children are handling school well, casual chats with teachers and occasional notes or e-mails should build a good relationship.
Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts