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Should Parents Help Struggling Students with Homework?


It seems like children bring more homework with each passing year, and if your child is struggling, it can turn the dinner table into a battleground every afternoon. It's tough to watch your children struggle through material they don't understand, and it's natural to want to jump in and help. Before doing this, however, know when helping may actually be hurting and what to do if your child is having trouble in school.

To Help or Not to Help

Surprisingly, a study conducted by the University of Texas at Austin and Duke University showed that parent involvement in student's homework did not necessarily lead to better grades. In fact, children who had help did no better and sometimes did worse than children who did not receive help from their parents. The first thing to understand here is that there is a difference between helping your child with homework and doing the work — or the majority of it — for them. Telling your child what to write down or going over homework afterward and correcting all of the errors doesn't give your child the opportunity to learn the material, reinforce the concepts taught in class or discover areas that need improvement.

It's also important to understand that parents and homework just don't always mix. School, learning and homework have changed a lot in the past few decades, and the process is just as important as the answer. If you teach your child to solve a problem one way, it may be difficult for him to switch to the teacher's preferred method in class.

Helping Children with Learning Disabilities

If you are going to help, it's important to be as hands-off as possible and only offer as much assistance as requested and needed. If your child is doing fine on her own, there's no reason to jump in and start double checking her geography homework, but if she asks you for your input, try asking leading questions to help her arrive at the answer on her own.

If your child asks for your help with a task or you see him struggling, here are a few suggestions for how to help without causing other issues:

  • Provide options. It's easy for kids to get stuck trying to approach a problem or paper in a certain way. Help your child look for alternative angles or perspectives to spark a breakthrough.
  • Cater to your child's learning style. Pass a ball while reciting math facts or record a book on tape so your child can play it back. Whether your child learns best by hands-on interaction, by watching or by reading, use homework help methods that reinforce class concepts in the way your child best grasps new material.
  • Get help. As a parent, you're already spread pretty thin trying to deal with the daily comings and goings of your child as well as all of your other responsibilities. If you're finding tension around homework is spreading into the rest of the house, consider finding a tutor who specializes in helping children with academic, social and behavioral issues.

One final consideration: If you find that your child is really struggling with homework or seems to need more than just an occasional nudge or hint, talk to the teacher. Homework is one way the teacher assesses how well the material is being absorbed, and if she doesn't know there's an issue, she also can't do anything to fix it.

Does your child struggle to get homework done? Don't let him or her fall even further behind! Contact us online or find a center near you to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help.

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