The simple answer is to try to help as little as possible. One of the most frequent complaints from teachers is that children are much to reliant on parents. As parents, we feel conflicted about this. It’s heartbreaking to see your child struggle–so how much help is too much?
Here are some ways to help your child without being “too” helpful:
1. Hire a tutor. If you are able to afford it, hiring a tutor can really mitigate any conflicts that arise when you try to help your kids, OR, inadvertantly helping too much. A private tutor, or homework center provided by your community can be a great option to help your child build confidence and learn strategies to help himself.
2. Create a routine. This could make the entire difference for your child. If there is no routine around homework, then it will be rushed, forgotten, or done carelessly. Whatever it is, time after school should include rest, snacks, play, and homework. This can become difficult with after school sports, and other activities, but your child must know that homework is always the priority. If he’s an early riser, maybe it gets done before school. The important thing is that it gets done at the same time every day.
3. Organize. Your child should be organized in a way that works for him or her. This might not be your way, but there needs to be a sense of organization. You must talk to your child about routines, and habits on a weekly basis. Whether this is color coded folders, assignment notebooks provided by school, or smart phone organizers, your child should have a “go-to” space when it comes to organizing homework. This will make him feel more confident and balanced.
4. Communicate with the teacher. Get a clear handle on the expectations of a long term assignment, like how much time per day should your child be spending on research? Does she having any planning organizers available to use? What is the suggested work schedule? Are there check-ins? If it’s a simple math assignment and you’re struggling with “new math,” ask for a tutoring session. Some schools actually offer them, but do ask the teacher to spend some time with you so that you can properly help your child.
5. Ask a sibling or someone close to you. An older sibling, cousin, or neighbor might be willing to give up some time to spend with your child. If it’s someone your child trusts that is not another adult, he or she might feel more comfortable to make mistakes, and develop somewhat of a role model. Sometimes, helping your own child can create conflict, lost patience, or fear of failing.
6. Keep an eye on the computer. Be careful that your child is able to struggle without cheating. It’s all too temping to turn to good old Google for help!