Who should help with homework?

Many parents feel they don’t have the skills to help their children with homework. Yet, research has shown that the quality of the parent-child interaction is more important than the actual techniques used. You might be surprised at what a good teacher you can be!

Helping with homework, however, doesn’t have to be your responsibility alone. You may discover that more than one family member is willing and able to lend a hand. As you decide who should help your child with homework, consider these questions:

  • Is there someone in your family who’s a “natural teacher”? Maybe it’s a parent. Or maybe it’s a sibling or other relative who lives nearby and is willing to help.
  • Is there someone in your family who’s especially knowledgeable about or talented in a particular subject area? Maybe Dad studied French in college. Maybe big sister is a math whiz.

You might also look beyond your immediate family. If your child spends the after-school hours with a sitter, perhaps the sitter can help. Or maybe the sitter you regularly call for weekday or weekend evenings can lend a hand. And don’t forget about other children your child knows. Kids who study with friends can help each other. For the sake of simplicity, this article is written to the parent and assumes that the parent is the one who will most likely be involved. But that doesn’t have to be the case. Ask around and your may find that help is available from other resources.

Of course, you should exercise good judgment in any of these arrangements. Be certain the person really wants to help and understands this basic principle: Homework should never be done for the child. Also make sure that the person has the time. Helping with homework should not put and excessive burden on anyone, particularly siblings. If big brother has an especially busy school and social schedule, the added responsibility may not be beneficial to him or to the child in need of assistance.

You should also be aware that online help may be available to your child. Some schools and schools districts have web sites with online “Dial-a-Teacher support. Such sites typically include links, frequently asked questions, and email response for individual queries.

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