Homework: Help for Parents

Homework has become one of the biggest issues for parents and kids. It brings with it anger, frustration, tears, fears and family disharmony. And it affects the success your child has in school.

Jack, a nine year old, often spends all afternoon and evening doing homework, sometimes until eleven o’clock at night. In addition, he always needs help with it, so his mom and dad got him a homework helper from a tutoring service.

Jack’s Dad: “When I was in fourth grade I came home from school and played ball with the kids on the block. Then I ate dinner with my family, did my homework and went to sleep. I have two masters degrees; I did fine. The only thing Jack has time for is homework and dinner. My mother was a teacher and she said Jack has more homework in one night than she used to give in one week.”

Homework usually didn’t begin until seventh grade. But, even then most kids didn’t need to carry home all their books home from school. They didn’t need a homework helper because they got their homework done at school during study hall.

Even high school kids could usually get their homework done and still watch “Dick Clark’s American Bandstand” on TV  They also had enough time to be in the school show, or in the marching band, or on a sports team without having a complete meltdown. Rarely did parents have to help them.

Maybe it wasn’t enough for today but it certainly wasn’t too much. How much homework should my child have?

The optimum amount of homework for average children depends on their grade in school.  But too little and they don’t have a chance to practice what they learn in school; too much and they click-off their brains and simply push pencils around to get it done.  And it shouldn’t be so difficult that parents have to help every night.

You can use this guide to judge whether or not your child has too much or too little homework. grades K-2, 10-20 minutes; grades 3-6, 30-60 minutes; grades 7-12 will vary considerably, depending on subjects, projects due, tests, and so on, but a reasonable average is about two hours, with more on weekends, as needed, for major projects and exams.

What can I do if I don’t agree with the amount of homework assigned?

Children need homework to succeed in school.  If you don’t agree with the amount of homework or are concerned that it’s too difficult, talk to your child’s teacher. If your child’s teacher isn’t responsive, talk to the school principal. Assertive parenting on your part helps.

Your child’s success in school depends not only on what he does in school but how well he’s doing with homework.

Got homework strategies that work at your house or questions? Leave us and our readers a comment.

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