Getting kids to do their homework can be a hassle in any household. If your child has learning and attention issues, it can also be a challenge to figure out how much to help him. If you’re doing his homework for him, he might not be learning what he needs to.
What’s the point of homework?
When you watch your child struggling with his homework, it’s natural to wonder if those assignments are really necessary. That’s a question parents and teachers often debate. But, for the most part, there are good reasons for homework.
According to the National Education Association (NEA), teachers shouldn’t give homework just so kids have homework. The assignments should serve one of three purposes:
- Practice: Your child uses a new skill he just learned or works on a skill that he needs to review.
- Preparation: Your child gets ready for something he’s going to learn. Maybe he’s reading the next chapter in his social studies book. Or he’s researching butterflies because that’s what his science class will be discussing tomorrow.
- Extension: Your child learns more about a topic that was covered in the classroom. He’s expanding his knowledge by doing something like developing a project for the science fair or writing a poem in the same style as one he read in class.
How much homework is too much?
There’s a limit to how much time your child needs to spend on homework. The NEA recommends something called the “10-minute rule.”
According to this rule, students should spend about 10 minutes per grade level on homework every night. That means a second grader should typically be able to complete his homework in about 20 minutes. A sixth grader should be able to get his done in about an hour.
“There are constructive ways you can ease your child’s homework headaches without actually doing it for him.”
When it comes to kids with learning and attention issues, though, it’s not always that simple. When kids have difficulties with reading, writing, math, focus or organization, homework can take longer. But keeping up shouldn’t mean that your child has to spend all his time on homework or lose sleep to finish.
The solution isn’t to do your child’s homework for him. A more effective approach is to speak with the school and his teachers about finding other ways he can practice skills or reducing the amount of homework he has to do every night.
How can you help with homework?
There are constructive ways you can ease your child’s homework headaches without actually doing it for him. Begin by helping him create a homework station and learn how to use a homework planner to organize and manage his time.
You can also use this three-point “check” system for homework:
- Check in. Check in with your child when he comes home from school to see if he has homework, what it is and when it’s due. This gives you a chance to talk with him about what support and supplies he may need. It also lets him know you think homework is important.
- Check up. When you check up on how your child’s doing, it means you’re close enough to answer questions, brainstorm solutions and encourage him. If he needs you to help him through the directions and steps of his homework, there’s nothing wrong with sitting down with him to work through his problems. Some kids, though, may want a little space to make it through on their own.
- Check over. Checking over means looking at your child’s homework when it’s finished. Your job here isn’t to fix mistakes, but to point out if your child hasn’t followed the directions, if he missed a few problems or if he made the same error over and over. If you’ve been checking up, though, it’s not as likely that he’ll have done his whole assignment incorrectly before you notice it.
It’s also a good idea to keep in touch with your child’s teacher. Be aware of the homework policies, like whether late papers are accepted. Once you know the expectations, you have a place to start if you need to speak with the teacher about modifying the policy for your child.
You may think your child likes it when you do his homework for him. But learning to do it himself will give him the skills he needs and teach him the value of perseverance, as well.