Ask an expert: How much should I help my child with their homework?

Ask an expert: How much should I help my child with their homework?

My son has just started secondary school and often asks me to help him with his homework. Should parents ever help with homework, and if so, how?

Eric Oldfield, chief business officer of the peer-to-peer learning platform  Brainly, says: “Homework struggles are a universal problem for students (and parents), and a one-size-fits-all approach is simply never 100% effective. At a minimum, parents should ensure their child has everything he or she needs to successfully complete the homework. This includes helping to set a regular time and place for assignments, limiting distractions, and providing resources and supplies when needed.

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“When it comes to actually helping with homework, the key issue here is how parents help their children, not necessarily how often. Homework assistance can be a great way for parents to see what their child is learning in school and can help reinforce that education if done right. However, some parents end up taking over the reins completely, which prevents their child from actually gaining a comprehensive understanding of the material.

In addition, it’s common for many parents to have forgotten about the topics their kids are learning in school – or to have never really understood them in the first place.

“Utilising crowd learning platforms like Brainly can help students – and their parents who sometimes struggle to provide homework help on challenging subjects. Crowd learning platforms transfer all the benefits of the real life collaboration between students into an online space, and allow students to take control of their learning by working together with peers instead of relying on others for their homework help.

“Parents can also help children by making sure they avoid some of the most common homework mistakes. These include: Failing to show working out – teachers want to make sure students understand what they’re doing. If a student gets the wrong answer on a question without showing their work, it makes it difficult to figure out where they went wrong and explain how to arrive at the correct answer. So parents should make sure children show their working out in homework.

“Improving their time management – the longer pupils procrastinate on their work and wait until the last minute, the sloppier their finished product comes out. Parents should remind them it’s always best to begin homework as early as possible to avoid a rushed outcome.

“Not understanding the directions – whether they don’t understand the source or material, or missed a vital detail in the question, parents can help children better understand the question being asked, which is integral to finding the right answer.

“Reminding them to proofread their work – there’s nothing more frustrating than an unforced error in schoolwork. Proofreading work to make sure it’s up to the expected level and hits on all required points is essential to receive a positive mark.”

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