It's not just your kids who need your help with homework; teachers need your help too. While you may have prepared at home by setting up a homework space, coming up with a homework plan and a plan to make sure it gets into the teacher's hands, there are a few other, more subtle things that your child's teacher needs you to do for homework to be successful.
What You Need to Know About Homework
- Read the homework policy. Teachers know that parents feel like they are drowning in all the paperwork that comes home from school and, if they can help it, won't add unnecessary notices to the pile. However, the homework policy is a memo that parents really ought to read to avoid questions and confusions further down the line. Homework policies outline the important details such as whether or not an assignment will be accepted late, what percentage of your child's grade is based on homework, what resources are considered acceptable for research or even whether assignments need to be written in pen or pencil.
- Ask your child daily about homework. Many students forget to write down homework assignments or wait until the last minute to complete a long-term project. Asking every day about your child's homework (and framing the question so you get more than "Yeah, I have homework") not only shows your child you're invested in his academic success, but also gives you a chance to run him back to school for books he may need, provide help with a tough assignment or help him plan out a schedule for approaching for a long-term project.
- Talk to the teacher if your child is spending too much time on or struggling with assignments. Believe it or not, your child's teacher doesn't want her to spend hours toiling over her homework. The assignment should, for the most part, be practicing a skill she's already learned, preparing for the next day's class or a test or working on a project that goes hand-in-hand with something being learned in class. Homework really shouldn't be that hard and if your child's teacher is sticking to the National Education Association's recommended 10-minute rule, shouldn't take much more than 10 minutes for each grade level she's finished. (i.e. first grade=10 minutes, second grade=20 minutes, etc.) If your child is struggling she may need some extra help or a specialized homework plan that reduces her amount of homework
- Supervise, brainstorm and encourage, but not create, your child's project. How many times have you seen a science fair project that you know is too sophisticated for a third grader to have done by himself? Your child's teacher has probably seen plenty of projects just like them. The point of a project is to teach students to plan, organize and present information all by themselves, not to have the best or most attractive finished product. It's okay to help come up with ideas and to buy supplies, but resist the urge to step in and simply be there for your child.
- Look over completed homework. This one's pretty self-explanatory. Check over your child's homework when he's done with it. The purpose is not only to make sure he's actually done it, but also to make sure it's been done well. Some children rush through assignments and make careless mistakes, while others may misunderstand the directions and do the assignment completely wrong. These are things a quick homework check can help to catch.