Help with homework
Helping your kids with their homework could be doing them a disservice.
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Are you doing your child’s homework? Research shows that in one out of every 6 families – it is the mothers and fathers that actually do all the homework! With South African schools reopening for the first term of 2016 during this week, these findings come as part of a new study into the often controversial topic.

When your 7th grader had already gone to bed and you’re still up trying to put his science project together (due for the next day!), you know you’re in trouble! You have to be an involved parent, and it’s great that you’re taking an active role in your kids’ education, BUT by doing their homework for them (let’s be honest, that’s what’s happening in too many households), you’re undermining their ability to learn good study habits.

Parent’s often feel it’s their job to get their kids to do well in school. Naturally you might get anxious about your responsibility as a parent. You might also be nervous about your kids succeeding in life, and homework often becomes the focus of that. Your child needs guidance from you, but guidance doesn’t mean doing the research for his history project!

When you cross the line into over-functioning, you are taking his responsibilities and making them yours. We as parents often think that if we don’t help, they won’t cope. But as much as you think that you are simply trying to help, you are actually sending them the very clear message that you don’t think they’re smart enough to do their own work!

The expectation is that homework is done to the best of your child’s ability. If your child asks for help, you can coach him. In other words show him how to help himself. Never back off altogether – it’s that middle ground you’re looking for.

When he stops making an effort and you see his grades drop, that’s when you invite yourself in completely. Then it is your job to help him to do his job better. And when you see a change, take a step back. Remember, this is not a punishment – it’s a practical way of helping your child to do his best. That’s why it’s so important to set the necessary structures in place.

Here are a few top homework tips to guide the way:

  • Know the teachers – and what they’re looking for. Attend parent-teacher conferences. Ask about homework policies and how you should be involved.
  • Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure that the room is well-lit and ventilated. A quiet room away from noisy siblings is always a good idea. Keep distractions to a minimum.
  • Schedule a regular study time. Find what works best for your child.
    Help them to make a plan. When homework is overwhelming, encourage them to break the work up into smaller, more manageable chunks. Make sure that they take regular breaks.
  • Make sure they do their own work. Let them make their own mistakes and deal with the consequences.
  • Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments and tests. Make yourself available for questions.
  • Praise their efforts. Display art projects of little ones and mention academic achievements to friends and family.
  • Get help. Talk to your child’s teacher about problems with homework.
Helping your child to build his confidence is one of the greatest gifts you can give. Be careful not to let your own ambitions take over. As a parent you should be involved – but not too involved. Set limits – but allow freedom. Encourage your kids to excel – but allow them to make their own mistakes.

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