When helping your elementary-school student with homework, it’s important to be prepared. Keep reading to learn four ways you can help your child get the most out of this educational experience.
1. Show—don’t tell
It can be tempting, particularly with younger students who are struggling, to give away answers when helping with homework. You don’t have to be a teacher to know that, in the long run, your child isn’t learning the material with this approach. Think of creative ways to help her find the answer she is looking for. Discuss a scenario that may apply to the problem at hand, use a household object to illustrate how to reach the answer, or have your child describe how she thinks the problem should be solved.
2. Ask questions
Another important tip to help students find answers is to constantly ask them encouraging questions. There are many ways you can help children reach the correct answer without giving it away. Sometimes, simply hearing the problem phrased in another way can help a student refocus and reach the answer. Prompting questions such as “What does this problem remind you of?” or “Have you seen any other questions like this one?” can also help your child remember examples given to him in class.
3. Disconnect from electronics
In today’s society, electronics are becoming an increasingly present part of students’ lives. However, if it isn’t necessary to your student completing her homework, an electronic device should not be a part of homework time. Electronics can be an obvious distraction to your child’s homework, and this can prevent her from fully processing information. Your child might not be the biggest fan of the no-electronics rule, so best practices include limiting your own electronics use when working with her, and incentivizing time without electronics with rewards.
4. Take occasional breaks
The electronics ban doesn’t need to last from the moment your child gets home from school to when he finishes every last bit of homework. Set reasonable expectations by letting him take occasional breaks. For younger students, these breaks will occur naturally as they lose interest or motivation to keep working. When this happens, take a moment together to relax and reset. For older students, schedule break time together. Breaks can come after completing homework for one subject or on a time-based schedule—whichever makes the most sense for your child. During this time, let him eat a snack, play on his electronics, or spend some time outside.
While helping your child with homework can seem like an overwhelming task, it doesn’t need to be. Supporting him comes in many forms, and not all of them require you to be an incredible teacher. By acknowledging that the work he is doing is valuable, you can help validate the time and effort he puts into completing homework assignments. With plenty of prompting questions and an occasional break or two, you and your child will be on your way to success in no time at all!
Samhitha Krishnan is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.