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Parents: How Much Homework Help…Is Too Much?

Posted on Posted in Blog, Parenting's Not Easy, School Me on Research

Parents: How Much Homework Help…Is Too Much?

How much homework does your child normally have every day?  For the oldest, who really knows…I can’t monitor her every move on her Chromebook while I am cooking.  But I’d say maybe an hour and a half if she were really studying. For the two youngest about thirty minutes.
When my oldest first started school I used to think I was lucky if she completed her homework in after care before I picked her up.  By the time she reached third grade I learned that was a big mistake.  I looked over her work when I got home to make sure it was done but I was clueless as to what skills she still needed to work on. 
Once I found out that my oldest needed extra help in math I sat down right beside her and helped her through each and every homework problem.  BIG Mistake (number 2, in case you’re counting)!  While I was helping her with every problem I was also helping her to develop a co-dependency.  Before I even realized it my oldest developed the need to always look to her left or right for validation before she made a mark.  Not a good habit to create when the teacher has twenty some odd other students to tend to. 
A recent study also makes me think I should have guided her with help at home and not sit right beside her.  In the study 13 year old students were given questionnaires asking how often they did homework and how much time they spent on various subjects. They were also asked whether they did their homework alone or whether they had help and, if so, how often. Their academic performance in math and science was measured using a standardized test.
The study found that:
  • Students spent on average between one and two hours a day doing homework in all subjects.
  • Students whose teacher systematically assigned homework scored nearly 50 points higher on the standardized test.
  • Students who did their math homework on their own scored 54 points higher than those who asked for frequent or constant help. 
  • When it comes to adolescents with math and science homework, more isn’t necessarily better — an hour a day is optimal — but doing it alone and regularly produces the biggest knowledge gain
If you’ve ever had to watch your child struggle to do something, like make a wobbly pour of milk into a cup, or fumble with trying to push a button through a hole, you know it’s hard to resist the urge.  The urge to jump in and take over after your nerves won’t let you stand there any more with your hands stuck to your sides.
Nowadays I linger at the kitchen sink while the kiddos work on homework.  When they come to me with an ‘I don’t get it’ whine I have to force myself to first say,
‘Go back…re-read the directions…try again.’  Most times, they can figure it out on their own while I sit on my hands and resist the urge to pull up a chair…and take over.


How do you help with homework?



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