Help with Homework: How much help is too much help?
A Parent’s Perspective
As a parent, we all want our children to succeed. I remember just last year, my daughter came home with homework that she didn’t quite understand. However she didn’t understand the homework, because she didn’t understand the classwork. It was a little frustrating, because I couldn’t sit in class with her to be able to explain it to her at the way that her teacher had explained to her. Frankly, I was struggling to understand the new math myself! I could only do the best that I could do, and teach her with my own way of thinking, which was different than how the teacher taught the concept. There were times actually I must confess, that I figured out the math problem, and then explain to her what I did. I didn’t do this with every problem. I explained my thinking as I figured out the problem, and she tried that way as well. The experience actually did help her to improve her understanding of the particular math concept, but I couldn’t do this successfully with every single math concept she was working on. I wanted to just do the homework for her, and get it over with.
A Teacher’s Perspective
During instruction in the classroom, it is so important for students to pay attention to mini-lessons, participate in strategy groups and small group instruction, as well as conferences. During the school day, observations and conversations can allow us to use the data gathered to drive our next steps for instruction. Homework is an extension of classwork. Homework serves as an additional practice to the strategies and skills that are presented in the classroom. Parents are encouraged to”help” but not “do” homework for students. If a parent does their child’s homework, they might have a completed assignment to turn, however this leaves the student in a state of not understanding the concept.
Sitting with the students during homework and project time, watching their thought process and problem solving skills, being a support and asking them questions as they work, can be a great help for many learners. Sometimes we have to allow students to struggle in order for them to figure out the problem. When we help too much, we are interfering with the student’s ability to independently figure out problems and strategize as they get older. Too often as teachers we see projects and assignments that are completed by very well-meaning parents. I can personally recall receiving homework from a student in adult handwriting. Unfortunately, I have also seen parents do projects and assignments for kids because they didn’t have time to sit down and work alongside of them. Life is busy. Classroom instruction is extremely important. Homework and projects are important as well because it’s an extension of what happens in the classroom. Homework and project time, is a time for parents to work alongside their children, and be the catalyst to strengthening them as independent thinkers and problem solvers.