Helping Your Kids Do Homework Without Doing It Yourself
Fri, September 30, 2022

Helping Your Kids Do Homework Without Doing It Yourself

Homework has become more demanding and complex. The set of tasks given to students by their teachers that should be done outside their classroom is expected to improve the students’ learning despite studies saying that it does not benefit grade-schoolers / Photo by: Katarzyna Białasiewicz via 123RF


Homework has become more demanding and complex. The set of tasks given to students by their teachers that should be done outside their classroom is expected to improve the students’ learning despite studies saying that it does not benefit grade-schoolers. Homework is something expected by institutions, parents, teachers, and students. As parents, you sometimes run of time or patience or you simply want to make sure that your kid is academically successful. This is the reason why you may be tempted to overstep when it comes to doing their assignments. However, doing the homework yourself will not do your kid any favors.

Parental Involvement With School Homework

Evidence has shown that too much parental involvement in school homework tends to backfire on the student. What parents should do is recognize that homework exists so that kids will better understand the lessons they are learning in the classroom. Kids should figure this out on their own. They may make a mistake, but that is a part of the process of learning. Allowing the kid to do the homework themselves teaches them important life lessons, such as time management, problem-solving, and self-sufficiency.

Providing Guidance and Support

This does not, however, mean that you should not get involved in doing the homework. What you can do instead is to offer your guidance and support while reinforcing to them that it is their responsibility.

Melissa Barnes and Katrina Tour, lecturers in the Faculty of Education at Monash University, shared that one of the ways parents can help their kids in doing their homework is to be interested and be involved in the process. Home involvement means talking to kids about their school, creating a stimulating study environment, and encouraging kids.

Although most kids don’t enjoy doing their homework, parents can encourage and praise the child and that positivity will create a difference in the way the child will approach learning and homework. Your support and presence alone already create a positive learning environment for the child.

Barnes, together with Tour and Robyn Babaeff from Monash University, conducted a study involving Pakistani and Afghani mothers. These moms were not sure how to help their kids in their assignments because they could not write or speak in English and they didn't particularly understand the education system in Australia. Yet, these mothers would sit next to their kids while they were completing their assignment in English and encourage them to discuss what they are learning using their native language.

"Just my son sits with me and I’m listening to him and I’m encouraging but I don’t understand what he reads and says,” one mom said. The authors translated these words from Dari to English. The parents in the study retell stories and discuss using their home language. They also employed encouragement and active listening, creating a strong influence on the student’s attitude when it comes to learning and studying.

Behavior Modeling

Many teachers recognize the importance of modeling as an instructional strategy to demonstrate a new approach or concept for students to learn. In this strategy, students learn the lessons by observing what the teacher demonstrates. Parents can adopt the same method. If the child encounters a problem that they cannot work out, you can sit next to the child and demonstrate how you would do it. Then, complete the next problem together so that the child can do other problems on their own.

Use a Homework Timeline in Case of Homework Meltdowns

There may come a time when the child becomes frustrated with their assignment, and it is not good to force it on them. Homework meltdown is a message that the child is feeling overwhelmed, according to child psychologist Laura Markham, Ph.D. The solution is to make a homework plan together. Help them understand the task and break it into smaller logical tasks so that it will not be too much for them. You can also discuss the time needed to complete the small tasks and put them in your homework timeline. This homework plan should be visible to the child so that they can mark the completed tasks themselves and see the progress they have made. Markham is not a part of the Monash University research team.

Don’t Hover While They Complete the Homework

When it comes to completing the child’s homework, parents should not hover. Be there to encourage and support but give them space as they finish it. You can do other things, like send work emails or make dinner. What is important is you remain accessible as they will be encouraged to solve more.

Your ability as a parent to support your child’s learning does not just end in homework. You can also engage them in discussions and provide them with other learning opportunities combined with something fun, such as watching a documentary together or visiting a museum.

How Much Is Too Much?

A poll previously shared by Duke University showed that about 58% of parents think that their child is assigned to homework that is “just right” while 23% think the homework was “too little” and the remaining 19% think it’s “too much.” Yet, the opinion of parents cannot exactly tell whether the homework really improves the child’s academic achievement. Supporters of giving homework to students argue that there are other beneficial effects of homework, such as helping develop good study habits, making the students’ cognitive capacities more mature, helping students recognize that learning happens outside school, and fostering responsible and independent learning character traits.

On the other hand, some argue that homework also has negative effects. It can lead to the boredom of schoolwork, it can deny a student access to leisure activities that also present important life skills, and parents can get too involved in the process, leading them to pressure their children. Too much pressure on the part of parents will confuse the child because of instructional methods that differ from what their teachers advise.

In 2018, database company Statista shared the average number of hours per week parents would spend helping their kids with homework by country: India (12.0), Turkey (8.7), Singapore (7.9), Brazil (7.5), Russia (7.5), China (7.2), South Africa (6.8), United States (6.2), South Korea (5.4), Germany (5.0), Spain (4.8), Australia (4.4), France (3.9), United Kingdom (3.6), and Japan (2.6).

In general, both parents and teachers can have some flexibility when it comes to prescribing only the right amount of homework. It should not be extreme, but should also create a positive link to achievement.