gmhTODAY 13 gmhToday March April 2017 - Page 51

…how much is too much? Helping Janie with her homework… T here’s no question that we want to help our kids. But what about with their homework? Does helping with homework hinder kids from becoming responsible and independent? Well, it turns out that really depends on the way you choose to help them. Studies show that regardless of socio- economic status, racial and ethnic back- ground, or the parents’ education level, students achieve more when their parents are involved. Where it can get tricky is if a parent is too helpful or too involved in their kid’s schoolwork. For instance, say your child is struggling with a math equation and you step in to help. Your instinct is to teach him the way you learned to solve the problem, but many subjects, especially math, are taught a whole new way than when you were in school. Your efforts may end up confusing him more or undoing what the teacher has taught in class. Furthermore, if you swoop in whenever your child needs help, he’ll be less inclined to figure things out for himself. Of course, when your child is five or six years old it’s necessary to sit with her while she does her homework; however the goal should always be to help less over time and be physically farther away from where she’s working. As she gets older, work out a plan of action for when, how, and where her homework gets done, preferably at the beginning of the school year. Some kids work best in their room, while others are more productive in the living room or at the kitchen table. Regardless of where they choose to work, make sure that electronic screens of any kind are off and out of sight until they’re done. Let your child know that you’re available for help, but try only allotting her two to three questions that she’s allowed to ask you per night. This ensures that she won’t become overly reliant on you for all of the answers and it forces her to think about what homework problems she can tackle on her own and which require help from you. If she does call for you to come and help, try to give her some time to think by saying you’ll be over as soon as you’ve finished with whatever you’re doing. In the time it takes you to come over, she might look over the problem again and figure it out herself. Even while you’re there, respond with more questions such as “What do you think?” or “How do you think you can find the answer?” Sometimes talking through the problem with you will allow her to find the solution without getting the answer from you. When it comes to proofing your child’s homework, less is definitely better. Teachers like seeing mistakes because it tells them what material their students have absorbed and what might need more attention. If homework comes back perfect, then they have no way of telling if the student is struggling. It’s okay to check a few answers to make sure your child is understanding the gist of the subject, but don’t go over the entire page. Homework is as much a lesson in responsibility as it is about the actual subject matter. This means that your child should complete his homework the best he can, pack it up, and get it to school himself. Keeping a daily homework planner is especially help- ful for both kids and parents to know what assignments are due and when. It might seem harsh, but if your child forgets his homework (or his gym clothes or anything else) and calls begging you to bring them to school, don’t. Teachers generally have a policy for these types of things, such as making them redo the assignment during recess. Bailing your child GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MARCH/APRIL 2017 out undermines the teacher’s efforts. Kids hone their time management skills through homework as well, which means you shouldn’t let them drag on indefinitely doing their homework. The National PTA and National Education Association recommends 10 minutes a night per grade, meaning 20 minutes for a 2 nd grader, 30 minutes for a 3 rd grader, and so forth. If your child is making an honest effort and is still spending hours on her assignments, sometimes it’s a sign that there are broader issues at work, such as learning disabilities, ADHD, or vision or hearing difficulties. Review the homework with your child and talk to her teacher to help identify any learning problems early on. A child’s love of learning always starts with you. Try to tie in what he’s learning to real life applications outside the classroom to show that knowledge matters. For instance, if he complains about how learning history is pointless, show him how the topics he’s learning relate to something happening in the world today. The more you show him that what he’s learning remains important even when school is over, the more he’ll understand that knowledge is one of life’s joys. Article Brought To You By: 855 Moro Drive, Gilroy • 51