Children Need to Do Most Homework Independently

Question: My third-grader wants me to sit beside her when she is doing her homework, even though she can do most of the work by herself. Is this a good idea? - Homework Problem

Answer: You certainly don't want your child to get in the habit of relying on you for constant homework help, or you'll be sitting beside her for years to come. From the first day that children ever bring homework home, parents should have them work on it as independently as possible. This doesn't mean that you won't be involved in their homework, because parents should teach children how to handle homework.

You need to teach your daughter how to organize her work so that she can proceed by herself with confidence. Begin by looking over the assignments with your child, and help her determine which one she will do first. Children usually should begin with the most difficult assignment, when they feel fresh.

Next you will want to teach your daughter to read the directions before beginning any assignment. This includes carefully studying the examples that usually follow the directions. If after reading the directions and studying the examples your daughter still does not have a clear idea of how to begin an assignment, reread the directions and study the examples with her. Then watch her get started on the assignment to make sure that she knows how to do it. If she doesn't, then it's appropriate to do some teaching, so she can handle the rest of the assignment by herself. If your child simply cannot handle her homework without considerable help from you, it's time to talk to her teacher.

As you teach your child how to do her homework independently, you are also teaching her good study skills that can be used in the classroom. It will also help to teach your child to write her assignments down in a notebook and to show her how to organize all her school papers so that she can use them to review for tests. Be sure to teach your daughter to put all her papers in a book bag when her homework is done so she can avoid early-morning searches for missing work.