Helping your kids with homework, redux, pt. the seventyteenth

I’m sure this has been debated/discussed before many times, but since it’s now my daughter involved ( :wink: ), I need to ask again:

What is the parents role in assisting a child with their homework? Is it to make sure that every answer is right or to make sure that all questions are answered (regardless of whether they are correct or not), or what?

The child in question is 7 years-old and in the first grade. She has anywhere between 1-4 pages of homework each night, which takes her about 15 minutes to one hour to complete (depending upon how serious she is in attacking it). My wife is of the opinion that we are to make sure that Sophie gets everything correct, I’m of the opinion that we need to make sure she gets it done and we should leave it to the teacher to catch any mistakes (within reason of course - if she gets all her sums wrong, then we need to work with her to help her understand the concept).

Appreciate the advice!

In my experience, you cannot count on the teacher catching mistakes.

Often assignments are “peer-graded” by classmates. And others are merely checked for completion, rather than content. For example, it was rare for written assignments to be corrected for spelling, grammar, etc.

So my answer is you should participate to the extent you personally feel it important. Some assignments mainly just need to be completed to get credit for completion. Others must be done of a certain quality, to ensure to your satisfaction that the kid has mastered important material.

As a parent it takes some effort to develop between which assignments are “busy work” and which you could provide useful input on. In my experience, my kids benefitted more from my reviewing their written work, as I feel they got insufficient school assistance on critical thinking and clear communication.

Good luck.

With my kids, when I review their homework - normally only if they ask for help OR if it seems TOO easy - then I ask how they got the answer on a particular problem. Since yours is only seven, it’s probably a bit more rote memorization stuff, iirc. Anyway, I use it as a check to see if they’re getting the answers right and giving the problems adequate thought process on more complex problems. If I think that they are struggling on a particular type of problem, I give them extra problems to solve. For example, last week my son was strugging a bit with some long division problems. I showed him an alternative method to solve the type of problem and then had him do several more while I watched and asked him to reason out loud.

I do homework with my twelve-year-old boy.

If we’re doing math, I do make it my aim to have him get all the answers correct. Not because I want him to have an A on his homework, but because I need to know he understands the concept. He also gets wrong answers sometimes because the work is so messy I can’t read the numbers and he can’t either! So we’ve got to iron that out.

With a writing assignment, I keep a loose rein, because otherwise I tend to get overinvolved to the point where I’m practically dictating the damn thing. I have to check them, though, because that boy just doesn’t try! First day this year, he brought home a getting-to-know you type questionnaire from the teacher with questions like “What is your favorite subject in school?”, “Do you have any hobbies?”, and “Tell me something interesting about yourself”, and he had filled in a lot of I don’t knows and claimed that his hobby was sleeping. Grrrrrr!

So I guess my answer to your question is that I don’t correct and polish everything up…unless it’s math.

I mostly check for completion. But I’ll often tell my kid, “You have 3 problems wrong, go look it over again.” If they can’t find their errors, or don’t understand the problem, then I’ll help them more specifically only if requested. Their homework, their grade, their choice. I’m willing to be a resource they can utilize, but their homework is not my problem.

And if there’s something that I can’t explain and be sure they understand, then they should leave it wrong so the teacher can see where the mistakes are. I think it’s important NOT to supply the correct answer if the kid can’t come up with it themselves.

Say the class is learning long division, and maybe the kid is doing this: 948/4 = 212

It’s clear that they got the “divide 9 by 4” part, but they didn’t get the “and then subtract 2*4=8 from 9 to get 1 and bring down your 4 and divide 14 by 4”. Instead, they’re dividing 9 by 4 and 4 by 4 and 8 by 4. Common error in beginners. And I’ll try to explain it if he asks why it’s wrong, and hope that I’m a better teacher than the teacher. But if the kid doesn’t get it or resists (my son would often start crying if I “contradicted” his teacher or used a different method than she did) then I let him turn in the homework with the errors - it’s important that his teacher know he doesn’t understand the material so that she can find a different way to teach it.

One other thought - enjoy reviewing your 7-year old’s homework if for no reason other than you have a good chance of understanding it. Just wait till they get to high school and you are constantly reminded of how much you’ve forgotten - or never learned! :stuck_out_tongue:

Oh God, we went through some horrible scenes last year, and my son would panic if I tried to just let it go. When he gets like that, I ask his sister or my husband to take over. Sometimes it helps.

I guess it depends on the child.

I have one (12 years old) that requires almost no supervision and rare assistance. She can do the work, but sometimes chooses to not do it. She enjoys the rewards and suffers the consequences accordingly.

The other one (10 years old) needs daily monitoring and extra assistance. He has great difficulty mastering the concepts and needs a high amount of repitition- enough that DH has developed an evolving home school like program for him. We work closely with his teachers every year about what they are learning now and what is coming up next. He does not have any diagnosed learning disabilities, but clearly would not pass much without a large amount of home support.

Our goal is to eventually wean the 10 year old off the extra support- a goal that we think and hope can be met by helping him build a solid foundation and study habits early.

Yep. Like so many other parenting things, YMMV. My kid is happier not knowing for now and asking his teacher in the morning. When I was a kid, I’d have gnawed my left arm off with the anxiety of not understanding something for a whole 15 hours! :smiley:

Have you asked the teacher what level of involvement she expects?

My parents used to check my homework for completion when I was in first grade. Later they’d usually just ask if I had had any problems and they’d help me practice for tests. When I started fifth grade (at a new school), one of my teachers started talking about parents being involved with our homework - my mom was surprised that they seemed to expect more than my old school. My parents didn’t become more involved though (they both worked outside the home), and I managed fine.

IMHO, the parents should NOT be expected to correct their children’s homework: This practise puts children with parents who can’t or won’t help them (for example because they don’t speak english well themselves) at a huge disatvantage, and the teacher might get a wrong impression on the skills of kids whose parents do help them. However, many schools expect parents to help, especially with young children.

ETA: I’m not opposed to parents helping their children if needed, but I think teachers shouldn’t assign homework that children can’t do on their own.

I don’t agree with that. If the kids who have parents who can/will help, do so - then that leaves the teacher more time/energy to help the kids who are lacking that resource. Plus, I think it helps the parents gain a more accurate assessment of their childs abilities - if the kid & parents are honest. I also think that checking for correctness gives the kid an extra bit of confidence in the classroom, which can be important.

For me & my daughter, it’s a bit of correcting and reviewing for completion. She’s in a dual language immersion program, so she has a language arts class and social studies in a language that I don’t speak. So for math, english and science I check for correctness - which mostly involves telling her which answers are wrong so she can fix it. For the other classes I look to see if the work is done.

One good thing about checking for correctness is that you can reduce the amount of time the kid spends practicing the wrong thing, especially in math. Reinforcing the wrong thing through practice just makes it harder later. Consider having them show you the first three problems for correctness, just to see if they’re on the right track, and then check the rest of the assignment later for completeness.

I’m using an online program (My Math Lab) that came with our textbooks for the College Algebra class I’m taking now, and I have to say that *instant *feedback, not just of completion, but of correctness, is making the subject boatloads easier. If I forget that the Quadratic Formula starts with a negative sign, I’m reminded after I get the first problem wrong, so I don’t keep practicing the formula without the negative.

But “checking for correctness” doesn’t mean giving them the answer.

Why are you asking us? Ask his teacher!

Whatever you decide to do, make sure you let the teacher know. If you correct the homework, she/he won’t get a misconception of the class’s understanding. If you don’t correct it, the teacher will know that she/he needs to check out the kid’s work closely.

Just to be clear - I don’t neccessarily think parents shouldn’t correct their child’s homework, but I think it’s bad when teachers expect all of them to do this. For example, kids shouldn’t be regularly assigned homework that includes instructions above their reading levels. Teachers should check homework for correctness, or go through all of the problems, doing a few sample problems on the board and giving out answers so that the students can check their own work. (In an ideal school system I would like there to be no homework for kids under 10, but that won’t happen anyway.)

In my experience, teachers won’t give more attention to kids whose parents didn’t help them with their homework - some of mine even got annoyed when asked questions. Again, I don’t think parents shouldn’t be involved in their kids’ homework, but a school system that relies on that won’t be fair or effective, IMHO.

I agree–you should ask the teacher!

Someone asked this question at my son’s Open School Night. He’s 6 and also in the first grade.

She told us that we should, if possible, work with them and help them get the correct answers. So, yes, in my case, I do review it for correctness and to make sure everything is done.

Maybe that will change in later years, but for now, that’s what I do.

I’ve discovered that with my daughter I’m best off if I give a lot of guidance and stay involved.

Last night she had a list of words to get into alphabetical order. She can do this, but the quantity of words - and her inherent sloppiness (she isn’t a detailed person) was getting her frustrated. So I just taught her a trick - we rewrote the words on individual slips of paper she could move around, she alphabetized them - then transferred them onto the sheet. I helped a little so she stayed focused.

She was doing graphs and was looking at a bar 12 high, moving her finger over, and writing eleven or thirteen. I taught her to use a straight edge to read the graph so she didn’t make so many mistakes.

I check her answers and we (she - although to keep in moving, sometimes my hints are pretty obvious) correct the ones she got wrong - in part because if its “doing your homework” its done fast - and wrong. If its “doing your homework right” - then she is STARTING to learn to take the time to get it right the first time rather than rushing through to done.

Both my kids are in or past college, so I’ve had a lot of experience with this.

We didn’t ask the teacher. The skill levels of parents in our current area vary widely, and I don’t think the answer for us would be the answer for them.

Our answer depended on the subject. For German, we went through the word list, since that was a far easier way for my daughter to test herself than doing it herself. Since only she could learn the stuff, there was no issue with doing it for her.

For a lot of subjects we tried to correct deficiencies in the texts. I’ve read enough history to put context around the dates in the history books, and my wife could explain the concepts in the biology texts a different way. I tried to stay to the method in the book for math, but worked harder on the process than the answers.

My wife is a writer, so she spent a lot more time helping with that, since she can’t stand anything being turned in with errors. It was painful, but they both can write quite well on their own now, and her instruction was better than what they got in class.

But I think the biggest help was just being available and involved.

I have a 16 year old and an 8 year old. The 16 yo is responsible for her own homework, both correctness and being done – unless she asks for help. What we do with the 8 yo is to make sure it is done and to check the answers. I will tell him when there are errors, if he chooses to correct them, that’s fine. If not, it’s his choice. We think that personal responsibility is more important than 100% perfect grades. I don’t, never have and never will do my children’s homework or projects – they will get the grade they worked for, nothing more nothing less.

Yes, we talked to her teacher earlier and her advice is to assist Sophie on her homework by sitting with her and going over each problem. I guess the question is are we supposed to emphasize:

  1. Correct answers
  2. Developing good homework habits

Also, it’s as interesting to read of the different styles of other parents as it is to do how the boss (teacher) says. Moreso, imho. :wink:

I’m glad you asked the teacher, as they are likely to have opinions about it.

My son’s teacher doesn’t want us to correct his work. He needs to know if he’s getting things wrong and what’s giving him problems.

He also doesn’t want us to fight with him about getting it done. Give him a time, place, and encouragement, but if he doesn’t do it, he has to answer to his teacher, not us.

I make sure he understands the directions and knows what is expected. His mistakes stand, even if they drive me bonkers. And I generally try to sit and give him company while he works. I’ll read a cookbook, draw up a grocery list, etc. But I offer little help.

Incidentally, last year my son had almost no homework. His school reviewed some research on it and were swayed by studies which showed that homework, in lower elementary grades, had little effect on student learning. K-2 had no homework. They had optional homework available for 3rd grade kids who were motivated or had parents who couldn’t let go of the idea that their child should be doing work at home. This year, as a 4th grader, he has a moderate amount.