Life Times Newsletter

September/October 2002
Vol. 4, No. 5

Avoid the homework hassle

As children start back to school, homework can be a stressful issue for both parents and children. There is a lot of focus now on raising performance on standard testing, so our children may be doing even more homework in the future.

Some researchers have said that parents who let their kids take the lead in homework teach the best lesson. However, this does not mean that parents will not worry or get stressed over their child’s homework assignments.

There seems to be a fine line between showing concern and interest in a child’s homework and taking it over. We want to be there when our children ask for help, but one goal of homework is to help children work on their own and manage the resources that will help them. If we are constantly checking to see if homework is getting done "right," our children may tend to feel that whatever they do is not good enough.

According to research, children who do best in school have parents who show interest in their work. It is very important to listen to their ideas, pay attention to what they are learning and give help when it seems appropriate. Early encouragement of consistency and routine will help to support good homework skills.

The age of your child can determine how much "help" is required. Younger children, perhaps up to the third grade, need a parent to be available to step in if necessary. Some children like to know that a parent is nearby at homework time, while others may prefer to work alone. Children this age can be conflicted at times, wanting to do homework by themselves at the same time as they seem to want help. This conflict may cause a child to be "grouchy" and even reject any suggestions that a parent thinks is appropriate.

With older children, the need may be for help in organizing assignments rather than a physical presence. They may prefer not to have parents around, but still need to feel the interest and support of the parents.

Suggestions that may help avoid the homework hassle

Source: Mizzou Magazine, University of Missouri-Columbia, Fall 1996.

Maudie Kelly, MS
Human Development Specialist

Return to the Life Times Newsletter main page

University of Missouri Extension Editor: Roxanne T. Miller