What to Do When Your Child's Homework is Over Your Head

What to Do When Your Child's Homework is Over Your Head

What to Do When Your Child's Homework is Over Your Head

It happens to the best of us. Even the most astute parents sometimes feel like failed contestants on Are You Smarter Than a Fifth-Grader? But where do you turn when you don't know the answers to your kids' homework? This is a frustration expressed by several Circle of Moms members with school-age children.

While it's never a good idea to do your child's homework for her (as Circle of Moms member Sylvia G. states, emphatically, "I don't do my daughter's homework for her."), there are important reasons to keep track of what she's studying. Staying abreast of the curriculum will help you be ready to review her answers before she hands in her work, as Circle of Moms Debbie F. points out. You might be able to offer suggestions or zero in on problem areas that need more help. And your involvement will broadcast to your child that both she and her efforts at school are important to you.

Here are three ideas to help you become your child's mentor and supporter rather than a knower-of-all-answers.


1. Do the Reading

Many moms say Google is a great resource for basic answers to factual questions, such as "At what temperature does water freeze?" But when it comes to homework assignments that require analysis, you may need to go deeper. One suggestion, albeit time-consuming, is to read your child's reading assignments along with him. You will likely stand a better chance of comprehending reading material when it comes to answering questions than a young person who might still be developing strong reading skills.

2. Model Doing the Work

And instead of enabling him by looking up the answer, model for him what it takes to search for an answer he might not know. If it's a true/false question, read each one aloud, and then go back to the reading material together to look for the answer. If it's a math problem, get out the abacus or the flash cards and start from scratch. This may be time-consuming, but it will help build your child's confidence.

3. Get an Answer Key from the Teacher

Another idea that friends of mine have tried, with great success, is to ask teachers to provide answer keys so that they can easily track their daughter's work. This allows you to "play teacher" at home, while letting you off the hook if you don't know the answer to a question.


Image Source: Courtesy of NJLA: New Jersey Libray Association via Flickr/Creative Commons

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