When it comes to your child, a parent should be heavily involved. Although when it comes to homework, that involvement should be tempered by a few factors.

A parent’s role in homework depends on the age of your children. The younger the children are, the more assistance they need. In early elementary years, that means reviewing/quizzing them on spelling words, sitting with them while they read, going over math flash cards etc. Always have them at least attempt the task, before you jump in to “help” with the answer or to sound out the word for them for example.

By the middle of their elementary years, the parent role should be more of “checking” their homework after it is complete and answering any questions they have. Younger middle school age children may need assistance with organization and time management and quizzing prior to tests etc. By seventh and eighth grade, the bulk of the work should be done by the child and parents are there for any questions or of course needed supplies. By high school, the goal would be to have them managing the work load themselves, including projects, unless they need assistance again with supplies or proof reading of a paper or quizzing before tests.

In essence, parents start with providing their child with a lot of assistance when they are young, and then gradually pull back and let them become more independent.

I know it’s our instinct as parents to help our children. But working with them on homework can hurt their sense of accomplishment if mom or dad planned the project, organized it, and “created” it, but the child got an A. That is really the parent’s grade, not the child’s. Let them learn by doing. They will appreciate their successes and learn from their challenges and things that did not go as they would have hoped.

Parents can play a role in helping their child balance their workload. Parents really can’t control the amount of homework a teacher assigns and shouldn’t feel as though it is something to contact the teacher about to negotiate. For older kids, parents can help “control” the process by means of the courses they help their child choose. If a child is taking all pre-advanced placement or AP classes they can expect to be loaded with homework every night.

If that’s too intense for your child, choose a more balanced approach; maybe one or two AP classes and see how they manage that, or perhaps regular classes may be the best option for them. Don’t “rescue” your kids and do homework for them. They need to learn how to manage their time and plan their schedule accordingly. Tough lessons may be learned if they aren’t able to meet deadlines, but no lesson is learned if parents jump in and do it for them.

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