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Homework Headaches? How to Help Without Taking Over

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When you're trying to give your child a hand with homework, it's difficult to find the balance between helping and doing too much. You want him to succeed and get good grades, but you also want him to learn to be self-motivated and independent. Check out these tips that will give you ideas on how to give your child some homework help without doing his assignments for him.

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Your kid is stumped by his homework, so you give him a few pointers. But before you know it, you find yourself doing his homework for him! How will he ever learn how to do it on his own? Learn how to support good study habits and encourage your student to be a self-starter.

Create a Study Space

Figure out what makes a productive workspace for your child. Does he work best in a quiet spot or an area with a little background noise? A well-lit desk, especially one near natural light, is a safe bet. Help him focus by limiting distractions during his study time and making sure that all the materials he needs, such as erasers, rulers, and a pencil sharpener, are within reach.

Help Your Child Get Organized

Help him keep track of his assignments with a checklist or a homework planner. Star the assignments that are most important and mark the assignments that will take the most time. Write the list with him for the first week to help make it a habit, and then let him do it on his own. Make sure he has an organized folder or binder so that he won’t lose all those loose papers.

Work on Time Management

Have your child make a daily schedule for himself that he can use to practice estimating the amount of time it will take to do certain activities. Adjust the schedule together based on how long things actually took, and show him how he can use it to plan ahead. To avoid procrastinating when long-term projects come around, help your child apply the same strategy and divide the project into smaller, more manageable tasks.

Set a Routine

Is it easier for your child to do his homework right when he gets home or after he's had some time to rest? Does he need a brain break every half hour, or does he work better with bigger chunks of uninterrupted time? You may have to experiment to see what schedule will help your child be most productive, but once you find the sweet spot, stick to it. Setting a routine will help him get into study mode quickly and easily.

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Get Your Child Unstuck

Give your kid some guidance on his homework without doing his work for him. If he’s having trouble getting started, try rewording the directions in a simpler way. If he’s stumped on a math problem, use different numbers to walk him through an example, and let him try the problem over again. If he’s stuck on a writing prompt, write the first sentence with him to get the momentum going.

Review His Work

It’s okay to check your child’s work when he’s finished an assignment, but don’t correct answers for him. If you see a mistake, you can point it out, but don’t fix it yourself. To encourage his independence, you can help him create a “proofing checklist” with spelling, grammar, and math rules that he can use to review his homework on his own.

Your role is to help your child become a self-sufficient student, not to ensure that he has perfect homework. After helping him create good study habits, stop stepping in, even if it means he gets a couple bad grades. To be successful in the long run, the responsibility to do his work well must be his, not yours.

If the homework headaches continue, you may consider getting a tutor. Learn how to get the most out of your child's tutor by reading this article.

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