How Much Should You Help Your Child with Schoolwork?

How much help should you give your child with schoolwork? It all depends upon the child’s age, abilities, and the type of assignment. While some parents do not help enough, others go overboard.

In teaching, I see many different levels of help from parents. However, there are two types that bother the most. Those are the parents that give children no help with schoolwork and the parents that receive basically no help from the child on the work.

Periodically, we send home long-term projects for the children to complete. For example, in the winter, we send home a blank snowman for the children to decorate. We give instructions describing how children can use buttons and glitter and fabric, etc. to create their snowmen. When the snowmen are returned, we always have a large variety arranging from blue crayon scribbled snowmen to very expensive, elaborately dressed snow creatures. The snowmen that appeal the most to me are the ones in the middle. They are well thought out giving a hint of parental involvement, yet capable of being completed by a child.

Projects are not the only assignments that show various levels of parental involvement. Homework can also be an indicator. On different occasions I have received pieces of homework completed by parents. No one has to tell me that the parent or older sibling had a hand in the work. It is often very easy to tell the difference in a five year old’s handwriting and someone of a much older age. For whatever reason, some parents sporadically complete their child’s homework. My assumptions are either that the child was not academically capable of the work, that the child was too tired or occupied to complete the work, or that the parents do not have enough control to make the child complete the work. Regardless, the parents are not helping their child by doing the work.

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