All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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Helping Your Child With Homework

This publication has been adapted from the United States Department of Education’s “Helping Your Child” series. You can see the full report at the Department’s website. This publication was originally written by Nancy Paulu, with updates for the current edition completed by Fran Lehr and Marina Balentine Walne.

Homework: A Concern for the Whole Family

Homework is an opportunity for children to learn and for families to be involved in their children's education. However, helping children with homework isn't always easy. At parent-teacher meetings and in conferences with parents, teachers often hear questions such as:

  • How can I get Michael to do his homework? Every night it's a struggle to get him to turn off the TV and do his homework.
  • Why isn't Maria getting more homework?
  • Why is Jonathan getting so much homework?
  • When is Suki supposed to do homework? She takes piano lessons, sings in her church choir, plays basketball and helps with family chores. There's hardly any time left to study.
  • How can I help Robert with his math homework when I don't understand it?
  • Do homework assignments really help my child learn?

This article helps answer these and other questions that parents, family members, and others who care for children in elementary and middle school often ask about homework. The booklet also includes practical ideas for helping children to complete homework assignments successfully.

The article contains the following sections:

The Basics

  • Why Do Teachers Assign Homework?
  • Does Homework Help Children Learn?
  • What's the Right Amount of Homework?

How to Help: Show That You Think Education and Homework Are Important

  • Set a Regular Time for Homework
  • Pick a Place
  • Remove Distractions
  • Provide Supplies and Identify Resources
  • Set a Good Example
  • Be Interested and Interesting

How to Help: Monitor Assignments

  • Ask about the School's Homework Policy
  • Be Available
  • Look over Completed Assignments
  • Monitor Time Spent Viewing TV and Playing Video Games

How to Help: Provide Guidance

  • Help Your Child Get Organized
  • Encourage Good Study Habits
  • Talk about the Assignments
  • Watch for Frustration
  • Give Praise

How to Help: Talk with Teachers to Resolve Problems

  • Tell the Teacher about Your Concerns
  • Work with the Teacher

Checklist for Helping Your Child with Homework


Please note: In this booklet, we refer to a child as "him" in some places and "her" in others. We do this to make the booklet easier to read. Please understand, however, that every point that we make is the same for girls and boys.

United States Department of Education. "Helping Your Child with Homework." © 2005.

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