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What if my Child Can’t do the Homework?

Girl doing homeworkWhen children consistently have difficulty with homework it is important to communicate this concern with your child’s teacher. With the teacher’s help you may be able to identify the source of the problem and figure out the best way to address it.

According to The Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), parents need to remember several things.

Communicate early on when homework issues arise. The earlier the problem is addressed the more likely it is you will be able to find solutions that work. The rest of the school year can be easier for you and your child. (For help knowing how to communicate with your child’s teacher see Forming a Parent-Teacher Partnership to Help a Struggling Child)

Be sure to contact your child’s teacher to work out the problem rather than going directly to the principal or other supervisor. The teacher is the one who works directly with your child and he or she is in the best position to help.

Even though these meetings can be uncomfortable, it is best to approach them with a positive attitude while believing the problems can be solved by working together.

Some possible solutions might include the following.

  • Offering options for how to complete the homework. Many creative children can demonstrate their knowledge through posters, brochures, or presentation software and offering these as a choice when appropriate can help resolve at least some of the issues.
  • Doing a reduced number of problems. If a child works very slowly even while paying attention to the task at hand, he may benefit from doing fewer problems that still cover the concepts.
  • Allowing the child to audio record their responses to questions. Some language learning disabled children know the material, but cannot get their answers onto the page. If allowed to record their answers, they may be able to demonstrate mastery, and they can do the work themselves. The Livescribe Smartpen may be a possible technological solution for recording. The homework could be recorded along with abbreviated answers. Then, the recording and written notes could be saved and given to the teacher to view and hear on their own computer. (To understand how the Smartpen works go to the Livescribe website to watch a video.)
  • If the problems are the result of absences, your child’s teacher may be able to set up a schedule that allows the work to be made up within a reasonable amount of time.

There are many things that can cause children difficulty when doing homework. The most important thing to remember is to not give up. Homework is important. To understand why teachers give homework, read How Can Parents Help With Homework?

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#4 Livia McCoy 2011-02-10 01:10
Thank you, Della! I totally agree with you. Parents are so important in creating the environment where learning and responsibility are "facts of life." Having a positive attitude about school and homework is so helpful.
#3 Della 2011-02-04 15:20
I have been a public school teacher, private school teacher, home schooling parent, college instructor, and private tutor. As I have worked with children in all grade levels and observed the parents' interactions with their children, one of the best things I think that parents can do to help their own children with homework is to have a positive attitude about school, teachers, and homework. If mom and dad make negative comments about the viabilitly or necessity of homework, then the student will not be too eager to get the work done.
Right from the beginning of the school year mom/dad should make every attempt to meet all the teachers and express a desire to work along with the teachers as a "success team" for the student. If parents let children know that there will be no secrets about homework, tests, etc., and that mom and dad will always be aware of what is expected from the teachers, then the students will be less likely to "forget" their assignments. Homework is not necessarily fun, but often necessary for practice in many subjects, especially math and foreign languages. I would recommend parents give their children time off immediately after school - time for play, snacks, outside activities, etc. - before buckling down to do the homework. Who wants to come home from school and start doing schoolwork?
I would also recommend, when possible, that one of the parents be in the room with the child while he/she is trying to do the homework, not necessarily telling the child what to do, but making him/herself available to answer questions the child may have. Some children never ask for help because they don't need it; some don't ask because they don't know what to ask or feel mom/dad wouldn't know how to answer correctly. Some children want the adult to "do" the homework for them, and that is not helpful in the long run for the child. Most importanly, though, is the attitude exhibited by the parents toward the child's assignments, I believe. Positive feedback to the child and positive comments about the need for the work can be very helpful.
#2 Livia McCoy 2011-01-25 21:41
Thank you so much for your comment. I agree with you for the most part. Keep in mind, that my focus is helping those students who are really struggling in school. Many struggling students cannot really benefit from online tutoring services. For these students, homework is a much bigger issue than can be handled online. Online tutoring services and homework help centers are wonderful and help with minor struggles. If a truly struggling student is given their own space to be creative and explore, they may not be able to get any of their homework done.
#1 Marshella Smith 2011-01-25 18:54
Children need their own space so that they can explore their talent and creativity. We, the parents should always stand beside to help them learning different things. We should teach them different subjects in different innovative ways so that they love to learn them.
Parents, especially mother is the best teacher in a child’s life. The way, she can guide a child, no other can! However, sometimes, it becomes hard for the parents to help children doing homework. In that case, they can take advantage of online tutoring services like tutorteddy.com.

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Do you allow your children to watch TV or play on the computer before doing their homework?

Yes - 31.6%
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Total votes: 4919
The voting for this poll has ended on: June 25, 2016