Parenting In Focus: About homework, whose issue is it?

Your child has an assignment due tomorrow. He wants you to help. In fact, he wants you to do it.

Homework battles frequently occur at these kind of times. They may even occur more now when school is trying to keep youngsters up on each subject, despite the pandemic.

So how much should you help? It’s a tough question. There are no right or wrong answers, except if you do the work for him. Remember, there are some things you can do to help your child complete his own homework:

Understand how much homework is expected of your child. Many times this information is given out at the beginning of the year. But if it isn’t totally clear to you, call his teacher and find out what is expected. Knowing exactly what is expected helps keep your child on track. When you know what is expected it helps you do a good job of following through with him.

Make sure your child has enough time to do the work. Don’t let other activities prevent him from doing homework. Homework should be a high priority.

Have a specific place for your child to do his work. The dining room table is great. Sometimes it is difficult for a child to complete work in his own room. It also helps to have him close by so you can talk about how he is doing.

Let your child see your interest in how he is doing. Ask questions about what he is accomplishing. Make comments to him when you see him doing a good job. We all need to hear when we are doing well.

Ask about his outcome. We frequently ask our children why they did something that was wrong. Perhaps it would be better to ask the question, how did his homework assignment turn out. Pay attention to his successes and let him know that “I am proud of the work you did. I’ll bet you felt good about what you did.”

Asking about his assignment success helps him build positive feelings about himself and makes him feel more like doing the next assignment.

Just these few ideas will help get things started in a good way. Your child needs you to be involved. When he sees you think homework is important, it becomes more important to him. It is also likely to cause him to put more into the next assignment.

As a parent, one of your tasks is to pay attention to the positive not just the negative. Help your child become excited about the many new things he learns at school and at home. Praise each new skill. Smile at him as he tries new tasks.

Talk about it at dinner. Let him hear and see your delight as he learns the excitement of learning.

Cynthia Martin is the founder of the First Teacher program and former executive director of Parenting Matters Foundation, which publishes newsletters for parents, caregivers and grandparents. For more information, email to or call 360-681-2250.