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How Can I Help My Child with Homework?

By Dr. Ruth Jacoby, Educational Consultant


My child is absolutely ecstatic about going to kindergarten, or "big kid" school as she refers to it. However, we are having a problem with her weekly homework assignment. She refuses to adhere to the guidelines of her assignments. For example she will bring toys for show-and-tell instead of cutting out magazine pictures as assigned. My husband and I have been completing her homework assignments for her. My concern is that this behavior will turn into a consistent aversion to homework.


Homework is a child's home learning assignment, not the parent's. The role of the parent is to "assist" and/or "review." If your child is consistently doing the homework assignment incorrectly, allow the teacher to correct it and to speak with your child. You should not be completing the work for her. Let your child receive the consequences at school. You may want to give the teacher a heads up about the problems that are occurring at home and to conference about setting up a homework chart for your child, where you check off the name of the assignment and when it is completed. This may help to eliminate the problem.

Dr. Ruth Jacoby has been involved in education for more than 30 years as an educator, principal and currently as an educational consultant in Florida. She is the co-author of the School Talk! Success Series including Parent Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication With the School and Your Child, Homework Talk!: The Art of Effective Communication About Your Child's Homework and Test Talk!: Understanding the Stakes and Helping Your Children Do Their Best.

Advice from our experts is not a substitute for professional diagnosis or treatment from a health-care provider or learning expert familiar with your unique situation. We recommend consulting a qualified professional if you have concerns about your child's condition.

Comments from readers

"I have an 8th grader and I have a hard time understanding his math homework, the book does not have enough examples information for me understand the work and help explain it to my child so he can complete the work. help what can I do and tutor is expensive. Kia"
"I am having a hard time keeping up with my kids (3&4th grade) their math homework. I am also having a hard time teaching them how to take the time to do their wrting assignments."
"I have a first grader and third grader, I admit some of the things they are teaching in the classroom I did'nt do when I was going to school so I am a lost sometimes when my children bring homework that I myself don't understand or know how to do and its only 1st and 3rd grade work. What can I do as a parent to learn some of the new teaching methods."
"i am home teaching My kindergartner the problem is when i give him his abc paper to do or a coloring sheet to do, he works on it 10 mins at the most and says he tired now can we take a break :( i say no its not time for break then he says his hand is tired what can i do to keep him interested enough to get thru 4 hrs a day?"
"Very good article, both Q and A. I suggest the teacher be told about the minor problem of homework. I suggest to the teacher that she have the child write the first letter of assigned work or draw a symbol to cue the child's memory (use a daily plan booklet). This will result in independence and positive feelings for all. "
"Homework in kindergarten when they go to school from 9:00 A.M to 3:00 PM ? Burnout is a distinct possibility. I am a retired elementary teacher. "