How Much Should You Help With Homework?


It starts innocently enough. Your first grader asks you to help him glue photos onto a giant poster that reads, “All About Me”. They ask you for ideas. What are my favorite things, Mom? What do I want to be when I grow up? You work with your child, excited that they are eager to complete their work for school. A few years pass, and you sit down and help your fourth grader with math. You don’t really understand the strategies they’re using because you simply “know how to do it”. You long for the days of “old math” and struggle to spend an hour on four problems because they have to explain EVERYTHING. Then they need help with an essay…and a science project…and a diorama. Before you know it, you as a parent are dreading homework time just as much, if not more, than your child! So how much help is TOO much? We found some great advice from

Elementary School
In elementary school, homework focuses on concepts children are studying in class, and its purpose is to practice and reinforce what’s already been learned, says Brianna Leonhard, certified teacher, board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA), and founder of Third Row Adventures. As such, children should be able to do the vast majority of their homework independently, without much help.

Still, many children want or need a bit of help with their homework in elementary school, and that’s perfectly normal. Try an “I do / We do / You do” model for doing homework together with your child.

“A parent may do the first question, then they complete the second question with their child, and finally, the child completes the final question on their own,” Rigg, a literacy and reading specialist, describes. This idea can be adapted to whatever homework or academic skills your child is working on. “It allows parents to be involved and supportive of their child’s education, but also leads children to develop independence.”

Middle School
As children grow, homework will become more of an independent task. However, they may need some hand-holding as they make the transition from elementary school to middle school, where they are suddenly getting homework from multiple teachers instead of just one.

During the tween and early teen years, you can support them by helping them strategize how to address all of their work. You can implement “scaffolding”, which involves helping them break up tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks, and setting up clear daily goals.

High School
Homework during high school should still be mostly about practicing skills already taught and is not meant to teach new material, so if a parent is having to spend time teaching their tween or teen the material covered on the homework, they should reach out to the child’s teacher in the event they’re having trouble grasping what’s being studied in class.

That said, homework in high school can be challenging, and your child might struggle because of the increasing difficulty in topics. If your child can mostly complete the task at hand but needs a little additional help from you from time to time, that’s typically not a problem.

Students with learning disabilities such as ADHD may need more parental assistance with homework, says Riggs. That’s also typical and okay. “Parents can also support teenagers who may need assistance with studying and organizational skills while helping find strategies that work for their children to prepare them for adulthood.”

My Child Never Asks for Help
Some kids never seem to need help with homework, and that can be just as confusing for parents as kids who need endless help. If your child is getting by without help, there’s no need to intervene.

“As long as a parent knows that the child is completing the required homework, meeting the grade-level expectations, and understanding the content, then this is perfectly fine,” Riggs says. “Parents should make sure they are asking their independent children about what they’re learning, what their homework is, and offering help if they need it.”

No one ever said parenting has a one-size-fits-all approach. As always, trust your gut and do what’s right for your family. But remember, at the end of the day, your child will eventually go out into the world without you beside him. It’s important that they always feel supported, and that they have the skills to do things independently with confidence.


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