Some school districts don’t give homework assignments until the second grade. Others start in kindergarten. No matter when your child starts to get homework, it’s important to be able to discern when he or she needs help – and know how to provide assistance. The purpose of homework, as explained in a PBS article, “is designed to help students reinforce key concepts, process and solidify new information, provide time for extra practice of skills, and reflect on how much they’ve learned.”

Overall, teachers use homework as a benchmark to monitor what your child knows – which is why it’s counterproductive to do any of your child’s homework yourself. What is helpful: ensuring your child finishes homework on time, supporting him or her through the process. It can also be helpful to review completed homework, to see if you can provide insight into any mistakes being made.homework-help.jpg

Also monitor your child’s natural rhythms so you can determine when it’s best to start homework time in your home. Some children do well when they do their homework immediately after school, freeing up the rest of the evening, while others definitely need a break first. Most children benefit from a snack right after school. (We recently blogged about easy, cheap and healthy snacks.) Likewise, watch to see how your child studies best. Some children learn by writing out spelling words, the article notes as just one example, while others succeed by closing their eyes and spelling the words out loud.

The U.S Department of Education offers a helpful checklist for homework help. Items include providing what your child needs to study, such as paper, books, pencils and a well-lit and reasonably quiet place to study. Does he or she need an assignment book? Folders and a book bag to help organize homework materials?

Demonstrate, whenever you can, how the skills your child is learning will be important to know as an adult, and help your child understand how to schedule enough time to complete homework. Also work with your child’s teacher to address any challenges with homework and follow up to determine if the plan is working. You can find significantly more homework resources from the U.S. Department of Education.

Homework Help: Time for Tutoring?

By the time children are in middle school or high school, more than 25 percent of families have hired tutors. According to a survey cited in, nearly 50 percent of surveyed parents who chose to use tutors did so because their children needed more homework help than they could provide. Other reasons tutors were hired included children struggling to keep up in class and lower grades.

It can be helpful to talk to teachers and determine what tutoring or other homework help is available through the school system. Also ask about online resources, which could include videos trusted by the teacher – and even actual online tutoring. There may be tutoring centers in your community (the article says to expect to pay $50 to $150 an hour, with tutoring taking place one to two hours per month for several months). No matter what form of tutoring assistance you pick, carefully check credentials of the tutor, as well as his or her specialties and availability.

The article also suggests you get help when you first recognize your child is having a hard time with homework, rather than waiting. This will help to prevent him or her from falling behind and becoming frustrated during the process of catching up.

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