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Headaches over Homework?

Girl day dreaming

"It's too hard!" has become your child's battle cry. You can't do your child's homework for him, so what can you do? Try these tips from the U.S. Department of Education.

  • Contact the teacher as soon as you suspect your child has a homework problem (or any major schoolwork problem). Schools must keep parents informed, and you have a right to be upset if you don't find out until report-card time that your child is having difficulties. However, you may see a problem before the teacher does. By alerting the teacher, you can work together on a solution.

  • Approach the teacher with a cooperative spirit. Believe that the teacher wants to help, even if you disagree about something. If you have a complaint, try not to put the teacher on the defensive. You might say, "I'm worried about why Rachel can't finish her math homework, and what we might do to help her." Don't go straight to the principal without giving the teacher a chance to work out the problem with you and your child.

  • Let the teacher know if your child is bored with assignments or finds them too hard or too easy. Teachers don't have time to tailor homework to the needs of each student. But most teachers do want to assign homework that children enjoy and can complete successfully, and they welcome feedback from parents.

  • Work out a way to solve or lessen the problem. Your strategy will depend on the problem and your child's needs.

  • Is the homework often too hard? Your child may have fallen behind and will need extra help from a tutor, teacher, or parent to catch up.

  • Is there a suspicion or diagnosis of a learning disability? If so, you'll need to make sure your child gets extra help, and the teacher may need to adjust some assignments.

  • Does your child need extra support, beyond what home and school can give? Ask the teacher, guidance counselor, or principal if there are mentor programs in your community. Mentor programs pair a child with an adult volunteer to help with the youngster's special needs, such as tutoring or career advice.

  • Follow-up to make sure that the approach you agreed to is working. Check back with the teacher in a month to talk about your child's progress.
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