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Parents and Homework

Education Expert Advice from Peggy Gisler, Ed.S. and Marge Eberts, Ed.S.

Q: Our 11-year-old daughter is starting sixth grade this year in an intermediate school. She has always relied too much on our help to do her homework. Is there a rule of thumb about how much input a parent should have in sixth-grade homework?

A: Many parents don't realize that the more responsibility they take for making sure homework gets completed, the more irresponsible their children will become. You definitely need to cut back on helping your daughter with her homework. By sixth grade, parents should have very little involvement in the nightly homework.

Have you been helping your daughter because she has real problems doing the work, or has it simply become a habit? If it's because she has problems, get help to improve her skills. Otherwise, gradually wean her from your assistance.

You need to help your daughter gain confidence in her ability to work alone. Don't sit beside her watching everything she does. Instead, help her get started. Discuss what assignments she has and which one she will tackle first. Starting with an easy one could be a confidence-builder.

Have your daughter read or tell you the directions for the first assignment and the steps she'll take to do it. Then watch her begin the assignment. If she has problems, help her get started by rereading directions and studying examples. Once she understands what she is doing, expect her to complete the work on her own. Let your daughter know that you will be willing to check over her work when it's done as well as help her get started on her other assignments, if necessary.

To better organize doing homework, help your daughter establish a set time to do it every evening. Teach her to write down daily assignments in an assignment pad and long-term assignments on a calendar and to check them in planning her study time. Gradually, your daughter should learn how to organize and complete her homework independently.

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Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 educational publications to their credit. They began writing books together in 1979. Careers for Bookworms was a Book-of-the-Month Club paperback selection, and Pancakes, Crackers, and Pizza received recognition from the Children's Reading Roundtable. Gisler and Eberts taught in classrooms from kindergarten through graduate school. Both have been supervisors at the Butler University Reading Center.


Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of FamilyEducation.com should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.

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