How to help with homework without doing it for them

Homework remains a rite of passage for school going children, no matter how many studies or countries claim it isn’t useful (we’re looking at you Finland). We don’t mind when our kids spend 15-20 minutes when they get home doing a few assignments, but when it starts to eat into their well-deserved downtime, it can become a bit of a hassle, and it’s easier on everyone if it just gets done as quick as possible. But since the key to homework is developing a child’s self-directed and independent learning skills, how can we help our kids with their homework without interfering with their learning process and/or doing it for them?

Child led routine

Having a great after-school routine can make all the difference when it comes to your child completing their homework in a happy, timely way. But don’t just tell your child what they have to do when; why not let them decide and figure out their own routine? They might know what’s best for them before they hit the books. Whether that’s having a quick play outside before they settle down, a snack or just some quiet time.

Whatever way you choose to set it up, make it consistent, but don’t be afraid to test out the details at this early stage of the school year.

Determine your involvement based on age

If your child is getting older and more independent, then they might be ready to start tackling their homework on their own. Junior and senior infants will need more attention than older age groups, but each and every child is different. You know your child best, so tease out when he or she needs you beside them and when you can give them the freedom to tackle assignments on their own.

READ: Signs that your child needs glasses.
Don’t hover

Unless they’re just starting in Junior infants this week, don’t be afraid to leave them to it and let them get themselves set up on their own. Chances are they’ll ask you for help when they need it! If you think your child is happy to take a run at it independently let them – but don’t go too far. Stay in the same room and do some work of your own, or start prepping dinner. Having you close to help can reassure them if they get stuck.

Rules that stick

One thing that’s fairly universal among households is no TV or screen time until homework is over and in this ever growing digital age, ne’er a truer thing was said. Screens, whether they be TV, iPads, phones or computers have trance-like effects on our brains (that’s why we can watch all of Grey’s Anatomy in one weekend and not notice how or why we did it!).

So if you have house rules like no screen time before dinner, make sure you keep to that!


Let us know what your after-school routine is like in the comments!

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