Homework help: How much is too much? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Homework help: How much is too much?

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Healthy parental involvement with the homework process is essential while too much help can have detrimental long-term effects. Healthy parental involvement with the homework process is essential while too much help can have detrimental long-term effects.

(RNN) - Summer is drawing to a close, schools are opening back up all over the country, and soon, parents will once again start hearing kids' eternal complaint that homework and school will never help them in the future.

But while students may not always use a lot of algebra later in life, the skills they develop doing homework will stay with them.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, homework not only allows students to review what they have learned in class and to explore subjects more fully, it also teaches them self-discipline, responsibility and how to work independently.

They may not remember what the square of the hypotenuse equals or how many electrons are in a hydrogen atom, but the time they spend learning and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing an assignment will stay with them.

When helping can hurt

When parents are too involved with homework assignments and give their children answers or complete projects for them, it can diminish the independence that homework is meant to teach and can even make the kids become lackluster students.

"If a parent completes homework for a child, it has a negative impact because that is what the child expects. In the real world, they will look for someone who will do it for them. It tends to serve as a reinforcement of dependent behavior," said Dr. Jan Oliver, associate professor and chairman of the department of education at Troy University.

Parents may think that due to time constraints, completing homework for their child is helping more than hurting, but it can have long-term effects.

Peggy Fillio, a spokeswoman for the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB), says that she has seen students who weren't required to learn on their own, struggle in college.

"We'll sometimes hear about freshmen who go to college and hit the wall. And it's because they've never had to do it all by themselves. They haven't developed the study skills and the perseverance that it takes to be able to compete and come up with things that are a bit harder to do," Fillio said.

Fillio says that asking questions that encourage students to come to their own conclusions is a healthy way to avoid doing the work for them.

"Sometimes parents try to help too much … parents aren't doing this because they're bad parents, they're doing it because they care about their kids and are trying to make life easier for them," she said.

"Parents need to learn how to look at their children and say 'I know this is really hard, but you can do it.' The most important questions parents can ask kids are 'Why do you think that?' or 'Why do you think that might be happening?' rather than giving them the answers."

Striking the balance

However, a healthy dose of parental involvement in the homework process is essential.

The U.S. Department of Education stresses the importance of parents' interest and involvement in their child's homework habits. If students know their parents are interested and care, then they tend to be motivated.

Dr. Karl Kirkland, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist in Montgomery, AL, said that a good way for parents to show they care is by simply being a good role model.

"Kids who come from families with parents who read, study and are good role models show positive results. Parents should try reading the same books that students are reading and then discussing the material with them," Kirkland said.

Below are a few healthy ways that parents can help their children with homework

  • Set a regular time for homework to begin
  • Limit cell phone, music and TV use during homework time
  • Meet with teachers and learn what their expectations are
  • Offer encouragement and praise
  • Help organize a nightly schedule
  • Make sure a student is well-prepared prior to starting homework
  • Provide a clean study space
  • Set a good example

As school starts up and the complaints roll in, parents must remember to remind their children of the importance of what they're learning and just how bright it might make their future.

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