8 More Homework Help Ideas: Simple Solutions for Parents

Homework Help: Simple Solutions for Parents

Last week, we looked at solving basic homework issues for families who want less struggle over nightly homework. So, basically, everyone. (If you haven’t read it, take a minute and start there. I promise it’ll be worth your time.)

But especially if you have older kids, you may have been left wondering how to help your kids with those homework questions they don’t know how to do — or maybe you’re wondering if you should try to help at all.

Don’t worry. You’re not alone! Many parents wonder how they can help or if they should. After all, you already went through 9th grade history. It’s your child’s turn to shine! But what do you do if they ask for help? Well, here are some ideas for appropriate homework help from a former teacher and math tutor:

8 More Tips for Homework Help — from a Former Math Tutor

1. How to Give Homework Help when Your Kids Have Questions

So you’re sitting there with your child and he gets stuck on a problem. Maybe it’s a reading comprehension question he doesn’t understand or a math problem that isn’t clicking.

Here’s a trick I used all the time when I was a math tutor: turn the question back around. Ask your child, “What do you think the question might be asking?” or “What do you think you should do next on this math problem?” Many times, the student understands the material but is simply having a hard time getting it from his head to the paper.

For many students, the opportunity to talk it out helps them over the hump. Draw out what he already knows by asking leading questions. It will give him the confidence that he can do it, and it may allow you to answer fewer questions in the long run. We professional educators refer to that as a win-win. 😉

2. What To Do When You Can’t Give Homework Help? Be Resourceful!

Sometimes, as mentioned above, your child already knows the answer but just needs some leading questions to draw his knowledge out. Other times he sincerely doesn’t understand and truly needs homework help. At that point, it’s okay to jump in and explain — but only if you can.

To give an example with math homework, the US Department of Education Homework Guidelines so aptly point out that parents shouldn’t teach their child how to do it a different way. This may actually confuse the child even more. We don’t want to contribute to child anxiety, no sir!

If you don’t understand something or wonder how to help your child with a difficult question, teach your child to be resourceful! Using your child’s textbook, class handouts, and/or notes, show her how to figure it out. Giving this type of homework help may feel a little odd at first, but stick with it. Narrate what you’re thinking by saying, “Hmmm… well, let’s see if we can find this type of problem in your textbook.” Or, “So what I would do is go back to the short story and scan to see if I can find the answer to this question. Let’s do it together.”

If you’re still not sure after looking through book/notes/handouts, you might do a quick internet search together to see if you can help explain it to your child that way. There are many high-quality, free resources online to help, especially with math homework. One of my favorites is Khan Academy. Again, narrate what you’re doing as you try to find an answer. You might say, “What do you think we could Google to find what you’re looking for?” In doing this, you’re teaching your child how to solve her own problems in the future. That’s a VERY valuable life skill. 

If all that doesn’t work, reach out to the teacher. Your child’s teacher wants her to succeed but might not be able to tell your child is struggling with a particular topic before a quiz or test. Older kids can ask the teacher directly for help, but younger kids might need a bit of parental intervention to make sure the teacher is flagged on the problem. Your child’s teacher may also have some great suggestions for resources in case a problem arises again in the future! Those teachers, man, they know what they’re doing.

3. Know Your Child’s Learning Style

Your child’s teacher may also have great insight into his learning style. What’s a learning style? It’s basically an individual preference for how a person best understands and retains information.

  • Auditory learners will remember anything they hear. They are great candidates for listening to a chapter book on audio while following along.
  • Kinetic or kinesthetic learners love to touch or experience things in order to make concepts stick. They might like using counters for math problems or doing science experiments.
  • Visual learners are the most common; they can recall things that they have seen. They might enjoy looking at a map or photographs of a place while learning about its culture.

Why is this important? Well, knowing your child’s learning style can help you as you try to make concepts “stick.”

PBS Parents gives a great example with spelling words. If your child is a visual learner, it might help him to see the word spelled out before spelling it himself. He may even close his eyes and visualize it in his mind’s eye. If your child is an auditory learner, he might like to hear you say and spell it and then repeat it back to you. A kinetic learner, on the other hand, might like to write down each word as he spells it or even use Scrabble tiles to “feel” each word as he learns how to spell it.

These different ways of completing the same assignment could make a difference in your child’s education. It’s worth a try to change it up and see if it helps your student.

4. Don’t Commit This Homework Infraction

Whatever you do, resist the temptation to do your child’s assignment for him. He may be running out of time or might not be completing it how you would. His handwriting may not be amazing or his gluing capabilities enough to make the perfect diorama, but it’s his assignment. It’s okay to let your child do it his way and learn lessons if he needs to improve in the future. There’s a difference between helping and taking over. Capisce? Capisce.

Uncle Jesse Capisce OK (Homework Help)
media.feedfloyd.com / via buzzfeed.com

5. An Easy Way to Help

Ooh, here’s an easy one. At least, it should be simple… have your child put her assignments into the correct folder in her backpack immediately after finishing them.

Done with Spanish homework? Muy bien! Into the folder it goes and into the backpack ready for school tomorrow.

None of this “I forgot it at home” business for you. Your kids will be groggy in the morning, and you’ll be busy readying them for departure, so have her make a habit of putting it in the bag right away.

6. Have a Homework Support System

You may not be the best at helping with homework. That’s okay. You’re not in 9th grade anymore, your child is. So it’s not really all your responsibility to help. But I love this homework idea from Scholastic: you can suggest she pick a few reliable friends who she can ask for academic support, like the phone-a-friend lifeline on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

A number of things happen during the school year — ranging from “your child is sick and misses an assignment” to the even more common “your child didn’t write down which chapters they were supposed to read in To Kill a Mockingbird.” Do yourself and your child a favor and have her brainstorm a couple of people she can call for help if needed. And encourage your child’s responsibility so that she uses this resource sparingly and does the same for her friends if they need it.

7. Don’t Be Afraid of Tutoring

I know tutors are seen differently depending on the school. Some kids are embarrassed to go to a tutor, while for others it might be some sort of academic status symbol. Either way, if your child is struggling in a particular area, tutors can be a great help to reinforce what the teachers covers in class and help him get ready for tests and quizzes.

If you’re unsure whether your child would benefit from a tutor, ask her teacher or school counselor! Tutors can be expensive, so your child’s teachers may also have ideas for low-cost solutions. Talk to them and see what they recommend for your child’s unique situation.

8. Relax

I know. I get it. Easier said than done. When you’ve got a million extracurriculars, you’re trying to get a healthy dinner on the table, and your child brings home an assignment from you-know-where? It’s enough to send a parent over the edge. But resist the urge!

The fact that you’ve read this far (thank you!) shows that you’re an amazing parent. And that’s enough to set any child far ahead of the game. Your child will make it, he will succeed. No matter how this tricky homework assignment or impossible class might seem at the time, it will not be the downfall of all your hopes and dreams. Promise. It’s gonna be okay!

So while you’re thinking about school safety and school lunch ideas, don’t forget to start the year with a positive attitude when your child brings homework in his backpack. You will make it. Your kids will be fine. And your smile will go a long way to a happy school year.

Got any homework situations that are giving you fits? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to help you come up with a solution that works for you and your child. I love hearing from you!

READ NEXT: Top 5 Steps to Help Your Child Have a Better School Year — Instantly! 

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About Aubrey Hunt
Before hopping on the crazy ride we call motherhood, I studied engineering and taught math and science to middle and high school students. Now, perhaps like you, I fill my days singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider and praying my preschooler will eat a vegetable — any vegetable!