Homework Time: The Difference Between Helping and Taking-Over

Care.com's advice on helping children without becoming overly involved with homework time.

Homework is not only important for a child’s education but also for developing a sense of responsibility, time management and it does wonders for improving concentration. Yet, these qualities are often only obtained through a child self-regulating their homework time. Of course, they will have difficulties with homework and find it challenging to work through them alone, which is when a lot of parents jump in to help. But the occasional helping hand can turn into constant supervision and guidance, and as a result the benefits of homework can often be lost amongst all the parental input.
So you can get the balance right, here is our advice on how to help children without becoming overly involved.

Kindergarten/Grade Primary, First and Second Grade
At this age, homework time should be kept to around 10 to 20 minutes a day. Although it doesn’t sound like a lot, it will be plenty of time to establish a homework routine. Parents should be involved with their child’s homework – but decide on a set number of times they can come to you for support (around two or three times should work well). That way, you will be encouraging healthy homework habits whilst still providing guidance.

Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Grade
Children in these grades should be looking to do 30-60 minutes of homework per night.
Parents should be less hands-on at this stage, but still ensure your child has a consistent, proper space to do their homework — ideally their own room.
Communication with teachers should be a point of emphasis. Try speaking with your child’s teacher through annotations and questions on their homework sheets – and include thank you notes too!

Junior High/Middle School and High School
As children entering Junior High or Middle School are becoming teenagers, it’s important that they dictate their own time spent on homework. Having more flexibility encourages responsibility, whilst also allowing students to put more time in to subjects or projects that need a bit more work.
At this level, parental input should be minimised and students should pursue their work privately. Instead, parents’ should shift to helping with activities that expand the students’ questioning, understanding and curiosity regarding a topic.
You should, however, be mindful of the amount of time a child spends on homework. Help them avoid spending all night finishing a piece of work by providing a time-limit in which they should get the assignment done.

Home-Schooled Children
How do you deal with homework if your child is attending cyber school or being home schooled?
In the home environment lessons and homework are often conducted without children even knowing. Learning is taking place through everyday activities including cooking, budgeting and shopping, allowing children to grow and develop without the interference of the parent.
When your child walks through the door with a backpack heavy with homework, remember that when children know they will have to take responsibility for their own homework, they will pay better attention in class.

How much you pitch in is ultimately a personal decision, but homework is a fact of life. The biggest key to success is building healthy homework habits early on to carry your child through school successfully. If your child could benefit from additional help with their homework, why not consider a local tutor?



  1. Homework Time: The Difference Between Helping and Taking-Over
    Gina Croteau | Thursday,November 05.2015

    Would’ve been of great help if I had still had children at home.

Comment on this article