What Your Child Should Get Out of Homework

Should I help my seven-year-old do his homework by showing him how to research on the Internet?

--Learncomp
Question:

Before directly addressing your concerns, I want to explore what homework should be about. Homework in the early elementary years should reinforce skills and concepts learned at school. Sometimes, assignments might require children to practice something or solve problems. Other assignments might require children to collect information by interviewing a family member or observing objects at home. Homework should also teach responsibility and good work habits. This means helping children learn a system for bringing the assignment home, doing it and remembering to bring it back to school.

As a parent, you should expect certain things from your child's teacher, such as:

1. A consistent schedule for homework: When will assignments be given? When will they be due?

2. Clear directions and expectations: Is the assignment to write a draft, or must words be spelled correctly?

3. A method for transporting homework: a special folder, perhaps, or notebook

4. A variety of homework assignments

Whether or not you should help depends in part on what the point and expectations of the assignment are. Have you talked with your child's teacher? I think you have identified an important question that the teacher should address. What does your child think? Would he like some help? You might do some exploring with him on the Internet about something he is interested in that may not have any connection to school. That way you are helping him learn from discovery while developing some useful skills too.

-- Toni Bickart, Teaching Strategies

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