With a new school year fully in swing, parents once again ask themselves the perennial question: should you help your kids with homework?
At one end of the debate, parents worry that helping kids with homework dissuades them from learning on their own. After all, if you’re ready to swoop in with the answers, how will they ever learn the processes behind those answers? On the other end, some parents feel that the goal of schooling is to advance toward a career, and any leg up a parent can provide is beneficial.
Who’s right? And what are some concrete ways parents can aid their kids in online schooling?
How Not to Help Your Kids with Homework
Despite claims that doing your kids’ homework for them increases their likelihood of future success, it does not, in fact, help them.
Academic success is about more than just “winning” a top grade. It’s about acquiring necessary life skills, critical thinking skills, and useful education. If you do your kids’ homework for them, you deny them the opportunity to learn and retain the course material themselves.
In part, academic motivation is about self-satisfaction. A student is more intrinsically motivated to learn when they feel a sense of personal achievement tied to the work. As hard as it may be at times, it’s best to take a back seat.
Even though you aren’t providing the answers, however, you can still help. Here are a few simple ways to empower and support your kid in their online learning.
Let Your Kid Take the Wheel
One of the wonderful things about online education from schools like Ontario eSecondary School is that the courses are self-paced. The learning format encourages independence, self-sufficiency, and needs-based learning.
If your kid struggles with their homework, they can take as long as they need to complete it. If they breeze through their homework, they can move on to different course material. Let them dictate how much or little time they need to grasp the course material and complete the homework fully.
Create a To-Do List
If you want to give your kid a nudge in the right direction without fully taking over, help them create a to-do list. List all the tasks they need to do for a given week/month/course semester and check up on them to ensure they are ticking off tasks. This way, rather than driving the car for them, you give them the road map to drive themselves.
Be Around, but Don’t Hover
While experts caution parents against giving their kid homework answers, they do suggest being a helpful presence. Studying and doing homework can be lonely and isolating; knowing that you are nearby can make kids feel less alone.
And if they have questions about the course material, of course, answer them! To the best of your ability, walk them through the concept in a way that explains rather than tells. If you get stuck, the best online schools offer access to 24/7 support, where you can ask questions and receive clarification.
To summarize, the best way you can help your kids with their online schooling is by guiding rather than giving. Be supportive, trusting, and willing to step in when something doesn’t make sense.