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The Homework Dilemma

Updated on April 13, 2015


The homework dilemma is something that parents around the globe have to contend with on a regular basis during the school year. The dilemma is, how much responsibility do parents need to take in respect to their children’s homework and how much responsibility needs to be entrusted to the children? This dilemma is going to be solved with different ratios of parent participation depending on the age, learning abilities and family dynamics of the people involved. However, the general recommendation is to provide children with the skills to be responsible adults by encouraging them to take charge of their homework assignments.

Big Projects and Parents

Science fair projects have just been assigned to your child’s class. Each student has been given three months to come up with a project, to collect data and to produce a report and a visual display for their project. The teacher has sent out all the information that is needed to complete the project, including rules and a timeline. The question now is, how much of this project is your responsibility?

In reality big projects are assigned to students and not to student-parent teams. In order for the student to get the most from their project they need to take charge of the project from the start. This enables them to learn not only science concepts, but also time management, problem solving and critical thinking skills. If you, the parent, take control of the project you rob your child of these learning opportunities.

On the other hand, you can still help your child by doing the following:

1.      Provide them with the raw materials for the project;

2.      Provide them with moral support and encouragement;

3.      Help them transport their project to and from home and school;

4.      Provide them with gentle reminders of deadlines that are coming up; and

5.      Listen to their presentation and provide them with constructive ideas on how to fine tune their final presentation.

Regular Homework Help

While big projects may produce the most dramatic urges to help your child with their homework, it is the regular homework assignments you need to be careful not to micromanage. Here the advice is to lend your assistance based on the needs of your child. Some children, such as those with special needs or learning disabilities, may need extra assistance in organizing and managing regular homework assignments. However, most students need to be left in charge of the management and completion of their homework.

If your child is having problems managing their homework then your assistance will be required. In this case you will want to help teach your child to be more responsible about their personal responsibilities. Time management skills, in particular, can be helpful for students that have a hard time balancing homework and other after school activities. Visual schedules can be helpful for mapping out when certain things need to be done. For example, you can schedule the time frame after school so that blocks of time can be dedicated to completing homework and other blocks of time can be set aside for more enjoyable activities. The key here is to teach your child how to manage their time and to take responsibility for their homework so that you do not have to be their secretary.

Setting Homework Goals

Homework is going to be an issue that your children will have to deal with for a large portion of their life. This is why it is important to address the homework dilemma early on. Think of your relationship with your child as an advisory position. You are there to help them develop skills that will enable them to be independent and responsible individuals. To help them achieve these characteristics you need to work as a team to set goals, to problem solve and to set a course that is appropriate for your child and your family.


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    • ScienceFairLady profile image

      ScienceFairLady 7 years ago

      I found that telling my kids, who are now adults now, that homework was their responsibility and we were there is they needed help, made a hug difference in their commitment.

      What was so much fun to hear a couple of weeks ago was hearing my grandson tell me that, "My homework is my responsibility. My parents help me when I ask, but I have to remember to do it."

      Who knew that the positive thing I did would affect the next generation!

    • onegoodwoman profile image

      onegoodwoman 7 years ago from A small southern town

      Fantastic hub! It should encourage many, many parents.

      glad it is behind me.