Question: Lately I have been spending more and more time helping my fourth grader with her homework. How much is enough?
Answer: There are many factors to consider when deciding how much time and effort should be given to support your child’s completing her homework. First of all, as a matter of principle, homework is supposed to be the responsibility of your daughter. When properly assigned, a child should be able to complete most of their homework with only occasional assistance from a parent. Ideally, a parent’s role should be limited to helping a child schedule time for doing homework and in making sure there is a suitable home environment for the child to focus on their assignments. As far as the time spent on routine homework most schools have guidelines that they share with parents. Generally speaking, on a daily basis, a
Generally speaking, on a daily basis, a fourth-grade student should be spending no more than 45 minutes to an hour on homework. Other than a special project, if homework drags on beyond this timeframe or there are numerous requests for help, something is amiss. The first step is to check with the teacher to inquire how much time she expects her students to be doing their homework. Let her know the issue at your home and see what she says. If your child is devoting more time than the class norm, it is possible that this is evidence of a potential learning problem that needs to be evaluated.
Another possibility is that your child is using difficulty with homework as an attempt to increase contact time with a parent. Children can literally condition their parents to pay attention to them by seeking help or procrastinating with homework. The reinforcement for the child is the parent sitting with them one to one. If you feel this is the case, make sure to replace the attention your child is getting from you for struggling with homework with quality interactions after homework is complete. A little tough love might be necessary to break the pattern. Tell your child that if they cannot complete the assignment within a reasonable period of time you will write a note to the teacher asking for extra help instead of spending excessive time helping them. Furthermore, I would even suggest that a child in the upper elementary grades does not need close monitoring of homework unless there is a problem. As long as there is no negative feedback from school, leave the homework an arrangement between teacher and pupil. Teachers are quick to dispense consequences for not turning in assignments. This will maximize individual responsibility and reinforce her independence.
Questions can be sent to Dr. H. the parent coach at Dr.H@rhsolutionsinc.com
Dr. Richard Horowitz, Parenting/Family Coach