How to Find Homework Help
If your child is struggling in school or with homework, here are solutions to try.
The homework hour can be a time of stress in your household for parents and kids alike. Whether your child is loaded down with homework, or they're just not "getting" it, there are things you can do to alleviate the pressure.
As a parent, you can try to help, but you might experience some pushback, warns Neil McNerney, author of "Homework: A Parent's Guide to Helping Out without Freaking Out." "Some kids have a hard time accepting school help from parents."
Alyson Schafer, author "Honey, I Wrecked The Kids," completely agrees, saying, "It's often far more effective to have other people help your children with their homework, as it's less likely to turn into a family fight and cause hard feelings."
A child's issues with homework can vary, so start off by trying to determine what makes homework a daunting task for your kids, and then go from there.
"Ask your child what specifically is making the homework a struggle," Schafer suggests, before you even start looking for outside sources for homework help. "You may be surprised to find out what the real issue is. Some children may not understand a concept and need it explained in a different way, while another child may simply be overwhelmed with the volume of work and need some help breaking it down into bite size pieces. Some children struggle to get started; others can't make a decision on what topic to do a report on. Help them identify what trips them up specifically and create a solution together."
When your child needs extra homework help, here are some solutions to try:
Start at School
Once you've talked to your kids and started to determine what may be their issue with homework, talk to the teacher. After all, they know best what issues your child is facing in the classroom. Sue Atkins, author of "Raising Happy Children for Dummies" advises that you "Ask your child's teacher for specific details about what they are struggling with to make sure you get the correct support they need."
Teachers can also be a source of after-school help. McNerney says, "Many teachers are willing to help after school and/or provide in-school tutoring. If that doesn't work, ask for some ideas from the teacher and/or school counselor. They usually have a list of tutors that have been recommended by others."
As a former class teacher, Atkins appreciates this idea: "I loved it when a child asked me to explain something. I was there to help. It showed me that the child was keen to learn or interested in what I was talking about. Teach your child to ask, as it also teaches them to take responsibility for their own learning long-term."
Join a Homework Club
Your child's school may also host after-school homework clubs. Schafer says that "Homework clubs or peer study groups are usually free and can help students work communally on homework, allowing them to be work collaboratively while socializing."
But while homework clubs should be a time for support, they shouldn't be a time to "introduce new and unfamiliar concepts," warns Atkins. New material, she says, should fall under the realm of a tutor.
Hire a Tutor
Atkins believes a professional tutor can also be a great investment, as one can be hired in the short-term to help your kids develop the skills they need. Ask neighbors or teachers for recommendations or hire a tutor through a site like Care.com.
Decide whether you need a tutoring center or a private tutor.
Find a Homework Helper
If your child only needs some basic homework help, you may be able to hire a babysitter or after-school sitter who can also assist with academics. Babysitters often wear many different hats, and "older students often like helping younger students," Schafer suggests. Plus, they're cheaper than higher both an after-school sitter and a tutor.
Figure out: Do You Need a Homework Helper?
Tutoring doesn't have to be face-to-face. Some tutors will help with homework over Skype, says Schafer. Alternatively, there are also websites you can visit that have video tutorials or offer online tutoring programs.
McNerney says that "A very good one online is the Khan Academy. They have videos to help learn a number of subjects, especially math."
Learn more about: Can You Trust a Computer to Tutor Your Child?
Ask Family for Help
One kind of tutor that Schafer suggests are grandparents, especially for younger children. Not only will kids work with their grandparents on homework, but "Grandma and Grandpa are always looking for ways to be involved in their grandchildren's lives," Schafer says. Maybe an older sibling or cousin can also help out explaining information.
Talk to the Teacher Again
So you've tried all of the above, and it doesn't seem to be helping? Another issue may be involved. "If the problems persist, discuss the concerns with their teacher as there may be an underlying problem, such a learning disability," Schafer says. But this is the absolute last step.
In general, homework help from outside sources can make a world of difference -- not only for your kids, but for your peace of mind, too.
Elizabeth SanFilippo is a freelance writer in Chicago, Ill. In addition to writing about child care, she loves to write about her English bulldog, Kafka. Her work can be found here.
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