You're facing an uncontested divorce and now you find yourself as the main person who needs to help your child with homework. It has probably been a while since you were inside a classroom, let alone remembering the rules of algebra. We have put some helpful tips to assist you as you help your child with his or her homework.
The first thing you want to do is set up a plan. Don't wait till you are in a crisis to start setting up rules and goals. Start now. Have a talk with your child and let him know what the expectations are. Get input from your child, this will help him or her buy into the plan.
Check in with your child's teacher to see how your student is doing. Have a list of questions ready. Some areas to include in your conversation are:
- How your child is doing;
- What are your child's strengths and weakness;
- What are the academic goals for the year;
- How can you support your child at home;
- Does the teacher have any study tips which can help; and
- What's the best way to get a hold of the teacher?
Many schools have online access to your child's progress. Make sure you get the website and any passwords you need. Then mark on your calendar how often you are going to check to see how your child is progressing.
Your plan should include a few different areas which are made clear to your child. Set aside specific times for your child to study. Make sure your child has a quiet area to study and the family is supportive of the study time. This would include not doing homework in front of the TV; and if necessary, shut off the television during this time. Also, make sure homework time doesn't run over into bedtime. You may have to start earlier if this is the case.
Talk with your child. Often it's easy to get caught in our own personal lives. Ask your child how school was on a daily basis. Now that you are divorced, you may need to do the job of two parents when it comes to homework. Don't let them get away with "blowing you off" by just saying "fine" – probe a little deeper. Let your child know that you are there to help with their academic success.
Praising you child helps validate your plan. Some ideas for praising include:
- Hanging art work in the house;
- Giving him or her stickers;
- Making their favorite meal;
- Treating them to a special outing (i.e., lunch, movies, skating)
- Verbally letting know how proud you are of them.
- Giving him or her a hug. It means a lot when kids receive their parent's approval.
If your child is stuck on a topic, don't feel like you have to be the one to teach it to your child. The first step would be to talk to the teacher and let him or her know that your child needs clarification or additional help. You don't want to confuse your child by teaching him or her one way and the teacher is teaching another method of doing the work in class.
For additional resources you may want to take a look at the following:
- The book Homework Made Simple: Tips, Tools and Solutions to Stress-Free Homework by Ann K. Dolin;
- Helping Your Child With Homework, a free pdf document available on the U.S. Department of Education website. It's also available in Spanish;
- Look at online sites for additional help. Some sites which may be helpful are: about.com, YouTube (type in subject), dadsworksheets.com, tutor.com and growingstars.com,