For years, homework has been a part of daily life for families all across Canada. In some cases, worksheets or textbooks are brought home for kids to work from; other times, homework is posted on a classroom site with links to activities. In either case, parents and guardians must often confront what they have avoided for years: grammar, paragraph writing, fractions, science experiments, and book reports. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel frustrated when helping their kids with their homework - let’s be honest, some of us haven’t calculated circumference in decades!
To add complications, many households require both parents to work full time to make ends meet, resulting in a whole lot of stress when the demands of their children’s education pile up alongside tiredness and the myriad tasks of cooking and cleaning that happen after a long work day. The shift to online learning throughout the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada has only compounded this stress, with families dealing with spotty internet in their homes and everyone in the house streaming live video calls. All school work has become homework, and parents are unsurprisingly struggling to keep up.
So what is a parent to do? We want our children to be successful in school, but we also need our own time to build our own careers, rest, and make sure everyone is fed and happy. Homework help is more important than ever, and yet we can say the same thing about so many other parts of our daily lives: self-care, physical activity, nutrition, family time...the list goes on and on.
This article will explore the concept of homework and how we can best support our kids with their school needs. We will outline the best strategies and tips that will help your kids thrive in learning. If you count yourself as one of the millions of parents struggling to help your kids in school, you have come to the right blog!
Find out the top reasons tutors are the best for providing homework help.
The Debate over Homework
There is a huge debate over homework - educators, parents, and students alike have their own opinions on whether or not it should be assigned. On one hand, there are those that say homework needs to disappear from our childrens’ lives: kids need time to spend with their families, play outdoors, participate in extracurriculars, and practice self-care. Homework is an unnecessary source of stress, for both parents and students - why continue?
However, there are those who believe that homework is important and necessary: it helps students develop discipline, creates much needed structure and routine, sharpens their kids intellect, and prepares them for a global workplace. The quality of tasks being brought home matters as well: packets of worksheets that do not get followed up the next day are to be avoided in favour of engaging, meaningful tasks such as larger research projects, reading, or computational practice on a math app.
Whatever your stance is, you can be sure that homework isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, much of the homework assigned is actually unfinished “in-class” work - there is simply not enough time in the day for many students to finish their work, not to mention the distractions of being around your friends and the challenges that come when the lesson is confusing or the pace of learning is to fast. So let’s focus first on some tips for helping your child with math and language homework.
Tips For Helping Your Child with Math Homework
Math homework inevitably comes every week for most students, namely because it takes practice to memorize basic math facts and to master complicated algorithms. For many parents, math homework is the biggest challenge in the household, thanks to so many changes occurring to math pedagogy in recent years. Here are our top math homework tips.
Understand Your Child’s Math Program
If you don’t know what your child’s math program actually entails, you might find yourself struggling to determine what the real issues are. Most math programs tackle the following topics every year, and “spiral” the learning so they are practicing skills at regular intervals throughout the school year:
-Patterning and Algebra
-Geometry and Spatial Sense
-Data Management and Probability
When you understand how math learning is organized, you can start to identify which areas are high-priority, and which skills to focus on first. For example, you might notice that your child struggles to apply formulae for measuring shapes and objects. It may be that they need to practice their computation skills, so that they don’t struggle to multiply or add larger decimal numbers. If this is the case, the parent might want to backtrack and focus on practicing operations.
All areas of the math curriculum are linked - once you figure out exactly where your child’s weakness lies, it becomes much easier to help. Simply helping your child on assignments as they come may not actually be as productive as you think - if they are missing the foundational skills to achieve their learning, then you may need to backtrack in the curriculum and fill those gaps. While this may seem a herculean task, be patient and you will surely find a solution that works.
Use Math Workbooks and Apps
Harnessing the use of technology and workbooks can make your home support more productive and meaningful. There are literally loads of websites out there that will break down math into easy-to-understand language and contain links to videos that model mathematical problem-solving. Khan Academy is one site filled with videos that explain mathematical thinking in a variety of languages and grade levels: find a good one, and pause and play to get the most out of the experience.
Math games and apps are another rich resource for practice and learning. Check out apps like Sumdog, IXL, and Prodigy for math diagnostics and games to make math fun. You can buy a parent subscription, or your school may purchase one for every student. A great thing about apps is that you can track your child’s progress and monitor what exercises they have completed. In some cases, they can compete with kids all around the world!
For the parent looking to get their child off the internet, math practice workbooks are one of the easiest resources to use. They include brief instructions and practice exercises that complement their classroom learning. You can set goals for your child to complete a certain amount of pages, and bring those workbooks to the cafe or cottage - they are great for active families. Check out books like Jump Math and BrainSmart for high quality books.
Make time for Math
Making math a daily part of your lives can make a big difference when it comes to improving academic performance. Set a side 30 minutes to an hour a day for math practice, be it homework or simply time on a math app. So much of math mastery comes from simple practice, and as long as your child is practicing skills that are just challenging enough you will likely see improvement.
While math apps or workbooks might be your ideal resource, change it up every so often by giving your child a math problem to solve around the house or a rich word problem. Don’t hesitate to reward your child for achieving a goal - make their favourite dinner or baked treat. The more you get involved, the more they will be excited to learn!
Use All School Supports
You are not alone when it comes to helping your child with math - many schools offer subsidized math classes or clubs to help your kids. Sometimes teachers will generously offer their own time at lunch or after school to help - if this is happening in your child’s school, take it as an opportunity for your child to get extra review and practice. Even local libraries sometimes offer free or low cost math help - do a bit of research and make your child’s math learning a community effort!
Want to know how you can help your child with homework? Read our article!
Helping Your Child with Writing Tasks
Math is not the only homework concern parents have - sometimes it comes down to writing. Writing is important because students write in every subject: Science, History, Geography, Health, and even Math require students to express their answers in sentences and paragraphs. When students are good writers, their marks inevitably improve - so much comes down to having strong written communication skills. Here are some of our top tips for helping your kids with writing homework.
Start With Reading
Want your child to be a better writer? Get them reading. When students read, they become better writers because they build vocabulary and get new ideas for varying sentences or using punctuation. They see what it means to write in the first person or third person, how to tell a story creatively, and how to organize their work.
Provide your child with a variety of fiction and non-fiction books to read so they can see a variety of styles. Head to the library or order books for curbside pickup - reading is free, so there are no reasons to not get your child into a healthy reading regimen! Focus on your child’s interests and passions - they are most likely to be engaged when they read something they are already excited about.
Make Time for Writing
Writing takes time, and often a quiet place to focus, particularly for older students. Keep up with your child’s homework assignments, particularly those that involve report or essay writing. Schedule time for your child to complete their writing, and make sure there are minimal distractions. If your child doesn;t have a writing assignment, get them a grammar practice book and ask them to complete a certain amount of exercises on a consistent basis. Writing, much like math, takes time and practice.
Help Your Child with the Writing Process
For older students in the intermediate grades, the writing process becomes essential as learning expectations change. Student work must be revised and polished, and you can help your child with this by reminding them to produce drafts. When your child has a major writing assignment, make sure you or their teacher gets a chance to edit or provide feedback. Reinforce the importance of starting assignments early, and use tools like Google Docs to check if your child has been making changes and revising their work.
Do you have a child struggling with writing assignments? Learn some strategies to help your child with their writing here.
How to Help Your Child Finish their Homework Every Week
Now that we know how to support our kids in their math and writing, how do we keep our help consistent and organized? What will a successful homework plan look like on a day to day basis? Thanks to technology, establishing routines around school work has never been easier.
We want to point out first that technology is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand tech has enabled us to track and view our kids’ homework better than ever, on the other it is a distraction few people can look away from. Let’s take a look at how we can use technology strategically to help our kids with homework
Use Virtual Learning Environments to Track Your Child’s Assignments
Perhaps one of the best benefits of technology in schools is that parents and guardians can be aware of exactly what is happening in the classrooms. We no longer have to search through agendas and binders for the day’s work: we can simply check a Google Classroom or virtual learning environment to see what assessments are up next. For kids who are having troubles keeping up, being in the virtual classroom can be a lifesaver for parents. You may even be able to see rubrics and success criteria, which will help you to ensure your child’s work looks as it should.
If your child is resisting your involvement, then monitor them at key points in the year when students have tests and bigger assignments, usually at the middle and end of the terms. You can always ask their teachers for a copy of the syllabus or course outline in a quick email.
Technology has become a kind of curse for students in that it is constantly distracting us and vying for our attention. Procrastination becomes easy when you fall into a rabbit hole of content or a ‘quick’ game that suddenly takes hours to get through. Social media is also your enemy when it comes to getting your child to focus, with so many platforms containing videos and photos from their friends. The solution? Take their device away.
Let’s be clear: getting a game, device or console away from your kids is an epic endeavour. There will be arguments and hard conversations, and loopholes where your child will use their school technology to connect back on social media. You will have to get creative, and find apps that limit social media use or block sites. No matter how tense things get, remember that it is your role as a parent to make tough decisions for your kids.
Find out our top tips for helping kids with their math homework in this article.
Why A Tutor is Best for Helping your Child in School
Of course, if all of this sounds daunting you can and should outsource the help you need - tutoring is becoming increasingly popular for this reason. Sometimes your kid’s relationship as mom or dad can complicate the homework situation - your kids may simply not see you as a teacher, but a parent. As an adult you deserve to have time to yourself and to focus on your own needs - fighting with your kids over homework is not exactly anyone’s favourite way to spend time. The very best solution can be to find a tutor for your child.
A tutor can take a lot of stress off your plate and while bringing your child to academic excellence. They will spend time with your kids on a regular basis, have learning resources that work, and are often skilled in the academic learning your child is struggling with. They can do the work of monitoring your child’s work, and do the supplemental work of explaining new math concepts in simpler terms. A tutor can even enrich your child’s learning by tweaking assignments to make them more challenging.
Tutors are available for every subject and grade level: elementary math and science tutors, high school math tutors, university tutors, writing tutors, and test-taking tutors are just a few of the types that can provide your child with one-on-one support. Online tutoring services are becoming increasingly popular for busy families, since they can meet with your kids virtually and share digital academic resources.
You can find a great tutor by looking at sites like Superprof, with lists of tutors in all subjects. Determine what your child’s needs are, and a tutor can tailor support to fit your specific concerns or develop an individualised program. Superprof has listings for amazing tutors near you that can meet your child at convenient times virtually or in person. Check out Superprof today!