Chalk Talk: How Much Help Is Too Much?

Chalktalk 315

How Much Help Is Too Much?
In upper elementary school and middle school, parents should help students take responsibility for their own learning and work. Students need guidance and occasional assistance, but the work should be completed by the student, even if it is incorrect or below expectations. It’s important to give students the power and privilege of failure.

Homework help basics:
• Ask your student to share what he or she learns each day and if there is follow-up practice or analysis.
• Provide a consistent, quiet place for your student to work.
• Provide materials that might be needed, such as paper, pencils, glue sticks, etc.
• Encourage your student to try several times to achieve the answer.
• Suggest that she write down questions or highlight problems that cause difficulty so she can ask the teacher the next day.

Project help guidelines:
• Review the rubric with your student and note each requirement. If anything is unclear, have her ask the teacher for further explanation.
• Help your student plan mini deadlines for project elements to eliminate a crunch at the due date.
• Brainstorm with your student to find different ways to approach the project.
• Help your student develop a list of necessary items and purchase them together, or discuss ways to recycle items you have at home.
• Provide time and space for your student to work.
• Check in occasionally on the progress and discuss adjustments to the mini deadlines to stay on track.

Janet Puckett Wade is a fifth-grade teacher at Sharon Elementary in Charlotte and has a law degree and certification in elementary education.