Teaching Children to do Homework Independently

Education 315

Getting a child to want to independently do homework is much like getting a child to want to set the table or clean his or her room without a parent helping. Like these other tasks, homework cannot be classified as something that is genuinely fun to do most of the time. A child can, however, gain a lot of satisfaction from handling a task by herself — building pride in her efforts.

The sooner homework becomes the child’s responsibility rather than the parent’s, you are on the right track. At the fourth-grade level, a parent should not be hovering over a child doing homework. One of the easiest ways to accomplish this is to use a homework contract. It can spell out the times and places where homework will be done. You also might want to include a reward clause in the contract as your child learns to do most of his homework independently.

As children develop their own sense of responsibility for doing homework, parents can look over the homework assignments at the start of the homework time with a child and help the child decide which work will be done first. During this time, directions for doing the homework should be discussed. Homework is easier for children to do if they have an assignment notebook to write down all assignments and a calendar to write down long-term assignments so that study time can be planned.  

It is also helpful to show children how to use their textbooks or online tutorials to answer questions about homework assignments. For example, in math, children can rework problems that are similar to those in the assignment. Following these  steps gradually teaches children how to handle homework by themselves.

Peggy Gisler and Marge Eberts are experienced teachers who have more than 60 publications to their credit.