Homework assignments have many benefits for your child. They not only reinforce lessons taught in school but also teach important lessons about study skills, about working independently, about accepting responsibility, and about managing time wisely. They also help your child understand that learning takes place everywhere—not just in the classroom.

Parent involvement in homework assignments can be important, too. Beyond giving you better insight into what your child is working on and where he or she might need some extra help, your involvement provides an opportunity to show your child just how much you value education and support the efforts of his or her teacher.

Parent involvement and guidance can be especially important when children are doing research reports. Children need to know how to put the information they find in their own words, how to identify quoted material, and how to credit the sources they use. Here are a few things you can do:
  1. Talk to your child about what it means to plagiarize—to use another person's work without giving proper credit.
  2. Encourage your child to use his or her own words to make notes rather than copying verbatim from a printed source or a website.
  3. Explain that it's okay to use direct quotes, but that they always must be set off with indents or quotation marks and that your child must always give the source for any quotation, no matter how short, by citing the author and the name of the publication or website.
  4. Make sure your child also understands that it's necessary to cite the source any time he or she uses a borrowed idea or any other information that is not common knowledge, and any time he or she uses a picture or other image.
  5. Ask your child's teacher or your local librarian to suggest resources on taking notes and citing sources

Here are a few general tips to help you help your child with homework.

  1. Make sure your child has a quiet, well-lit place to work. Make sure it is away from the television set and other distractions.
  2. Make sure your child has the supplies he or she needs—paper, pencils, a dictionary, and a computer.
  3. Establish a set time for your child to do homework each day. Plan together when extra time will be needed for big assignments such as research reports.
  4. Show that you value homework by doing your own homework. For example, if your child is reading a book for language arts class, you can read a book, too.
  5. Help by providing guidance and encouragement, not answers. Your child won't learn unless he or she actually does the work.
  6. Talk with your child's teacher to ensure that you understand the goals of homework assignments and any special requirements your child will need to meet.
  7. Help your child set priorities. Help your child determine which assignments are more challenging than others and do them first—when he or she is freshest and most alert.
  8. Watch for signs of fatigue or frustration. Let your child take a short break if needed.
  9. Celebrate success. Reward your child for working hard with an occasional special treat—a pizza or a trip to the park, for example.