13 alternatives to paying for homework help
Being overwhelmed with homework seems to be a badge of parental honor. If homework is heaping, you may look to costly resources for help. In "How Homework Is Hurting Our Family," Jeff Opdyke (a personal finance writer for The Wall Street Journal) writes of his family's struggles. He and his wife have hired a college student to help organize their 5th grade son's workload, a solution superior to anti-anxiety medication as mentioned by friends. But, there are smart, frugal alternatives: here are 13 ways to avoid paying for homework help, suitable for elementary school students.
1. Realize that parental involvement means providing encouragement and support, not being a homework slave. You can avoid helping with homework and still be a good parent.
2. Find out the homework guidelines (how many hours per day) for your child’s grade level and class. If homework time exceeds standards, let the teacher or an administrator resolve overload.
3. For specific problems, ask your child to talk to his/her teacher. Teachers respond more favorably to a child who advocates for himself/herself than an intervening parent.
4. Don’t correct your child’s homework as a sensible teacher will assume that the child has mastered the subject matter and move on to more challenging material. Your child may struggle with new material as foundational concepts have not been learned.
5. Resist the temptation to do parts (or all) of a project, even if your friends are helping their children and your child’s presentation will look, well, childish. Accept that the project grade may be low compared to peers.
6. Become a project manager. Here's my concession to homework assistance but I believe that most 10-year-olds do not have the capacity to manage long-term, complex projects. If the assignment doesn’t come with a timeline and milestones (for example, a book report may have dates for getting the book approved and preparing a rough draft), then break down the project into tasks and create a plan for your child.
7. Make sure there aren’t any underlying problems that may be impacting your child’s academic performance. Have your child’s eyesight and hearing checked. Make sure your child gets enough rest and an adequate breakfast.
8. Learn yourself. Find out about learning strategies based on kids' unique cognitive profiles (for example, a child with great verbal but poor visual/spatial skills may have to spend more time studying geometry, or ask the teacher to explain concepts in a new way).
9. Get free tutoring help, which may be offered at your child’s school or through other community resources.
10. Review your child’s extracurricular activities. Consider whether your child has adequate time to relax after coming home from school, engage in creative activities, participate in structured activities, and finish homework.
11. De-stress at home. Even if you’re stressed about schoolwork, don’t show it. Your stress adds to your child’s anxiety.
12. Make sure your child is on track. Ask to be informed of interim test results (most likely quarterly) so that you can verify that your child is learning whether or not he/she is getting stellar grades.
13. Champion change. Channel your homework-helping energy into advocacy for less homework or penalties (yes, lower grades) for obvious, unnecessary parental meddling.
Getting too involved in your child's homework leads to unneeded intervention and frustration. Try these homework-helping alternatives to let your child develop lifelong learning strategies and save cash.