Middle School Helpful Homework Hints

Middle School Helpful Homework Hints

Information and guidance for parents

Many of the most frequently asked questions by middle school parents have to do with "How can I help my child with studying and homework?"  Some of the best guidance that we can pass along to you comes from the September 2002 issue of Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School, a resource for math teachers.  Although what follows comes from a math teaching trade magazine, the helpful hints are universal to all content areas...

1.      Identify a good homework place.  At home, make sure lighting is good and space is adequate.  If this is difficult at home, the public library has appropriate study areas.

2.      Talk to your child about how to get started.  Help prioritize the work for the evening.  Checking on progress once in a while helps with time management.  Encourage independent decisions about when and in what order assignments should be completed.  Suggest a break when it is necessary.  Help refocus when distractions occur.  Bedtime is important - set a time limit!

3.      Once in a while, the entire family may be involved in a homework task.  This is your chance to show enthusiasm for learning and to work together with your child.  Other times, the homework is for the student alone, but you should be available to respond if assistance is needed.

4.      Parents don't have to know all the answers or processes, but it is good for students to develop a voice in their heads that asks guiding questions about solving problems.  "Telling" a student how to solve a problem is less helpful in the long run than "Teaching" or "Coaching" them to think through problems.  You can coach them by asking the following questions:

a.       Do you understand what the question is asking?

b.      How do you think you might start this problem?

c.       Have you seen any problem like this before?

d.      Do you have a similar problem in your notes from class that we might look at?

e.       Can you show me a simpler problem like this one that might give us a clue as to how to begin?

f.       As you write on your paper, talk me through what you are thinking.

g.      Does your answer sound reasonable?  Does it answer the original question?  How do you know?

5.      Explore some web sites that are designed to help parents and students with homework, such as the following:

        a.       www.mathforum.org/students

        b.      www.gomath.com/exchange/T12.html

        c.       www.aleks.com

        d.      www.figurethis.org

6.      Your relationship with your child should always be kept safe from interference that homework may present.  Talk with your child's teachers when difficulties arise.  Asking for information has two advantages:  First, it can clear up any misunderstandings about homework and your role as a parent.  Second, it lets the teacher know you are supportive and involved.

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