Homework is a constant complaint, not just from kids but from parents. Kristine Sorensen gets the scoop from an elementary school principal about how much parents should help kids with their homework and what it’s really supposed to teach them. Here’s her edited conversation with Molly O’Malley Argueta, principal of Allegheny Traditional Academy K-5 in Pittsburgh Public Schools.
Kristine Sorensen: First of all, should parents help elementary school kids with their homework?
Molly O’Malley Argueta: Some parents would consider homework the bane of their existence. I think it’s tricky. On the one hand, we say there should be some help at home, but it should be a gradual release. For kids in 2nd through 5th grades, I’m going to say they should be doing the homework by themselves. It should be independent.
Kristine: What if your kid never remembers to do their homework or they’re always doing it at the last minute, like my son?
Molly: My kid too!
Homework is about responsibility and time management. As a parent, we don’t like to see our children fail or make mistakes, but at some point, they have to learn responsibility. I would create a routine.
Create a place where they know that this is the time you do your homework and consider incentivizing it. We might have a chart on the refrigerator so that when your child remembers, he gets a little star or a sticker or whatever works for the parent and the child.
If they keep forgetting, then I think it can be time for “tough love,” and they have to deal with the consequences that come from that.