Helping your child with their homework can be tricky to navigate. While it’s hard to see your child struggle through difficult tasks, they won’t learn anything if you do their work for them!
Here’s what learning science research and IXL experts have to say about the best way to help out with homework, as well as a few IXL features that can support you along the way.
Tips for helping your child with their homework
The Harvard Graduate School of Education suggests thinking of yourself as a homework project manager for your kids. This means you should focus on helping your child to develop a good process for doing homework, rather than assisting with the actual assignments themselves. Some practical ways you can do this are by:
- helping your child make a to-do list
- helping them estimate how much time it’ll take to complete each assignment
- encouraging them to stay on-task
- praising them when they finish their work!
If possible, have your child do homework in a communal space, like at the kitchen table. This ensures that you can be nearby for support if needed. If you have other children or your child has friends who live in the neighborhood, it can be beneficial for them all to do homework together. Homework can feel like a lonely task, and turning it into a communal activity can help make it more fun!
Homework help tips from IXL experts
Members of IXL’s team also weighed in on their top strategies for helping children with homework. Maureen Schrader, a former teacher with 18 years of experience in education, said, “You want students to take as much ownership of their learning as possible.” Homework is an opportunity for learners to develop executive functioning skills and demonstrate responsibility. To that end, parents should “set their child up for success by providing a good learning space and organizational tools, like a whiteboard calendar.”
Similarly, former teacher and instructional coach Sheila Berger suggested parents try to make a clean, quiet, and comfortable space at home for their child to work. She also warned against parents acting like a “back seat driver” for their child’s homework, saying, “If they need help finding something, help them without doing it for them, so they can do it alone next time.”
IXL tools for homework help
IXL offers a variety of features to help students learn and practice skills! Here are some tools that you can try out with your child if they need homework assistance. If your child is a bit older, they can use these tools to learn more independently while you step back and supervise.
Learn with an example
Before an activity, it always helps to see a demonstration of what you’re supposed to do. When starting a math or English language arts skill, encourage your child to select “Learn with an Example” to see an example question, a step-by-step walkthrough of how to find the answer, and an explanation of the key concepts within the topic. Going through this example together can help your child see how a skill works and prime them for practicing!
It can be frustrating to get a question wrong, but mistakes are also great opportunities to learn! If a student answers a question incorrectly, IXL provides a step-by-step explanation of how to correctly answer that specific question. This hands-on practice combined with immediate feedback gives learners a strong base to learn from their errors and try again on the next question. Remind your child to read through explanations carefully before they move on to the next problem!
IXL now has on-demand video tutorials for all middle school math skills! Each video features expert math instructors walking through concepts and completing example problems in an engaging, visual way. Located near the top of each skill practice page, these video tutorials give you a readily available resource to help your child with math concepts. If your child doesn’t understand a math skill, they can watch the corresponding video tutorial and receive guidance on the exact skill they’re working on!
Sometimes learners get stuck on a topic because they’re missing some background knowledge. Cue in-skill recommendations, which suggest foundational skills that your child can work on. For example, a skill on adding decimal numbers may recommend a skill on place values as a foundational skill.
If your child is struggling with a concept, encourage them to check out the in-skill recommendations to strengthen their background knowledge before returning to the original skill. In-skill recommendations can be found at the bottom of the page while practicing a math, language arts, science, or social studies skill.
Overall, the best thing you can do is provide support and guidance for your child while they handle their homework. This will help them develop problem-solving skills, content knowledge, and confidence.