Homework: A Parents’ Guide

Helping Kids With Homework

By: Anjali Joshi

Homework always seems to be a strong point of contention for many parents. There is always a diverse range of opinions when it comes to the amount of homework – some parents feel like children should have very limited homework so they can spend time with family and doing other extracurricular activities. However, often times among South Asian families, parents feel like their children don’t receive enough homework. Many schools have adopted a homework policy of “10 minutes per grade” such that a second grade child would have 20 minutes of homework and a sixth grader would have 60 minutes. This general rule doesn’t always fit the diverse needs of children as time spent completing homework varies widely amongst children and many parents and teachers agree that home reading should not be included in this time.

Types of Homework

  1. Practice: This kind of homework is meant to reinforce learning that occurred in the classroom, practice, and help mastery of skills. This type of homework is critical in developing foundational concepts, such as reading and number sense.
  2. Preparation: This kind of homework initiates the learning process outside of the classroom, getting the child thinking about concepts before they are presented or discovered in class. This type of homework sparks the inquiry process in a child’s brain thereby making them absorb the knowledge built in the classroom more readily.
  3. Extension: This kind of homework requires students to apply skills to novel situations thereby extending their learning. Extension activities are particularly important to further solidify understanding of challenging concepts.
  4. Integration: This kind of homework requires students to integrate concepts and skills learned in multiple subject areas.

Have You Done Your Homework? typed on a paper note pinned to a cork notice board. Not just for school as doing your homework prepares you for business meetings, interviews and presentations.

How Parents Can Help: a TEAM Approach

  • Tools: Make sure the right tools are available (paper, pencils, calculator, dictionary, etc.)
  • Environment: Provide a quiet place where homework is completed, free of distractions (such as a television)
  • Attitude: Be mindful of your own attitude toward homework. Children are very perceptive. If you are frequently frustrated and annoyed with their homework, they will be too.
  • Model: When your children sit down to read, take this as an opportunity to sit down and read too. When they are doing their math homework, get a head start on your taxes or banking! This shows children that homework extends to adult life and has many practical applications.

How to Address Math Homework Challenges

Often times, parents are challenged by math homework and assignments simply because of significant changes in the content of curriculum as well as the manner in which certain concepts are taught. The best way to ensure that your children are supported is to engage in frequent communication with the teacher.

Siblings are doing his homework for elementary school.


  1. Try to be aware of the methods by which your child being taught mathematical concepts, and don’t teach your child strategies and shortcuts that conflict with the approach the teacher is using as this can impede the learning process rather than aid it.
  2. Math is often taught with concrete manipulatives in the classroom. Ask the teacher if your child can sign out these manipulatives to use at home to complete homework.
  3. Lastly, online resources are in abundance that can be used to help your child practice and solidify math concepts and skills.

As parents, we are partners in education. Our involvement and support with the homework routine can help our children build positive attitudes and achieve success inside and outside the classroom.

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