Helping your child with his or her 3rd grade math assignment may have been a cinch; it may have even given you a little ego boost. But as your kids progress to higher grades, things will get far more difficult—for child and parent alike.
Not only is it completely embarrassing when you don’t understand your child’s assignments, it can be very frustrating for both of you. As an involved mother, you want to provide your child with all the help they need to succeed in school, and sometimes that means reaching out for assistance.
But where do you go for help with your kids’ homework? If you don’t have the answers, who will?
Older Kids—An obvious (and free) choice is an older sibling, someone who went through the curriculum within the past several years and will recognize the terms being used in today’s schools. If you have a close extended family, perhaps even an older cousin can come over for an hour a week to help.
Dial-A-Teacher—Several states, including New York and New Mexico, have Dial-A-Teacher programs that were specifically designed to help kids with homework questions. While each state’s program varies, these free phone lines are usually staffed by teachers or tutors during the evening hours. Many services have bilingual teachers on the line as well. New York recently launched a Dial-A-Teacher app that extends its phone service to chatting online. Check with your school about similar services in your area.
Homework Help & Tutoring Websites—There are several websites that are dedicated to tutoring and immediate homework help. These include sites like Tutor.com and 24HourAnswers, both of which offer help from tutors or people referred to as “homework specialists.” Costs vary on these sites, but Tutor.com currently offers free services to children of military members.
School-based Tutoring—Often the school itself will provide free tutoring services, from teachers, aides or older students. Your first line of defense when your child needs additional help with homework should be their teacher; they may have some great recommendations. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, some schools are required to provide free tutoring. If your child is receiving reduced-cost or free lunches and attends a school that’s been designated as “in need of improvement,” you could get your child into a local, and fairly prestigious tutoring service, all paid for by the school district. School officials will be able to tell you if you qualify and where to start.
Additional Online Resources—If there is a specific subject your kid needs additional help in, there are countless websites with worksheets and games to help engage them. For worksheets in a variety of subject areas, try Super Teacher Worksheets or WorksheetWorks.com. SpellingCity.com allows you to input your child’s weekly spelling list and generate all kinds of word games and activities.
While there’s a big debate regarding the amount of homework kids should get and some school districts have done away with it entirely, most teachers still count on students to do quite a bit of work at home. And although the purpose of homework should be to reinforce concepts learned in class, many teachers have students learn entire new subjects on their own. If it gets to be too much for your child, find the help he or she needs as soon as possible. Not turning in homework on time will affect their grades, which, in turn, may affect their motivation to attend school.