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Getting involved in your teen’s homework routine can help your teen develop discipline and problem-solving skills. Your support can help ensure success in school and beyond. Homework helps students:

  • Review and practice what they’ve covered in class,

  • Explore subjects more fully than classroom time permits, and

  • Extend learning by applying existing skills to new situations.

What the Right Amount of Homework?

The right amount of homework depends on your teen’s age and skills. The US Department of Education suggested that teens study and work on homework for at least an hour each day. If you are concerned that your teen has either too much or too little homework, talk with his or her teacher.

How Can I Help with Homework?

Here are some ways to help your teen with homework.

Make homework a routine.
Help your teen find a regular time to work on assignments, perhaps right after school or dinner. No matter what time you choose, your job should be to help your teen be consistent. Your teen may need some rules, such as a required amount of time that he or she must devote to homework or studies. Setting time requirements can help your teen avoid rushing through homework to watch a TV show or go out with friends.

Find a place without distractions.
Find a comfortable place where your teen can concentrate. Working at the family computer or at the kitchen table are good choices. Make sure the TV is turned off, and discourage phone calls or instant messages during homework time. If others in the house are noisy, encourage family members to take part in a quiet activity that won’t distract. Don’t forget that many communities have public libraries with computers and other resources that can be a great help to teens.

Talk to your teen about homework.
Find out what he or she is working on. Some questions you could ask include:

  • Do you know what you’re supposed to do?
  • Do you need any help figuring things out?
  • Do you need anything to finish the assignment?

Your teen might get frustrated sometimes, and that’s normal. At those moments, suggest taking a break, and let your teen know you will help when he or she is ready.

Praise your teen.
Congratulate and praise your teen for specific accomplishments. Praise that amazing science project, or tell your teen how much you enjoyed reading an essay. Sometimes you may want to celebrate with ice cream or do something special to mark such achievements.

Set a good example.
Show your teen how the things he or she is learning will help later in life. Let your teen see you reading books, writing reports and e-mails, balancing your family budget, doing your taxes, saving for a big purchase, and learning about new technology and science. These and other activities can show young people that what they learn at school really matters. Show that it takes hard work to master these activities, and let your teen know that you struggle with some tasks, too. Be excited about learning and discovery — it’s infectious.

Limit TV, computer, and video game time.
Research shows that students do better in school if they have limits on the time they spend watching TV, playing video games, and surfing the Internet. You may want to discuss this with your teen as you figure out a good homework routine. These activities are a normal part of most teens’ lives, but they should not be allowed to dominate their time at home.

Some Homework Tips

  • Help your teen avoid last-minute cramming for tests and waiting till the last minute to complete projects by making a schedule and a plan.
  • Help your teen get started on research reports or other big assignments. A little support can go a long way.
  • Help your student find resources such as books, Internet sites, and tutors. Don’t do the work for your teen. Instead, be there to guide him or her in the right direction.

Additional Information and Sources

US Department of Education Parental Resources

US Department of Education. Helping Your Child With Homework.

US Department of Education. Homework Tips for Parents.

US Department of Education. Toolkit for Hispanic Families.

Author

Associate Professor & Human Development Specialist
Agricultural and Human Sciences

Publication date: April 1, 2008
FCS-521-02

There is an alternate Spanish language version of this document here: Cómo ayudar a su adolescente con la tarea

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