Helping Your Teen with Homework
Homework in higher grades
In general, just when grades are becoming more important, school and homework may not be your teen’s top priority. Teens spend more and more time with friends and may become involved in extracurricular activities. Try to find a balance between respecting their desire to establish their independence and continuing to show an interest in and support their education, even though they may not always want or need it.
Ways to work with your teen
- Prioritize and make a schedule. Teens have a lot of things going on in their lives and often a lot of stress, so sit down with your teen and talk about scheduling social events, after school activities, free time and homework. Though teens are capable of choosing when to do their homework, you can ensure they have enough time in their busy schedules to get it done! This will help your teen learn how to manage his time, show him that homework and school need to be a priority, and keep you involved in your teen’s life.
- Find a good place to set up shop. Unlike your elementary school child who liked to do her homework at the kitchen table so you were nearby, your teen may rather retreat to their privacy of her own room. Wherever your teen ends up, make sure it is comfortable for her, well lit and free of distractions such as television and the telephone. Be sure to check in with your teen so you know she is staying on task.
- Provide support and encouragement. You may not need to be as involved in your teen’s homework as you were when he was in elementary school; however, you should be there to support your teen in the process. Make yourself available for questions and help by going over the instructions with your teen before he begins, let him share his ideas with your and offer feedback, or offer to review his work when he is finished.
- Homework and the Internet. Your teen will most likely have homework assignments that require research of some kind on the Internet, or she may be able to use a website for homework help if she is struggling with something. The Internet can be a wonderful resource; however, there is plenty of inappropriate material on the Internet as well so please see our information on this website regarding Internet Safety.
- Study groups. Study groups are often a good strategy for middle or high school students. Your teen may benefit from studying with one or two classmates; however, make sure the group is using the time to study. If you have questions about study groups or how to help your teen form a study group, speak with the school and they may have some recommendations.
- Talk to the teacher. If your teen seems to be having trouble with a particular subject or type of assignment, make an appointment to speak with his teacher about it. If your teen is struggling with a particular subject, it may indicate a learning difference. His teacher and the school may be able to make arrangements for extra help in the form of a tutor—the earlier your child gets the help he needs, the better.
- Keep the lines of communication open. You should be regularly talking with your teen about her homework and school. Anytime you have questions or concerns you should speak with your teen’s teachers and other school staff if necessary, such as guidance counselors, principals, etc. By doing this you will stay involved in your teen’s life and her education, model good communication, and continue to make a connection between home and school.
This information was compiled by Sunindia Bhalla, and reviewed by the Program Staff of the Massachusetts Children’s Trust Fund.