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FAMILY : Tackle Homework as a Team Effort

January 19, 1994|ASSOCIATED PRESS

How much help should you give your kids with their homework?

"Parents must strike a balance between encouraging and becoming so involved" that children think they can't manage on their own, says Dr. Robert Brooks, director of psychology at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass. "Children are more likely to be successful in school if their parents help them early on to be independent thinkers."

Here are some tips from Parent's Digest magazine:

* Encourage kids to take pride in their work. Give them a boost when they're stuck but don't fill in all the blanks. When children ask how to spell a word or what's the capital of Ohio, help them look it up. If they don't understand the meaning of a poem, read it aloud together and discuss it, but don't say what you think the meaning is.

* Let them know it's OK to make a mistake. "Many kids are so afraid of making mistakes they get easily frustrated when they can't figure something out," Brooks says. "That's when I hold up a pencil and, corny as it sounds, ask: 'Why do you think they put erasers on pencils?' "

* Many children need parents to help them set up a regular place and time to do homework, as well as constant reminders to do it. "Tell them that you value homework," Brooks says. "Homework is part of their responsibility in school."

* If child often fail to finish homework, arrange a conference with the teacher to make sure the child's attitude isn't masking a learning problem or some other anxiety.

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