Articles for parents

How long should you spend helping children with school homework?

May 2018
One of the aims of homework is to encourage children to take responsibility for their own learning outside of the classroom.

UK parents on average spend 3.6 hours per week helping their child with their school homework, according to the Varkey Foundation’s latest Global Parent’s Survey.

Whilst responses from the 1,000 UK parents varied from ‘no help’ given to ‘seven or more hours’ per week given, nearly half said they spend between one and four hours per week helping their child academically, and another two-thirds (63%) said they were happy with the amount of time they spend helping with school homework.

The results further showed a correlation between the age of the child and the amount of time the parent spends helping them; the key finding being that parents spend longer assisting younger children than they do older children.

Of course, parents often help children with their homework and young children in particular often rely on this extra support to help them focus and fully understand what is being asked of them, yet it is important to remember that one of the aims of homework is to encourage children to take responsibility for their own learning outside of the classroom, and in turn improve their independent study skills.

Considering this latest report, we’ve detailed some productive ways you can assist your child with their homework to help you strike the balance between ‘too much support’ and ‘not enough support.’

Have a presence
Be within reach should you child need to come to you for help but let them get on with their work on their own. A younger child may require that you sit with them initially, but as they get used to the routine of homework you can move away. Perhaps you can have them complete their work at the kitchen table whilst you are preparing dinner, that way you are still nearby for support but not directly looking over their shoulder, and you’ll be on hand to offer praise and encouragement if they are working well.

Resist automatically offering help if they get stuck
If your child gets stuck, try to resist automatically giving them the answer and try to follow these steps:

  1. Ask them to re-read the instructions and the example
  2. Have your child talk you through a previous question they have answered correctly
  3. Ask them to think about how they can apply the same approach to the current question
Gradually reduce the support you give

As your child becomes more familiar with completing their homework you should begin reducing the amount of time you spend helping them. They’ll come to see that they can work very independently on their own, for they’re able to rely on their previous learning to spot and correct their own mistakes. And knowing they have completed their work accurately without your help will be a great confidence boost!

A fundamental aim of the Kumon Method of Learning is to enable all students to become independent learners by fostering in them the mindset and skills for self-learning. We do this through our maths and English worksheets where every single question builds on the learning of the one before.

As our students progress through their Kumon journey, parents and Instructors increasingly step back and allow the students to take charge. Our goal is to ultimately entrust students with full responsibility for their own learning. And certainly, establishing these skills and approach to learning early on will leave your child in good stead when they move into further education and employment.  
If your child is struggling with their maths and/or English schoolwork or you’d like them to develop greater self-learning skills, why not book a Free Assessment with your local Instructor and start their Kumon journey today!