5 Essential Rules So Kids Get Their Homework Done On Time and Without Fuss

Homework is a hassle.  Your child does not want to do it and you spend time and effort making sure the homework gets completed on time.  Family life is a mess, you never get time to do what you want to do. Parents complain about homework all the time.  “My child has too much”’ “My child has too little”, “My child never wants to start on time” and so it goes on.

Never let homework create problems between you and your child.   Your relationship with your child is much more important than any homework he or she may have to do!

Following these five basic rules will take the sting out of homework help AND make homework the positive experience it is meant to be.

Rule #1    Whose homework is this?

Teachers set homework for students.  They do not expect, or want, parents to do any of the child’s homework.  I have known some teachers give a mark to a student and another mark to the parent because it has been obvious that the parent has done most of the work!

Yes, I know that you want your child to get a good grade, and I know that you will do whatever you can to make life easier for your child, but doing some or all of their homework for them is not the way to make this happen.

What if someone volunteered to do all your shopping – sounds nice doesn’t it – but when that person is not around and you need to buy something you would not know which shop to go to or where to find what you needed.  You would not have learned how to shop for yourself.

That is what happens when you do your child’s homework for him or her.  You are stopping your child learning and you are preventing your child taking the steps that lead to being an independent learner.

I know you want to help but there are better ways, continue reading to discover what they are.  The first rule you need to remember is that homework is for your child – not you.  Let your child take responsibility for getting homework completed. It is the only way to learn.

Rule #2     Only help when asked to help

Don’t hover.  Let your child get on with doing his or her work without interference from you.  Make sure that your child knows you will be around if he or she needs help but set the expectation that your child will do the work and that you will only help if he or she asks for help.

This might mean that your child’s work is not as good as you want it to be but that is fine. The teacher needs to know what your child can do and what he or she needs help with doing.

And only offer the type of help that your child asks for – remember rule #1 – and do not take over your child’s work no matter how much easier it would be for you to do!


Rule #3    Respect your child’s preferred learning style

Children learn in different ways. Some learn best when they are alone, others when they can interact with people around them.  Some like to be shown what to do while others prefer to have things explained to them.  Some need frequent breaks and the ability to move around, some like to listen to music, some need to be near a window!

When you know how your child likes to learn you can make sure that he or she has the right set up to get homework done.  Your child might need a desk in his room, or might prefer to work on the kitchen table.  Does your child need music while working or does she work best when things are quiet?

If you need to discover your child’s learning preferences go to www.Vnaya.com and follow the links to  links to the free Porter Diagnostic Learning Assessment.  It only takes a few minutes and you will get all the information you need.

One more thing – do not assume that your child learns the same way you do.  I have seen Word Smart parents become frustrated and confused when their Picture Smart child didn’t seem to get what they were explaining.  And I have seen Number Smart parents in despair because their child seemed to have no sense of organization or plan to get their work done!

Decide what works best for your child and then adapt the way you help to meet your child’s needs.

Rule #4    Tell the teacher

This is important.  Tell your child’s teacher if homework is taking too much time or too little time.  Tell your child’s teacher if your child finds homework too difficult or too easy.   Tell your child’s teacher if homework is making your child unhappy or stressed.  And tell your child’s teacher why your child has failed to complete homework. Teachers need this information so they can make adjustments to the amount and type of homework they set.

You don’t have to make this a big deal.  Either call and set up a time to talk to the teacher or send a short note an ask for a response of some kind.  Most teachers are willing to talk things over with you if you approach them with the attitude that you are both in this together and you both want to do the best for the child.  If you don’t get any response from the teacher, ask to speak to the Principal.  It takes time, but your child’s future is worth it!

And make sure that your child knows you are going to do this.  You may be surprised by how many homework issues get solved once your child knows that you will do this!

Rule #5   Don’t nag

It is so easy to fall into this trap and it can be quite difficult to get out of it.  When you nag your child to start homework or to get it finished on time you are taking away their responsibility to get their work done.  You may think that you child is not capable of being responsible for getting their homework finished but there is no way they are going to learn this unless you allow them to become responsible.

Use the ‘Two times – and you’re out!’  strategy.    First, remind your child that homework has to be done.   Just one sentence, no more.  Then leave it up to him or her when to start doing the work.  If nothing happens and it looks like homework is not going to get done you can again remind your child that homework needs doing and this time you can add on consequence of not getting it done.  You might say something like, “Just a reminder about your homework and that if you don’t get it done you won’t get the grades you need”.  No judgement, just facts.

Then say nothing more.  It is your child’s responsibility to get to work now, not your responsibility to remind him or her.  He or she has to take the consequences of their action, or lack of action.  Don’t say another word!    Never ever say “I told you so” or anything like that.  Never comment on what your child is doing or not doing.  Do not nag!

It is hard to do this at first. It might take several tries before your child accepts that the responsibility is his.  There might be push back.  Trust me, persevere and in a few days or a week things will get much better.

Five rules.  Five ways of doing things that will take the sting out of homework AND help your child learn more.  Try them and then let me know how they are working for you – and your child.

Want to know more?


for tips that work.

Patricia Porter

Dr. Patricia Porter is a Learning Skill Assessment Specialist & Speaker. Discover your Child's Learning Needs to Unlock their Full Potential.