A study published by the “La Caixa” Social Observatory revealed that the way in which, as fathers and mothers, we get involved in the academic education of our children has an impact on their school performance and on their cognitive and socio-affective development.
According to the results of the study, students with families that seek control above all else have worse school results. And on the other hand, fathers and mothers who relate to their children in an open and communicative way , and who encourage their autonomy and responsibility in the study, positively influence their school performance.
This leads us to consider to what extent we should help our children, for example when doing homework. Is it beneficial to do it? When and when not? What kind of help is better? We reflect on all these questions.
Should we help our children to do their homework?
The answer to this question is not limited to “yes” or “no”, since each case is different. In addition, this help can be punctual, more extensive, in certain aspects or areas of learning, etc.
When deciding whether to help our children with their homework, there are some aspects that we must take into account. Above all, we must bear in mind that each child is different .
It can help us to trace a joint path with him, taking into account what our son needs, what we can offer him and what we consider best as fathers and mothers.
Every child: a world
Thus, we cannot give a general answer as to whether we should always help our children to do their homework, since each child is different and follows their own pace.
We must assess in each case, what their needs, aptitudes , characteristics, personality are… And based on this, decide if we offer this support in homework, and if we offer it, also decide the degree.
Thus, we must take into account that there are children who are more autonomous and capable of solving their doubts as they do their homework; others, on the other hand, need a little more support for specific issues, and others will need more extensive help.
Helping children to do homework: different types of help
We are going to talk, in broad strokes, about the different types of help that we can offer our children when doing their homework, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each type of help.
In this case, we give our son total freedom and autonomy to do his homework.
This absence of help has advantages and disadvantages; On the one hand, it allows you to be more autonomous and work in your own organization, and on the other hand, it can make you make more mistakes if you do not have external support.
We talk about occasional help when we refer to being alone part of the time with our child helping him do his homework, for example:
- Being alone for the first fifteen minutes of study/homework.
- Help him plan or memorize.
- Help you resolve specific issues .
- Provide him with clues so that he can solve the questions on his own.
This type of help encourages their autonomy, although not as much as in the previous case. Another advantage is that we can monitor how it is planned and how it progresses in its tasks.
Finally, extensive help implies either spending more time with our son doing homework with him (for example, a whole hour), or solving a larger number of questions, providing answers more directly, etc.
This type of help may be necessary in children with learning disabilities , attention difficulties (for example, with ADHD), organizational difficulties, neurodevelopmental disorders, etc.
Here the drawback is that in part we stop promoting their autonomy ; however, we insist, we can adapt to each specific case and give our son room for maneuver so that, even with extensive help, he is able to work autonomously in the subjects that cost him less, for example.
Benefits of helping them do their homework
When deciding whether to help our children with their homework, it can also help us to know the benefits and drawbacks of doing so.
As for its benefits we find:
- We share some time with our son, which can be quality.
- We encourage them to feel accompanied.
- It helps us to know what is most difficult for our son and what strengths he has in the academic area.
Disadvantages of helping them do their homework
On the other hand, regarding the drawbacks of helping our children do their homework, or aspects that may not be so beneficial, we find:
- Certain types of aid can take away their autonomy .
- In the long term, and depending on the help provided, they can “get used” to that help and decrease their effort .
In relation to this question, Rubén Fernández, Researcher at the University of Oviedo, assures that:
“Doing homework is the only activity that does not involve direct teacher control; if we help them too much, we curtail their autonomy and the development of their personality”.
The best help and involvement in homework
The truth is that family involvement in the educational process is positive for students, although it is also true that not all forms of involvement are necessarily beneficial.
For this reason, it is important to choose the best way to get involved with them, and the best degree of help that we can offer according to the profile of our child, the time available, the type and amount of homework, the difficulty, etc.
In relation to this, a group of experts from the University of Oviedo, based on research carried out by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, suggest that there are more effective styles than others , and even that some can be harmful.
Two styles of family involvement and their effects
Thus, the researchers differentiate between two styles of family involvement when it comes to helping our children academically, for example by doing their homework:
- A more direct and controlling style.
- A more dialogic style, which promotes children’s self-management.
Monitor, correct and help
Parents who focus their interventions on “helping” children to do their homework, supervising their work, correcting it and often even doing the homework themselves, often achieve the opposite of what they intend.
Why? Because their children don’t wake up on their own and then they are unable to keep up with the classes.
Open communication, motivation and study techniques
On the other hand, results in school improve when our interventions in helping them do homework are based on open communication with them, which implies:
- Talk to them about the classes.
- Motivate them to study.
- Work on study techniques and habits.
- Ask them about their relationships with peers.