Guest blogger Ronda Kaysen: We all want our kids to succeed at school, and helping them with their homework is one way to achieve that. But finding that perfect balance between helping them out and letting them learn on their own is no easy feat. However, it is possible -- and ultimately crucial to learning.
"It's important to remember that homework is the child's work," says Ann Dolin, author of "Homework Made Simple" and founder of Educational Connections, a tutoring and test-prep company. "If your child is answering the majority of questions correctly, leave it as is and let her turn it in the way it is."
Step 1: Know When to Help
Kids in kindergarten and first grade are too young to work independently, so you'll have to help them with any homework assignments they have. But by second grade, most kids should be working on their own for at least part of the time. "It's such a turning point," says Dolin. "At that point, they really can do it alone."
Step 2: Know When to Walk Away
Sit with your child while she completes the first item in the assignment, so you know that she understands it and can complete it accurately and independently. Then, despite your inclinations to stay and help, walk away. This is her work, not yours. If she has trouble working independently or is anxious about going it alone, set the timer for five to 15 minutes so she knows you'll be back to lend a hand. Sometimes, just getting focused is the hardest part -- and giving your child a limited time frame helps her get over that hurdle.
Step 3: Skim
When your child is finished with his assignment, skim it to make sure that it has been completed and that your child followed the directions. Don't check every question to make sure your child answered them correctly -- that's the teacher's job! Your job is just to make sure that the work is done. If eighty percent of the work is correct, allow your child to turn it in as is. After all, homework is meant to be a way for the teacher to assess a student's progress; if nothing is ever wrong, the teacher won't know where your child needs help.