How Much Should I Help My Child With Their Homework?


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It's fairly normal for homework to be a task dreaded by most kids. But when you become a parent, you might find that you dread homework just as much as your children do! Simply getting kids to sit down and work can be a struggle, and fitting homework into a family’s busy schedule can also be challenging. Not only that, but it can be really hard to watch a child wrestle with the material.

As such, most parents want to intervene in some way. Yet many end up feeling confused about their role when it comes to homework. How much should you push a child who is having trouble applying themselves to the task? How much help should you offer? And what if your child doesn’t seem to need your help with homework at all?

Here, we’ll connect with experts regarding the best approach to helping your child with their homework, broken down by age.

How Much Homework Help Should My Pre-K Child or Kindergartener Need?

Above all else, the work of a pre-K or kindergarten-aged kid should be to engage in play, says Bibi Pirayesh, Ed.D., founder and educational therapist at “It's also important to do activities that support motor functions, sound-letter correspondence, and informal math,” she says. “But what parents should really encourage is children’s natural sense of wonder and wanting to initiate challenge and learning, not perfection.”

Still, sometimes children this age are assigned homework, though most of the time the workload is light, and children are given leeway in terms of what they are expected to accomplish. When it comes to learning outside of school at these ages, Katelyn Rigg, M.Ed., a literacy and reading specialist, says that your job as a parent is to be a “coach” for your child, working to reinforce the concepts they're already studying at school.

“For example, if the students are learning the letter B, parents can take the opportunity to talk about the letter, go on a scavenger hunt for things around the house that start with the 'B' sound, and practice letter formation using kinesthetic experiences like playdough,” Rigg suggests.

Above all else, don’t push your young child when it comes to homework. “The most important goal of this stage should be to associate school and learning with positive emotions,” Dr. Pirayesh says. The aim is to encourage children to branch out, try things on their own, and support their efforts.

How Much Homework Help Should My School-Aged Child Need?

Homework becomes more of a “thing” as your child gets a little older, though it tends to be light in early elementary school, increasing in amount as the years pass. Typically by third grade, kids receive up to three assignments per week, and homework can take up to 20 minutes. Fourth and fifth graders may get daily homework, lasting about 30 minutes or sometimes more.

In elementary school, homework focuses on concepts children are studying in class, and its purpose is to practice and reinforce what’s already been learned, says Brianna Leonhard, certified teacher, board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), and founder of Third Row Adventures. As such, children should be able to do the vast majority of their homework on their own, without much help.

Still, many children want or need a bit of help with their homework in elementary school, and that’s perfectly normal, says Rigg. She suggests trying an “I do / We do / You do” model for doing homework together with your child.

“A parent may do the first question, then they complete the second question with their child, and finally, the child completes the final question on their own,” Rigg describes. This idea can be adapted to whatever homework or academic skills your child is working on. “It allows parents to be involved and supportive of their child's education, but also leads children to develop independence.”

How Much Homework Help Should My Tween or Teen Need?

Homework will become more of an independent task for your child as they age. However, they may need some hand-holding as they make the transition from elementary school to middle school, where they are suddenly getting homework from multiple teachers instead of just one.

During the tween and early teen years, kids are still developing their executive functioning skills—tools that help them plan and execute tasks, says Dr. Pirayesh. You can support them by implementing "scaffolding," which involves helping them break up tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks, and setting up clear daily goals.

Homework during high school should still be mostly about practicing skills already taught and is not meant to teach new material, says Leonhard. So if a parent is having to spend time teaching their tween or teen the material covered on the homework, they should reach out to the child’s teacher in the event they're having trouble grasping what's being studied in class.

That said, homework in high school can be challenging, and your child might be struggling because of the increasing difficulty in topics. If your child can mostly complete the task at hand, but needs a little additional help from you from time to time, that’s typically not a problem, she adds.

Students with learning disabilities such as ADHD may need more parental assistance with homework, says Riggs. That’s also typical and okay. “Teachers may not be able to find the time to provide this added support for students, so parents may have to provide it at home,” she explains. “Parents can also support teenagers who may need assistance with studying and organizational skills, while helping find strategies that work for their children to prepare them for adulthood.”

What If My Child Never Asks for Help?

Some kids never seem to need help with homework, and that can be just as confusing for parents as kids who need endless help. If your child is getting by without help, there’s no need to intervene.

“As long as a parent knows that the child is completing the required homework, meeting the grade-level expectations, and understanding the content, then this is perfectly fine,” Riggs says. “Parents should make sure they are asking their independent children about what they're learning, what their homework is, and offering help if they need it.”

What to Do If You Have Concerns About Your Child’s Homework

When your child is struggling with homework or seems to need a greater than average amount of assistance, you might be wondering what you should do. First of all, you shouldn’t assume that incredibly challenging homework is something that is typical, says Dr. Pirayesh.

“I think many parents assume that homework being a nightmare is normal,” she explains. "But it can be a sign that something deeper is going on.” Your child could potentially have a learning disability, she says, or they just may need more effective daily routines around completing assignments.

Whatever the case, don’t blame your child for the difficulty—your best bet is to connect with your child’s teacher sooner than later, Dr. Pirayesh offers. Talk to the school about what is going on during homework time, and discuss what options might be available to make it more manageable for your child.

Riggs agrees that building an effective partnership with your child’s teacher is imperative. “As a teacher, I am so grateful when a parent asks about their child's learning and wants to be an active participant in helping their child be successful,” she says.

Of course, if you have concerns about your child's learning, it's also a good idea to speak with their pediatrician or healthcare provider.

A Word From Verywell

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to how involved a parent should be during homework time. The goal is for your child to become more independent as they get older. For the most part, it makes sense to go with your instincts in terms of how much to assist or when to pull back. At the same time, homework should not be a nightly struggle, and if that's the case for your family, you shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to your child’s teacher for help.

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Education Association. The Power of Play in Kindergarten.

  2. Learning Disabilities Association of America. How Much Time Should Be Spent on Homework?

  3. Harvard University Center on the Developing Child. Executive Function & Self-Regulation.

  4. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. What are some signs of learning disabilities?

By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a lactation consultant and writer covering maternal/child health, parenting, general health and wellness, and mental health. She has worked with breastfeeding parents for over a decade, and is a mom to two boys.