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Educators offer tips for parents looking to help with homework

Resources for parents looking to help kids with homework.

PORTAGE, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Now that school is back in session, your child will likely bring schoolwork home. So how much should you as a parent participate in that homework and what are the best resources available to help? Newschannel 3 talked with educators about best practices as well as apps and websites.

Lisa Lam is a middle school math and history teacher at St. Michael Lutheran School in Portage. Her students can expect at least some homework every week.

“We give them assignments in class and then what they don't finish they complete as homework,” Lam said. So I would say for most middle schoolers I would tell parents 60-90 minutes a night.”

But all those digits and numbers could have students scratching their heads during homework time, and turning to parents for help.

“Parents should be aware of the process, and they should be helping students to stay on task, and they should be providing resources. But they should not be doing the work by any means,” said Lam.

Educators say resources available to students and parents these days are endless. There are apps and websites to go to along with traditional textbooks. Some teachers, like Lam, also create study guides and online tutorials. Teachers in general are also more accessible than ever though email.

Lam says, “We spend a lot of time emailing parents and setting expectations at the beginning of the year. We have a Google calendar where we post assignments that parents can access so that parents are very aware of what expectations are for the students,”

Lam also suggests creating a specific homework area void of any cell phones or tablets. And if frustration gets the best of parent and student, know when to take a break.

Luchara Wallace is a mother as well as an education professor at Western Michigan University. She says it’s OK if students struggle a bit with homework, but when other resources or help is necessary, there are some great places to turn. When evaluating homework apps or websites Wallace suggests parents use the acronym “PREP”. Look for apps with:

  • Purpose
  • Reviews
  • Engagement
  • Posted age range

When it comes to apps and websites elementary age students, and parents, can use Wallace suggests:

Apps and websites perfect for secondary school students are:

Wallace also suggests asking what’s available within your child’s school district. “Schools may already have invested in recommended websites or apps that the students might have access to.”

But when technology fails to answer questions, parents best option is to contact teachers directly via email or in person. Make sure you are clear about homework struggles and find solutions together.

“There are so many free resources that are available to our students, to our families that all we have to do is take advantage of them,” Wallace said.

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