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Are you a homework helper?

Parent encouragement and participation can build skills.

It’s a new school year, with new challenges, harder tests and more homework. How can you help your child  successfully study this school year? Here are four Delaware Valley tutors’ suggestions.

All grade levels

Build comprehension. “One of the best ways to help kids with reading comprehension is to read a book along with them. Read ahead, so you can ask questions about what they are reading. Have them take notes,” advises Rich Bernstein, owner of Huntington Learning Centers in Cherry Hill and Turnersville, NJ. Form questions around “who, what, when, where and why,” he suggests. Or “ask them what they think will happen next.”

Read to your children. Parents should read books that are two to three years above kids’ reading level. “As they do that, they should be talking with their children about what they are understanding from the book,” explains Judie Caroleo, director of instruction at Reading ASSIST Institute in Wilmington, DE.

Be positive. Indira Lawson, director of Mathnasium of Andorra in Philadelphia, says, “You wouldn’t say you can’t read in front of your children, so don’t say you are bad at math in front of them.”

Adopt good habits. At each grade level, study skills build on previous years. Establish a consistent schedule. A calendar on the refrigerator can help your child to fit in homework, activities and free time, says Bernstein.

Encourage kids to try new challenges. If your child has trouble with a math problem, tell her to work as far as she can go, putting what she can down on paper, suggests Lawson. It will help the teacher to pinpoint where she got stuck.

Know what is expected. At back-to-school nights, gain insight about homework and test schedules, especially in middle and high school, says Bernstein.

Elementary school

Sit with your kids. Rashmi Mundalmani, director of Kumon Wilmington Limestone, in Wilmington, DE, recommends that during homework time, parents sit at the same table with kids in grades 1-3 and be in the same room with them in grades 4 and 5.

Show kids how math is used in daily life. Have kids count things such as shoes, toys, steps. Have them make change  or help you pay for their toys, says Lawson.

Look for new ways to engage your kids in conversation. The more spoken concepts and vocabulary children are exposed to, the better readers they tend to become, notes Caroleo.

Middle school

Continue showing kids how math is used in daily life. Have them help you figure out the tip at a restaurant or calculate gas mileage, Lawson suggests.

Create your own book club. Buy books your child is assigned to read, then read along and discuss them with him.

Focus on time management skills. Good time habits can get kids ahead in high school and college. Use an assignment calendar, Bernstein suggests.

High school

Stress the importance of a cumulative grade point average. Colleges look at three years of grades, so what happens in 9th grade matters, says Bernstein.

Your child needs to take good notes and have good examples for math problems, says Lawson.


Tips on note taking        |        More study tips


Discuss homework answers. Ask how your child got homework answers or came to her conclusion.  As she explains her work, it will deepen her understanding of it, Lawson notes.

Help teens prioritize time. Make getting enough sleep a priority.

Carol Anne Pagliotti is a freelance writer and former calendar editor of MetroKids.

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