Tralee is SF Bay Area educator, learning coach, and counselor helping students gain competence and confidence in school, predominantly in their math class.
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Should you intervene in your child's homework?
You provide a homework structure for you child;setting up a place and time to work, communicating your expectations, and being accessible to “give help on demand.”
But, when should you intervene when in your child's homework? The when and how you should intervene depends on your intentions.
I want to help my child.
If you intervene too much, you send an unconscious message to your child: “You are helpless and need my help,” which research shows undercuts the child’s development of agency and independence.
But, my child works s-l-o-w-l-y.
It is faster to give your child the answer than to allow enough time for processing through to understanding. Are you doing so because it is 11 p.m. and the assignment is due in the morning? “Good enough” parenting permits you to expedite the process and give an answer or to in order to prevent your child's meltdown..
I want to teach my child problem solving strategies.
Now, you are on to something! One of my parents told her daughter, “Math is a puzzle to be solved, and life will give you lots of puzzles and problems to solve.” Word problems are great opportunities to teach problem solving, even though children give them a bad rap.
You may borrow any of my time-tested techniques for solving word problems:
1. First, you and your child read the problem aloud-- twice. This models the importance of reading carefully as if you both are detectives. When I teach, I ask students to ignore all references to numbers until they read it the second time. This reduces the load on their memory.
2. If there is too much information, draw up a table, a chart, or a picture to keep the information organized.
3. If you are unsure about how to solve a problem, that's O.K. Take your time and think out loud. This helps you arrive at a plan, shows children problem solving takes time, and becoming a Super Hero Problem Wizard takes time. .
4. Finally, always check if the answer makes sense. Students are eager to find ANY answer, they don't care if it does not make sense.
When you understand your intentions when helping with homework, you will know if it is for a good reason or not.
Great Math Tutoring
P.S. (This summer, 2015, I am offering my middle school Girls Go Figure! Workshop where motivated participants can experiment with various thinking strategies through games, movies, puzzlers, treasure hunts, reading, and good, old-fashioned problem solving.
The workshop is offered monthly this summer, Monday through Thursday, beginning June 15 through Jun 19, from 9 am to Noon, or from 1 pm to 4 pm depending on the location (Berkeley/Oakland) for $275 (Early Bird Registration of $ 250 closes on May 15, 2015).
Copyright © 2015 Tralee Johnson, MA, MFT "Great Math Tutoring!" All rights reserved.
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