Homework Tips for Parents of ELLs

Homework is important for students and their academic success, but helping children with homework can be difficult — especially if you are still learning English.

Here are some ways you can make homework easier for everyone — and remember that your involvement is the key to your child's success, no matter what language you are using!

The homework routine

Help your child get organized

Help your child pick out a special homework notebook or folder, and make sure your child has homework supplies, such as:

  • pencils
  • pens
  • writing paper
  • a dictionary

Get into a routine

Set a regular time for homework every day, and look for a homework area with good light. Help your child get into the habit of getting homework done before doing other activities.

Limit distractions

Turn off the TV and video games, and restrict phone calls and texting during homework time. If your child is using the computer for homework, check in periodically to make sure he is getting homework done.

Talking about homework

Show your child that you think homework is important

Ask your child about her homework each day, and check to see that it is completed. Even if you don't understand the assignment or don't speak English, you can still check to see that it is finished. Tell your child that you are proud of the work she is doing.

Don't be afraid to use your native language

Talk with your child about what she is learning, and ask her to explain new concepts to make sure she understands them.

Study the same things in different ways and places

Help your child learn about new words or content in a variety of ways. Talk about new vocabulary words several times over the course of the week, in different settings. This will help enrich your child's understanding of the word.

Let your child choose the first subject to study

Often, this is the one that your child likes the best. The next subject should be the hardest, and then your child can finish in any order.

Space out the learning

If your child has a big test coming up next week, help her study a little bit each day rather than cramming it in the night before. An hour or so every other day, spacing out the learning, is a better way to really learn the material.

Help your child without doing the homework

It's important to answer questions if you can — but remember that homework is supposed to help children learn and that doing your child's homework does not help in the long run.

Extra help

Use the library for books and computers

The school and public libraries are great places for homework help, books, reference resources, and computer/Internet access.

Learn about your school's after-school programs

If your child needs extra help or you work late, your child may be able to find extra help in an after-school program. Ask your child's teachers if any programs are available at your school.

Talk with your child's teacher

Find out what the teacher's homework rules are. If your child has a problem completing or understanding homework, call or e-mail the teacher to talk about the issue. Request or bring an interpreter if necessary to communicate with your child's teacher.

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