Tips to being a homework helper – Part 2

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Mother and daughter doing workAs parents, we generally consider homework as activities or studying that our children bring home, sometimes as early as starting in grade one, and going all the way up to the high school years. Unfortunately, our approach to supporting our children rarely changes despite the fact that children’s needs change and the goal of homework may be different at different grades. As kids transition from class to class, and grade to grade, so should the role that a parent plays to help their child complete homework or study assignments. What works for a child in grade 5 should not be used on a teen in grade 11.

Elementary School

In Elementary school, the parental role decreases while the potential time it takes a child to complete their homework increases. There is no set time-frame for homework completion times in the elementary grades, as every child is an individual with different needs and personalities. However, you should contact your child’s teacher if your child is substantially exceeding these proposed times.

  • Grades 1 and 2: 30-35 minutes. Parent’s role: Direct help, read instructions with the child.
  • Grades 3 and 4: 40-45 minutes. Parent’s role: Supervision.
  • Grades 5 and 6: 45-60 minutes. Parent’s role: Minimal supervision.

Here are some tips to help your child stay focused and motivated to tackle their homework:

1.    Homework tips for a fidgety child

  • Establish a physical boundary around your child and incorporate regular breaks.
  • Encourage your child to complete certain tasks while standing or walking, including spelling words or learning the multiplication table.
  • Try to vary your child’s type of study to incorporate visual, auditory, or motor elements.

2.    Homework tips for an unmotivated child

  • Set up a daily or weekly reward system.
  • Break up the study time into manageable chunks, allowing for short breaks after 10 minutes of straight studying or 20 minutes of assignment work.
  • Use a white board or chalkboard to help make the homework and studying more fun.

High School

Effectively managing homework is part of your teen’s learning process. The type of supervision you provide should depend on your teen’s degree of independence. Parents are usually more available in the first few years of high school and then gradually step back to encourage independence. Here is an estimated time a teen in high school should be spending on homework:

  • Secondary 1 and 2: 1-1.5 hours.
  • Secondary 3, 4 and 5: 1.5-2 hours.
  • Weekend: Approximately 2 hours.

If your teen is struggling with this timeframe, or staying focused, you may want to consider some of these tips:

  •  Ask your teen to summarize what they learned in class or create a study plan for upcoming exams.
  • Encourage your teen to review difficult concepts from previous tests, or even get a head start on assigned reading.
  • For fun, suggest your teen try an online spelling bee!

Tips for an unfocused teen

  • Provide earplugs to help to create a bubble of peace and quiet. If your teen is an auditory learner, allow background music.
  • Enable them to take breaks that will energize them before having to sit down and refocus.

Despite being older, your teen may still need help in setting up their homework or study schedule in high school. Your support may also ensure a smoother transition from the lower levels to the upper grades with a more demanding curriculum. And if the problems persist at any grade level…seek assistance from the teacher or principal. Homework needs to get done, but it shouldn’t cause overblown and stressful arguments at home. Reach out for help to support your child or teen with god study and work habits.


By Isabelle Boutin, B.Ed., Special Educator, team leader (Quebec) as part of the EFAP, and MAP project manager.

Holder of a Diploma of higher specialized studies (D.E.S.S.) in Special Education/Learning Difficulties and a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education, Isabelle has developed an expertise in working with children, teenagers, and young adults. She oversees the clinical direction of MAP (the Multidisciplinary assistance program) and actively assists in analyzing the needs of corporate clients by offering professional development opportunities to teachers and administrators. Isabelle is also responsible for the quality of the services provided under the EFAP (Employee and Family Assistance Program) and by the special educators—a responsibility she fulfills by managing the recruitment, initial training, ongoing clinical development, professional supervision, and clinical activities of the special educators at Children’s Support Solutions. Her love of children, sense of organization, ability to listen, and natural curiosity are what drive her to excel at the work she does and to offer top-quality services tailored to client needs.


Online Resources:Kahn Academy 

Children’s Support Solutions offers a methodology workshop that may help your child develop better strategies to make homework less of a chore. If your child continues to struggle, it may be best to schedule an appointment with a special educator or counsellor.


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