Questions to Ask About Homework

Ask your child questions.

Talking can help him think through an assignment and break it down into small, workable parts. Here are some sample questions:

  • Do you understand what you're supposed to do? After your child has read the instructions, ask her to tell you in her own words what the assignment is about. (If your child can't read yet, the teacher may have sent home instructions that you can read to her.) Some schools have homework hotlines you can call for assignments in case your child misplaced a paper or was absent that day. If your child doesn't understand the instructions, read them with her and talk about the assignment. Are there words she doesn't understand? How can she find out what they mean? If neither you nor your child understands an assignment, call a classmate or contact the teacher.
  • Do you need help in understanding how to do your work? See if your child needs to learn more, for example, about subtracting fractions before she can do her assignment. If you understand the subject, you may want to work through some examples with your child; but let her do the assignment herself.
  • Have you ever done any problems like the ones you're supposed to do right now? See if your child has already done similar problems that can guide him in completing these particular problems.
  • Do you have everything you need to do the assignment? Sometimes your child needs special supplies. Check with the teacher, school guidance counselor, or principal for possible sources of assistance if you can't provide needed supplies. Also check with the public library or school library for books and other information resources.
  • Does your answer make sense to you? Sometimes the response to a math problem doesn't seem logical, or the meaning of a paragraph your child has written is unclear. If that's the case, your child may need to check over the math problem or revise the paragraph.

If your child is still confused, ask:

  • How far have you gotten on the assignment? Let's try to see where you're having a problem.
  • Do you need to review your notes (or reread a chapter) before you do the assignment?
  • Are you still having problems? Maybe it would help to take a break or have a snack.

U.S. Department of Education
Office of Educational Research and Improvement Adapted