Professors say helping with homework may do more harm than good - Dallas News |

Professors say helping with homework may do more harm than good

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Helping with homework is part of many families' nightly routines, but two college professors warn Mom and Dad might be doing more harm than good.

UT Austin professor Keith Robinson and a sociology professor at Duke University analyzed 60 different parent behaviors and interviewed their students. Despite race, class and level of education, they found, "In most cases, most of these involvement behaviors had no measurable benefit for children's academic outcomes in the form of test scores and grades," said Robinson.

He says some help can even hurt a student's learning because many parents may have forgotten or never truly understood the material their children learn in school.

"When they're getting help from their parent or their parent is trying to help, often times I think a child sees that as a parent trying to get on to them, or ‘You're not good enough; you're not doing it right,'" said Amy Caron Halstead, the owner of Mathnasium, a tutoring center in Lake Highlands.

"[My dad] sometimes does it for me, even though I don't want him to because I want to do the work and learn it myself," said Angela Principe, an eighth grade student at Lake Highlands Junior High.

But Principe says she does appreciate her dad's help.

Professor Robinson challenges parents to be advocates for their kids and open the dialogue:

"Ask the child, 'Is what I'm doing helping you?'" said Robinson. "'How can I improve?'"

"While they might struggle with that particular homework, that child knows their parent cares," said Caron.

The researchers also found observing a kid's class, helping a teenager choose high school courses, frequently meeting with teachers and punishing kids for getting bad grades generally doesn't seem to improve grades.

However, what is helpful is reading aloud to elementary school kids.

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