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Half of all parents struggle to help with homework, study shows

By Paul Nelson | Posted - Sep 27th, 2013 @ 10:07am

SALT LAKE CITY — Recent surveys show that half of all parents in the country are struggling to help their children with their homework, and about as many say they don't understand the homework themselves.

The survey was conducted by the National Center for Family Literacy. It teamed with Google to ask parents with children from grades one to 12 about how well they can help their children with their homework.

There are a few different reasons why parents have trouble. Just over 46 percent of the parents surveyed said they don't understand the subject matter. Some educators in Utah said this may be partly due to subjects becoming harder over the past couple of decades.

Oxford Academy Owner Millicent Jacobson said there are certain subjects on college entrance exams now that didn't used to be there 20 years ago.

"It would have maybe a couple of algebra courses on it, geometry and a lot of just fundamental math," she said.

A third of the parents surveyed said their children don't want their help. Jacobson said many parents don't know how to explain the information to the child even if they do understand it.

Why do parents have trouble?
Of those parents who said they have trouble helping their children with homework:
  • 22% - Too busy
  • 32% - Kids don't want help
  • 47% - Don't understand the material
Source: Education Week blog

"They're not trained educators. So sometimes they don't see why the child isn't understanding the question," she said.

She also said a lot of parents make the mistake of helping their kids with their studies after they've done their chores at home, just before they go to bed.

"What it comes down to is that both of you are a little cranky and it's not the best of circumstances to study or to learn anything," Jacobson said.

She said this will only frustrate both the child and the parent and it could have a bad ripple effect later on.

"When it comes down to the point they have to make critical choices in life, they're not going to go to you," she warned.

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