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How Much Help Is Enough?Homework: How Much Help Is Enough?

Your student is learning how to learn! Here are some suggestions for supporting a growth mindset in your student, encouraging effort and critical thinking WITHOUT rescuing them. "Help" at home should always be about the student's thinking and the student's learning. Their brain needs a chance to think and create new neuro-pathways. If your student becomes stressed or overwhelmed while working at home, have them take a brain break by having a snack or playing outside for a while. They will think more clearly when they return to their task.

If you personally enjoy mathematics, you can let it rub off on them by appreciating their strategies and efforts, which may look different than yours. If algebra is your go-to strategy, keep in mind that your student has limited experiences with algebra right now, and will have a different strategy that may be surprisingly sophisticated.

If you personally have negative feelings about mathematics, please set them aside and allow your student to see themselves as capable learners. Celebrate perseverance, help them write down questions to ask the next day, make a game out of practicing multiplication, or ask them to tell you about something new they've recently learned.

Help your child think through a task and make some decisions on their own about how to proceed. Have them look up a confusing word, ask them why they think their current strategy isn’t working, If some of their numbers make no sense, help them figure out why. Break a problem down into smaller parts, encourage them to make full sense of the situation before they tackle the question, or ask them to draw a picture that may shed some light on a complicated problem.

When working with your student, it is important to praise their effort, not their intelligence. Studies show that this has a positive effect on their internal beliefs about their capabilities and encourages them to take risks and persist with harder problems.

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Pat Ciula
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