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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

When homework goes wrong

When homework goes wrong, parents should remember three rules, writes K.J. Dell’Antonia in Medium.

1. It’s not yours. 2. What kids learn from homework is rarely on the worksheet. 3. You don’t want to make tonight’s homework better. You want to make ALL the homework better.

If it seems like an unreasonable assignment, consider the possibility “that the reading assignment was given last week, not last night, or that the project was discussed in the first week of class,” writes Dell’Antonia. Or your kid got it wrong.

 . . . if your concerns go beyond one night’s assignment to the workload, the approach, or your child’s repeated struggles? Then you will be reaching out to the teacher— but with thought and appreciation and an expectation that you share an interest in making things work. Start by describing what you’ve observed—the word problems take a lot of time, the timed math practice makes your child anxious, your child is spending three hours a night on the reading— and ask if you can get together to discuss.

Sometimes, that works, writes Dell’Antonia. If it doesn’t she recommends her e-book,  Is It the Homework, or Is It Your Kid?, which is available on her website or from

The only homework crises I can remember involve me running out to the 24-hour RiteAid for poster board at 9:45 pm on Sunday night. (I finally bought a whole bunch, which my daughter was using to make posters all the way through 12th grade. She had to make a damn poster for AP English!)

What can parents do if a child is overwhelmed with what seems to be useless or excessive homework?

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