Study finds helping kids with their homework has no impact on academic achievement

If you’re like most parents, the thought of helping your child with their homework elicits equal parts dread and anxiety. It’s not that our intentions aren’t well-meaning, it’s just… a lot. There’s the emotional toll of trying to make your kid sit while you quickly Google this newfangled way of doing math mixed with the desire to just do it yourself to get the entire experience over with faster. But our help in the homework department isn’t actually necessary or impactful, according to this study.

“There is no statistically significant association between parental help with homework in elementary school and children’s achievement, period,” says the study’s lead author and professor of education Katerina Bodovski.

When looking for bias, Penn State College of Education researchers found the results didn’t vary by parental level of education, socioeconomic status, or their child’s achievement level. They also discovered that any potential benefits of helping our kids is outweighed by three measures: cognitive loss, adverse effects on home emotional climate, and deferred responsibility.

“If the purpose of homework is for the child to practice some skills or knowledge they learned in school, that is lost if the parent is doing the work,” Bodovski said, implying more parents than not fall into to the “let’s get this over with” camp.

They also found that helping our kids “may contribute to a sense of deferred responsibility among children” because they aren’t learning themselves how to prepare, plan, or stay on task. “The kids don’t get to experience struggling,” Bodovski continued. “Elementary school is about the growth in the knowledge but even more so in child’s skills and habits.”

For parents feeling guilty about the dread they feel when it comes to homework help, it’s time to rejoice. There are very few things we can get away with not doing for our kids, and it turns out, helping them with homework may actually be hurting them in the long run. Sounds like a win-win to us.

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