To Help or Not To Help… that is the Question….

I came across this article about parents helping out their students with homework. As children age, a parent was beginning to question how much involvement they should have with homework.

The author, who has children in 1st and 2nd grade, feels that it is her responsibility to have her children complete their homework every night.

She concluded that there are three methods of parenting and homework:

Method 1:

The parent is a supervisor and checks work when finished.

Method 2:

The parent sets the child up to study (routine place/time) and reviews material. However, the parent leaves the children to complete the assignment on their own.

Method 3:

They do everything to help them finish so that the child can do whatever they want after school.

While the author felt she has been guilty of all three methods, she was able to conclude that the role of a parent helping with homework is the following:

  1. It helps to establish a commitment and routine.
  2. It helps them to be more engaged in learning.
  3. It helps me to be more engaged in their education.

As a music educator, I think that the same guidelines are essential to help students be independent musicians. While my mom or dad can’t practice for me (just like how they didn’t do my homework for me), their involvement with my practicing helped me to succeed as a musician.

  1. It helps to establish a commitment and routine.

I always recommend to my parents to have their child play while they are cooking dinner. It provides entertainment for the parent while they are cooking and establishes a clear routine for the student.

  1. It helps them to be more engaged in learning.

They are able to self-regulate their practice sessions at their own pace. Students should be able to note which pieces/selections are more difficult and focus on them.

  1. It helps me to be more engaged in their education.

It is important to know what your child is practicing. Don’t just sit them down in front of a music stand and walk away, expecting that they are able to practice effectively. For younger child, it is important that parents are engaged and are interactive. As the children get older, then the parent is able to slowly step back. However, knowing the expectations or the goal for the child will allows them to succeed.


Growing up, my mom always sat with me while I practiced when I first began playing the piano and the flute. When I was in kindergarten and starting Suzuki piano, she sat next to me on the piano bench and guided me through my practice sessions. 30 minutes a day was part of my daily chore chart and in order for me to receive my allowance; I had to make sure they were checked off my chart every day. Eventually, I switched from the piano to the flute in the 4th grade. My mom, once again, sat in the living room as I practiced. She would play the piece that I was learning on the piano some times when I wasn’t quite sure if I was playing the right notes or rhythm. By the time I was in the 6th grade, my mom stopped sitting in the same room as she knew that I was able to facilitate my own practicing sessions (and also the fact that the music I was playing, was beyond her musical ability.)   My mom still established a routine of my practice sessions to make sure that I was always prepared for my private flute lessons, performance or recital.

So mom, despite the arguments of a tween not wanting to practice — THANK YOU!


2 thoughts on “To Help or Not To Help… that is the Question….

  1. Whoops. Sorry. I mean Lis’ Mom. I should have listened to Mike’s post about giving one’s self a day off. I’m not feeling well today and probably should stick to something safer like watching Netflix. 🙂


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