If you have school-aged children, you likely have been spending a great deal of time and energy providing homework oversight and assistance. After all, helping our kids reach their full academic potential is an important parental task.

Once kids hit high school, they probably have more homework than ever. They also are old enough to take serious responsibility for their own school successes or failures. So if you have kids past middle school in your house, you may be wondering, “How involved should I be in my high school student's homework?”

The short answer is: not nearly as much as you used to be! Here are some tips for handing homework responsibility over to your high school student:

1. Sit with your high school child early on and help him or her set concrete, realistic academic goals in terms of high school grades and overall grade point average, particularly as they relate to your child’s post-high school plans. This should be an annual (or even “start of semester”) event.

2. Establish consequences, both positive and negative, related to those goals. For example, if your teen’s grades meet the goal on Thursday night, she earns car privileges. If she doesn’t meet the requirement, your child will be staying home to work on improving her grades. Use the online grade book to verify school progress, and decide on a weekly grade book check-in time.

3. Ask your teen to tell you his plan for a homework routine. Insist the plan be specific in terms of when, where and how he will complete homework.

4. Make sure your child knows how to ask a teacher for help and is comfortable doing so. Lots of kids endure academic distress because they’re too shy or embarrassed to ask for help when they need it. Role play, with you as the teacher, to make sure your son or daughter has the skill mastered.

5. Once you and your teen have established goals and routines for homework, just let it go. It now is up to your teen to follow the plan. Don’t nag or check in more often than you’ve agreed. They will experience the natural consequences if they don’t complete their schoolwork.

If your child runs into serious academic trouble, sit down again, review the goals and revise the plan if necessary. If that doesn’t remedy the situation, make an appointment for you and your child to sit down with the school counselor to find out what’s happening and what the options are.

Remember, soon your child will be on their own. High school is the perfect time to for your child to learn self-discipline and responsibility while the home “safety net” still is in place! For more information about parenting and school visit www.boystown.org.


Laura Holmes Buddenberg joined Father Flanagan's Boys' Home in January 2000. As a training manager at Boys Town, Buddenberg works as an administrator, writer and trainer, specializing in teen dating and relationships, media awareness, family spirituality, abuse and other issues affecting today's families.

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