What do you think about this scenario? Martin just started junior high last week and is already feeling a little overwhelmed about having so many different classes, with different teachers, and each having different homework! He sees other kids with lots of binders and folders, color coded pens, and always writing things down. He wonders how he will keep track of his notes and assignments, and if he should buy a binder and folders. His mom never made it past 6th grade so she doesn't know how to help him when he asks her about classes. He thinks about going to one of his teachers and asking him about what he should do, but Martin feels intimidated asking for help since he doesn’t know them. He feels too nervous and thinks it is it's too much work to ask for help. Martin decides he is probably fine to do what he has always done, so he puts his homework away in his backpack to pull it out later at home. He decides this and quickly feels better and goes outside to play with his friends. This article provides facts about homework and ways to help your mentee get organized and develop better study skills.
Advice and Resources for
Helping Your Mentee with Homework
This section of the Mentor Resource Center provides articles on various topics related to supporting your mentee's academic performance and assisting them with their schoolwork.
Helping with homework and academic skills is an important, although sometimes challenging, part of mentoring. You can help your mentee with homework and academics in a variety of different ways, either by directly working on their homework with them, helping them improve their study habits, or practicing skills that will directly improve their ability to do well on their assignments.
There are clear benefits to helping your mentee with his or her homework and academic skills, both for your mentee and for your relationship. Homework supplements and reinforces work done in school, students who put regular time and effort into doing their homework tend to do better on exams1, and doing homework improves students’ discipline, organization, and time-management skills. It also develops positive attitudes towards school and reinforces the idea that learning extends beyond the classroom. In addition, many of the skills mentees learn by working on their academics, such as organization and task management, will directly translate into future success in most jobs and life in general. On the personal side, supporting your mentee with homework gives you something to do together, provides a goal you both can work towards and celebrate, and encourages a trusting, supportive, and cohesive relationship. And of course helping your mentee succeed in school will make you feel great!
However, helping with homework isn’t always easy and its important to have realistic expectations. Mentees may feel overwhelmed and discouraged about their ability to complete their assigned work. Some may be distracted by family problems. Others may be reluctant to work on assignments they find boring, or may worry that will be teased as the “smart kid.” Even factors such as nutrition can affect a mentee’s willingness or ability to work.
While getting your mentee interested in doing homework with you might be a struggle, the consequences of not learning these important skills and falling behind on their work can be devastating. Since repetition is an important part of the learning process, students who fail to do their homework will have a weaker understanding of the material, which is likely to be reflected in lower grades and test scores. This in turn can lead to a more negative attitude towards school and lower self-esteem.
Luckily you can help! As a mentor, you can encourage your mentee to make finishing his or her homework a priority. Articles in this section include: “Helping Your Mentee with Homework" and "Back to School" provide with tips on how to help your mentee structure their homework time. See also “Consistency and Communication,", which will help you to discuss homework with your mentee and persuade him or her to make working on homework a consistent part of your relationship. For background information on why homework is important, check out “About Homework”. And for useful links to homework resources, try Projectappleseed.org/homework or the Khan Academy.
1 “About Homework.”