In previous school years, I believe I used to step over the bounds of offering too much homework help to one of my sons by giving him answers when I should have made him struggle through assignments. But this year, I have turned a corner and I am now telling him, more and more, “sorry I can’t answer that for you. You are going to have to figure that out yourself.”
So, the other night, when he asked for help on some algebra problems, I showed him some examples and made sure he understood the concepts. I then told him he had the tools to figure out the problems. When he solved a particularly difficult problem with no help from me, I said “see, you can do this yourself.”
The smile on his face confirmed to me again that genuine achievement, not false praise, is what will motivate him to do better in math.
What ideas do you have for striking that balance between helping too much or not helping enough? I am still struggling with finding that balance.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.