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Homeworker helper for Hudson Valley kids and parents

The latest study techniques to boost school success

Helping with homework

One of the best ways to guarantee that your kids succeed in school is to review their homework with them each evening. 

“R” is for research

Brush up on your own reading, writing, and arithmetic. “It is not at all uncommon for parents to have to relearn entire subjects to help their children succeed,” says H&R Block-CEO-turned-inner-city-teacher Tom Bloch. “Help them grasp a concept they’re struggling with.”

While the internet offers a wealth of information, Julie Sanders, a teacher at LaGrange Middle School, warns that it can also be a nuisance. “Kids get lost just ‘Googling’ their topic,” says Sanders. For example, a Google search for ‘George Washington’ returns millions of results (77 million to be exact). Teach your child how to use more specific search phrases such as “George Washington’s wooden teeth.”

Study Style

According to a New York Times article, what we know about studying may be wrong. Here are some common studying myths that were debunked in the piece:

Common Myth #1: Find a Quiet Place to Study

Perhaps the study advice most often given is to find a quiet, dedicated space, whether it is a corner of the library or the desk in a bedroom, and equip it with all you will need. However, research indicates that switching locations for your study session may actually help you retain information more effectively. The theory is that the brain forms stronger connections by associating two environments with the material rather than one, thereby increasing the brain’s ability to recall the information.

Common Myth #2: Study One Concept at a Time

Many students focus on one study topic at time, believing it will help them learn more successfully. It turns out that incorporating a variety of study topics in a single sitting help material sink in better. This is due to the brain recognizing patterns. It’s better to study Cezanne among a group of 20th century masters than to look at only his paintings. 

Common Myth #3: Cram Sessions Work Magic

Cramming for an exam may help your child get a good grade, but the information is often quickly lost. The best approach is to study in shorter intervals of time to increase long-term retention. The Times uses the following metaphor to explain. “Hurriedly jam-packing a brain is akin to speed-packing a cheap suitcase, as most students quickly learn — it holds its new load for a while, then most everything falls out.” 

Parent to parent advice

We asked our readers, “Do you help your children with their homework? What is your favorite subject to help with? What does your help consist of and if a problem comes up, how do you solve it?”


  • Melissa, Wappingers Falls: Yes. English/ writing is my favorite, but math is the boys’ favorite. If a problem comes up, I email the teacher or look at the directions again and try to figure it out. My first graders need more supervision, but my third grader is more independent and only needs me to double check his work.

  • Danielle, Kingston: I sit beside my son every night to help him with homework, but I try to give him some independence too. I also read a book with him most nights. It's good educationally, but also bonding time and it shows my son that I care. Kids are very perceptive!

  • Juan and Ingrid, Newburgh: My son is not in school yet, but we read books together. My favorite subject is science and I can't wait until he is old enough to go to school so we can do all kinds of experiments together!

  • Bethanne, Fishkill: I sit with my kids while they do their homework. My favorite subject is social studies but my son prefers math. If a problem comes up, I call a friend with children the same age.

  • Sharon, Pine Bush: When we have a problem with my daughter's math we ask her grandpa because he is good with math.

  • Maureen, Sherman, CT: My triplet girls just started the homework routine this year in first grade. We are trying to create routine of doing it as soon as we get home. If my husband is around we divide and conquer, if not they wait their turns. Right now the main challenge is keeping them encouraged since they get frustrated sometimes.

  • Matthew, Wappingers Falls: Back in the day I helped my children with homework when I was at home to do so. I used the Socratic method of teaching/tutoring. I would ask questions to lead each of my children in the right direction and have them figure things out from the information at hand. If there were problems, I read the material myself. If all else failed, I called the teacher. One teacher yelled at me for bothering her, but other teachers I called gave me positive responses, with idle chit chat to boot.