How Parents Can Help with Middle School Homework Challenges

At some point, all middle school parents experience the Sunday night homework announcement: suddenly, your student has a shoebox diorama due in third period history class tomorrow—and he or she hasn’t started it yet.

With the move to middle school comes major change: shifting to bell schedules, an intense focus on social dynamics, and an increase in responsibilities—including homework responsibilities. Even though the start of the middle school year brings more homework and higher expectations for time management, that first bell doesn’t automatically imbue your middle schooler with all the skills to handle the change. For parents, it’s important to strike a balance between giving middle school students the autonomy they crave and the support they need when it comes to homework and time management.

Ways you can help your middle school student with homework challenges include developing a homework tracking system, practicing task assessment, and encouraging the implementation of study breaks. Read on to learn how parents can help with middle school homework challenges:

[RELATED: 4 Ways Parents Can Help Middle School Students Succeed]

Middle school homework solution #1: Develop a tracking system

Speak with your student about how homework changes in middle school, such as more frequent long-term projects and a heavier homework load overall. Together, brainstorm ways to keep track of homework assignments. Keep in mind that the school may have its own system, such as an online calendar or a mandatory student planner. If not, some ideas might include:

  • Writing homework out on a calendar, in a planner, or on an app

  • Reviewing new assignments as the first homework task each day

  • Creating a checklist or chart for the kitchen (or another common area).

Then, give your student regular reminders to stick to the plan you’ve created together—that way, he or she stays accountable.

Middle school homework solution #2: Let your student struggle occasionally

If the dreaded Sunday night homework crisis does occur, and your student has a book report due tomorrow for a book he or she hasn’t read, consider simply letting your student endure the consequences of procrastination. Ask your student what his or her plan is to handle the short timeline. If he or she needs to go to the store for supplies, make yourself available to drive there, but don’t do the project for your student. Having to turn in a late or sub-par assignment will help your student learn to avoid the same situation in the future—and you can help drive the lesson home by talking with him or her about a plan for approaching the work differently next time.

[RELATED: Middle School Parent-Teacher Conferences: What to Ask]

Middle school homework solution #3: Practice task assessment

Another skill you can help your student develop is to help him or her look at assignments ahead of time and analyze how much work they will take. If your student is sticking to a tracking system, you can help read over the assignment or look through the problems before they are due and estimate how much time, materials, reading, or other preparation will be required. Add those things to the planner or calendar as needed, and work with your child to spread out any heavy workloads in a realistic way.

Middle school homework solution #4: Implement breaks and other study skills

Middle school is going to require longer homework sessions and different types of studying. Help your student create good study habits by encouraging him or her to take regular, short breaks and to study using different methods like flashcards, rewriting notes, analyzing math problems that were missed, participating in group study sessions, and other techniques beyond simply reviewing notes.

As your child gets into the pre-teen and teen years, your role as a parent will need to shift from helping directly with homework assignments to helping your student manage time and tasks effectively. Taking an active role in teaching him or her organization, time management, analysis, and planning skills while allowing more control over the details will build lifelong capability and confidence.

[RELATED: 3 Ways to Effectively Communicate With Your Child’s Teacher]


Any topics you want to know more about? Let us know! The Varsity Tutors Blog editors love hearing your feedback and opinions. Feel free to email us at