Jerri Ann asked, "When do you quit [helping with] homework?"
It's the homeschooler in me that answers, "It depends."
If a student is truly confused, why wouldn't you help them? Because they need to figure it out on their own? That is a great skill to learn. But if we believed that people should always figure things out on their own we'd never try to teach them anything. The learning process is a give and take that, when applied well, leads a student to move beyond what the teacher has taught. Confusion is a terrible state. Sure, don't spoon-feed answers, but simple clarification can be the difference between giving up and a light bulb moment.
If a little instruction will help a student move forward, help them! I am grateful for the friends who help me with things even here at Sonlight. And if I'm not too old to still benefit from a few pointers, I doubt your student is either.
Ultimately, though, I think this sums it up: Learning is far more important than "going at it alone." In fact, pushing students to figure it out on their own may actually reinforce the idea that building on what others have learned is a bad thing... and that would be a terrible mistake. We should all strive to stand on the shoulders of the giants who have gone before us.
I'm not advocating, however, that students should always get your help. I know there were times when I was mentally "dragging my feet" instead of applying myself. In those cases, it was good for my mom to leave me alone. Hand holding wasn't going to help me.
As a teacher you are your student's weightlifting partner. You're there to help lift the bar when the weight becomes too great. But you'd do no favors if you carried the burden instead.
Now I just mixed my metaphors...
Lifting Weights on the Shoulders of Giants
Filmmaker, Writer, Surrogate Father