Helping your child develop good homework habits is like teaching him to brush his teeth or go to bed on time; it takes a structured routine, consistency, and patience. Of course, these are three things many of us struggle to find at the end of a busy day. Here are some tips on how to make homework a priority and still have time to kick around the soccer ball:
Know the teacher’s homework policies and expectations. You may have to call the teacher at the beginning of the year to learn her expectations. Some schools have online programs or voicemail systems that allow parents to review new assignments daily. Your child should know his/her assignments as well.
Make homework a priority in your home. Tell your child how important it is to complete each assignment and show your child your support by being physically near your child while he is working. You can finish your own work, clean the kitchen, or pay the bills. Check in occasionally and be available for questions, but try not to give the answers or do the work yourself. Check over the completed homework and sign it.
Organization and Workspace Routine
Have the same homework routine each day. Ask your child to write down his or her assignments in a special book or calendar. Your child’s teacher may have a special folder for homework assignments, especially in the younger grades. Create a special homework spot. It can be at the kitchen table or a spot in the den. Few children work well independently in their bedrooms unless you accompany them, especially in the elementary and middle school years. Remember to turn off the TV and remove other distractions.
Have supplies on hand―paper, pencils and erasers. An electric pencil sharpener is a great investment.
Be flexible. Although your routine should remain the same, you may have to adjust the homework time on certain days depending on other family activities. Allow for a break every twenty minutes if necessary and make sure your child is fed. Hungry children work slower and have more difficulty staying focused.
Help your child organize his/her assignments. Have her complete the easier assignments first so she avoids frustration and builds on success.
Balance Guidance and Learning Through Consequences
Children are different, of course, and some will embrace parental attempts at organization while others are much more likely to procrastinate or become distracted. Our job is to help them learn how to become responsible students. Sometimes that means letting them face the consequences of putting homework off until the last minute, and then working with them to avoid future problems.
Finding the Answers
Let’s face it, some of the stuff we parents just won’t know. That’s okay. Be honest. Tell your child you don’t know the answer and try to find it together. There are lots of helpful Web sites:
Work with the Teacher
If your child seems frustrated or constantly resists completing homework assignments, speak with your child’s teacher. Don’t wait for teacher conferences or report cards if you have concerns about your child’s academic performance. Most teachers make themselves available via email or phone, so don’t hesitate to contact them. You are your child’s best advocate. Take an active role in his/her education. By tackling issues as they arise, your child will learn to tackle assignments successfully and develop good study skills as a result. The teacher and school will be eager to give you ideas and suggestions.
- Read Modern Mom’s post about her struggle to lend her son some Homework Help from our Mom to Mom Blog.
- Learn how homework can prepare your four- and five-year old for school readiness in our article: READY for SCHOOL News: What About Homework?
Originally published on Bright Horizons