Homework is a critical portion of a child’s academic life and is often a predictor of educational success. To help families make the most of homework time, educators offer these tips:
Find the right schedule. Some kids need a break when they get home. Others lose steam if they don’t do their assignments right away. Try doing homework at different times to see where you have the greatest success. Then create a consistent routine based on what works best for your child.
Create a study space.Children need a desk-like area for doing homework, free of distractions. And for some, a bedroom may be problematic because tempting possessions could divert their attention. The same holds true for high traffic areas. Find your child a consistent place away from distractions, but make yourself available for offering guidance or making sure they are staying on task.
Tuned in or out? Some children enjoy listening to music while studying, but parents need to consider their child’s learning style and the type of media he’s tuning in to. While a small percentage of children do better with a little background noise, the majority need quiet.
Ally. When offering guidance, read together, help with directions, and review the first few problems to make sure your child understands the concepts. Then let him work independently while you remain available for questions. Follow up by checking for quality. If you see several mistakes, encourage your child to make corrections. But don’t fix it for him. Teachers would prefer the work come back wrong rather than having a parent make needed corrections. If the work is replete with errors, let it go and send a note to the teacher saying your child didn’t understand the work. Another thing that may help is a homework buddy. Encourage your child to partner with a classmate so they can be in contact with one another if either has trouble while completing an assignment.
Quickly review. Reviewing previous lessons is beneficial in refreshing a student’s memory, particularly with subjects like math where one concept builds upon another. Have your child explain/review the highlights of past lessons. Keep it brief so he’s still engaged for the current assignment.
Time management. If your child is working for an extended period of time, consider the cause. Is he tired? Unfocused? Bored? Not understanding the material? If he’s procrastinating, set a timer or offer an incentive for completing the assignment on time. If, your child is diligent and still spending too much time, let the teacher know. She may be able to help him understand the material, or she may suggest an evaluation to rule out any learning disabilities or attention disorders.
Pertinent patterns. If you find your child frequently saying he doesn’t understand, it may be a clue he needs extra school support or a tutor. Likewise, if he effortlessly whips through his assignments day after day, it may be an indication he’s not being challenged. Homework isn’t supposed to be overly difficult, but students should have to put some time and thought into it. Look for patterns that something is happening, either good or bad. Then, communicate with the teacher and ask for her suggestions.
Organize and plan. Urge your child to take charge of beginning and finishing homework while utilizing a check-off list. When she starts to receive long-term projects, get her to plan the work using a calendar for optimal time management and organizational skills. Suggest breaking down large projects into their smallest parts that require daily attention—reading “X” number of pages, for example. Check periodically to make sure she’s on task.
Sick Study. If your child is going to be out for several days, contact the teacher and let her know. If he isn’t going to be completely incapacitated, it’s best to ask the teacher to send a few things your way.
Communicate. Make sure you have the best way to contact your child’s teacher—by phone or email. Then if an issue arises, let the teacher know immediately. Small problems can have a domino effect if not attended to right away. Even if things are going swimmingly from your point of view, the teacher might have a different perspective—so make sure to touch base with her frequently.
Courtesy of Nemours.