Strategies Parents Can Use to Help Homework Go Smoothly
September 14, 2018
Guest Post by Emily Graham, Mighty Moms
For many parents, helping kids with their homework means sitting down at the dining room table with books and papers spread around, going over problem after problem in detail. However, there’s a school of thought that says if this is how you’re helping kids do their homework, you’re missing a big part of the picture. There’s more to completing homework assignments than what happens on weekday evenings after dinner.
Students should also learn organization, planning, discipline and organization by doing homework. This is widely considered the best way for parents to help, rather than sitting down the night before an assignment is due, trying to remember your high school algebra or history lessons. Here are some valuable tips that can help guide you toward a more helpful approach to homework.
Know what you need
Perhaps the most important thing you can do is meet with your kid’s teachers early in the school year so you know what they’re looking for in homework assignments, and how you can help your kid get the most out of the experience. Familiarize yourself with school policies about late submissions, grading scales and what format assignments should follow.
The homework zone
It’s very important to set up a work area your child knows is for homework. Setting up a “homework zone” will discourage your young student from doing homework in front of the television, where his attention is sure to wander. Pick an area that’s secluded and clear of distractions; no gaming systems or handheld devices allowed other than what’s needed to complete the assignment. The space should be well-lit and well-organized so they know where to find books and materials they need.
Once you’ve got a study space established, lay down a homework schedule, a non-negotiable timetable for getting the work done every night. This schedule should be part of getting the kids organized for homework at the beginning of each week. Some parents like to set homework time for after dinner, maybe 6:30 to 8:30 each night with a break included for a drink and a quick snack. However, if your children work better in the afternoon, set down a two- to three-hour stretch right after school. Kids are often better at getting homework done following school when the material’s still fresh in their minds and they’re still in a school “frame of mind.” Remind them that the sooner they get the work done, the more time they can have to themselves in the evening.
Break it up
On nights when the homework is heavy, help your kids set up a work schedule that allots a certain amount of time for each assignment. This will help break the work up, rather than insisting kids sit still for hours at a stretch until it’s all done. If possible, try to set a 10- or 15-minute break every hour. Be encouraging and hand out praise when they complete a particularly difficult assignment, and be available if they have a question. Offer a reward of some kind for getting everything done on time, maybe a trip to the ice cream shop or an extra hour of gaming time.
If your daughter is good at math, a son who struggles with it is likely to ask for help. Make sure she’s not doing it for him. The only way to learn is for them to get through each homework assignment on their own. If someone’s having persistent trouble in a subject, communicate with the teacher or find a local tutoring center that can present and teach the information in a way your child understands.
Learning with dogs
Does your family have a dog? Why not work in a fun assignment involving dogs to help encourage your child to learn by doing. The American Kennel Club offers a number of lessons for kids of all ages. Middle and high school students can learn about canine legislation, careers working with dogs, as well as lessons involving math and language arts. Why not do an outdoor assignment together on the weekend? Go for a walk in the woods and see if you can find and identify animal tracks (dogs included!).
Organization and planning are key to helping children succeed with their homework. Kids need a plan for doing homework to avoid confusion, keep from missing assignments and to derive maximum benefit from the work.
By Emily Graham
Learn more at Mighty Moms online
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