Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Homework: Setting Your Child Up for Success

The hot summer months are quickly coming to a close, and children and teenagers are starting to head back to school. Apart from the usual back-to-school anxieties of meeting new classmates and teachers, one thing that many children struggle with is getting into a habit of doing their homework on a nightly basis. Most parents have had the experience of their child coming to them at 9 PM on a school night and saying, "This huge assignment is due tomorrow and I haven't even started. Can you help me please?" In order to avoid situations like this, here are some ways that parents can help their children complete their homework and establish good study habits.

Have a specific time set aside for homework

Rules and guidelines for when to do homework need to be clearly defined early on in the school year. Parents should choose a time (say, 7:00 to 7:30) every night that is "homework time." During this time, TV should not be watched, cell phones should not be used, and all other distractions should be eliminated while your child completes their homework. Depending on the child's age, it may be necessary for a parent to sit down with them and offer assistance. Helping kids avoid frustration and distractions with their homework is critical in developing good, effective habits.

Choose an effective study area

One problem that many young students have with their homework is that they try to do it while sitting in front of the TV or around other distractions. Homework should never be done while sitting on the couch. Talk with your child and decide on an area of the house that would be the best place for them to complete homework. The kitchen table is a good option because it is usually spacious, well-lit, and free of distractions. Also consider purchasing your child a desk for their bedroom. Ensure that the desk is large enough so that your child can spread out their books and papers without frustration. Going along with that, it is also important that your child has easy access to supplies they will need to complete their homework. Make sure that paper, pencils, markers, calculators, etc. are on hand and easily accessible so your child will be empowered to complete their homework.

Offer assistance when needed

It's important for parents to remember that a child's homework is the child's responsibility. Parents should avoid completing homework for their children. Instead, parents should offer assistance in situations where it is needed. For example, if your child is studying for a spelling test, it makes sense for you to help quiz them on the spelling words. You could also make flash cards to quiz your son or daughter on math problems they've been learning. Assistance should vary depending on the child's age. Younger children are more likely to be frustrated with homework and may require a helping hand most nights. At the very least, you should check in with your child several nights a week and ask them what projects and homework they are working on and if they need assistance.

Reward your child

There are many ways to effectively reward your child when they have done well in their studies. Perhaps the simplest way is to offer verbal praise and approval. If your child starts working on their homework with no prodding from you, make sure you let them know that you appreciate it. Besides verbal rewards, it may be effective to offer your children TV time or video game time in exchange for concentrated effort on their homework. During the week, children could be rewarded with "friend time" after successfully completing their studies during "homework time." If habits like this are established early on in a child's life, they have a far greater chance of enduring throughout the child's teenage years in high school.  

This post was written by Derek Dasher who is a frequent contributor at a provider of home security systems for families.
Image Citations: apdk & WellSpringCS

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