Is homework a struggle for your child? Most of us remember homework as part of our own learning experience, but not all of those memories are fond.
You might remember slaving away over a research paper while your friends were having fun, or lower grades when you missed turning in a homework assignment. You might also remember discovering the key to a challenging math problem during independent practice, or discovering a passion through learning what you liked to spend the most time on.
[su_pullquote align=”right”]Most experts agree that you can help your child be successful with homework by establishing some guidelines and routines.[/su_pullquote]Believe it or not, teachers don’t assign homework because they enjoy it. Most genuinely believe that homework allows for valuable practice time and extension on learning. There is evidence to support both the benefits of homework and why it might not be the best idea. Our perceptions of homework might be changing, but right now it is still part of the routine at most schools.
Most experts agree that you can help your child be successful with homework by establishing some guidelines and routines, while also allowing them the independence to develop their own habits. One of the best ways to support a homework routine is to model the structures that help you to do your own best work.
Turn homework time into a routine that the family shares. In Psychology Today, Clinical Professor of Psychology Dr. Kenneth Barish offers the following tips for establishing a homework plan:
- Set aside a specified, limited, time for homework. For instance, establish an early evening homework hour.
- Respect your child’s after-school time. Immediately after school may not be the best time for homework, as many schools plan activities right after school– or your child may need some time for free play to relax.
- Disconnect. Turn off all electronics unless they are necessary for assignments. Adults can show their support by joining in.
- Establish community. Complete homework in a family place, in the kitchen or at the dining room table. Most elementary school children are able to focus best with an adult and even other children present to normalize the experience, rather than solo in their rooms.
- Complete your own work— but be continuously available. You might finish your own ‘homework’ during this time, but be present to support, encourage, and answer questions. Try to create an atmosphere where all resources— including your support— are focused on the task at hand.
- Start with the timing that feels right, and then adjust. If your child is unable to focus on homework for work for 30 minutes straight, start with 10 minutes, then work up to 20.
- Always encourage. Call attention to your child’s every improvement— not their every mistake.
- Praise generously. Celebrate your child’s effort and improvements, not their innate abilities.
- Assume there will be setbacks. Every new session is a ‘reset’— a chance to try again, and make the experience more constructive than the last round.
- Be patient. Often challenges with homework begin with frustration, but then develop into defiance or feelings of unfairness. Establishing a consistent routine will begin to help, but it may not happen overnight.
A few other useful tips:
- Establish a call (or text) list for each class. Help your child to identify three or four peers who share the same class, and exchange contact numbers. This will help when questions arise, or when they forget something they needed to complete an assignment.
Make sure the work area is homework-friendly. As many supplies as possible— paper, pencils, glue, scissors, kleenex— should be easily within reach. Sometimes that trip upstairs to ‘get something’ is all that is needed to break focus
Set a realistic schedule. It’s might be tempting to book the family calendar chock-full of fun, non-school-related activities. But children need to have some downtime, and to perceive your support in time dedicated to their learning.
Establish (and keep) open communication with teachers. You serve as part of the team that monitors your child’s learning experience with homework. Attend conferences to learn about homework expectations, and communicate what you observe about your child’s progress.
Many parents report that their children’s homework causes family stress and tension, for a wide variety of reasons. If homework has turned into a battleground in your family, we can help. Back to Basics is the only call you need to make for strategies that will help your child to be successful with homework and school.
Give us a call today at 302-594-0754, or use our contact form to learn more.