Homework is a daily, year-round activity for many students. As children progress through the grades, the homework reading load increases along with expectations for learning. Some children are quick readers who enjoy having opportunities to read a wide variety of books for homework assignments. Other students struggle to read and find homework a stressful and unpleasant chore.
Family time and extra-curricular activities compete with daily homework assignments. Many families end up using weekends to complete homework projects that require long blocks of time for reading, research, purchasing materials, and conducting experiments. Many schools send home required summer reading lists, making homework a part of life all year long.
You can help children manage their homework with the 3 Tís: time, things, and thoughts.
- Plan a set time for homework each day
- Make sure kids have all the things they need to do their homework
- Help your child gather their thoughts before starting homework and stay focused
- Set goals each week and write them on a family calendar.
- Break long assignments down and work on them a little each day.
- Make sure kids have a quiet place to work that is close enough for you to hear them when they need help.
- Ask the teacher if there are any acceptable shortcuts such as using a calculator after doing a certain number of problems, skipping assignments if grades are at an acceptable level, or doing an oral report instead of a written report.
- Set priorities. Decide what to do first and check off work as you complete it. Sometimes it helps to finish the easiest assignments first.
- Consequences. Itís hard for parents to allow their kids to face consequences that might be difficult or even harsh. But it helps kids to find out for themselves what happens when they choose not to do homework. Avoiding that consequence can be a huge motivation.
- Take care of the body. Kids can focus on homework only if they are not too tired or hungry. Some kids need time to exercise outside to get the blood flowing and clear their heads.
- Ask the teacher what study techniques your child has learned and remind your child to try those. If the school isnít teaching any study skills, ask them to start doing it. Many states require that kids 8-12 be taught study skills to help them learn more efficiently and effectively.
- Ask the teacher what memorization techniques your child has learned and reinforce those new skills.
- If your child seems stressed about homework and the amount of reading they are asked to do, or if they are not able to complete reading assignments in what seems like an appropriate amount of time, set up a teacher conference. Most teachers will work with parents whose children struggle to complete homework.
As a parent you can encourage and expect your childís best effort, and at the same time, help your child find the right balance between homework and downtime.