According to a Public Agenda survey, half of U.S. parents report having major disagreements with their children over homework (HALF!!). Considering that homework is a daily ritual, there is potential for regularly scheduled head-butting! As the start of the school year approaches, follow these tips to set up good homework routines from the beginning…
Involve Your Child in the Process
Pick a good, quiet, relatively chaos-free time to sit down with your child to talk about the start of the school year and what would be most helpful around homework routines. Ask for your child to help you pick a good place to do homework. Ideally, your child’s study space should be…
- Within your line of vision (especially if he/she will be using the internet for homework and studying)
- In a place where your child can leave materials without those things being relocated or rearranged (for example, the dining room table is not ideal if someone else needs it in an hour)
- Not in the most distracting, active place in your house (usually, this is the kitchen!)
- Stocked with supplies like loose leaf paper, pencils, a calculator, etc. to prevent your child from jumping up every two minutes to “get something” and therefore avoid work.
Set Up a Schedule that Works for Your Child
After getting home from school, your child should take 10-15 minutes to get a snack, go to the bathroom, take a breath and ease into the new setting. Begin homework time by doing the easiest assignment first, then the hardest, then everything else.
Be prepared to be very hands-on (bossy) during the first few weeks. Depending on your child’s age, level of independence and tolerance for sitting after a full day of school, you may need to monitor your child’s ability to start tasks, continue working to completion and then put homework in the proper place once it is finished.
Your child may need to you to say “Okay, it’s been 15 minutes. Time to start homework!” or “Please take your planner out and show me what you are going to do first.” Some children work well using the “Pomodoro Method.” Named after the tomato replica kitchen timer, this method involves working for a chunk of time (say, 20-25 minutes), then taking a five-minute break.
Talk to Your Child’s Teacher About Helping with Homework
Whether or not to help with homework is one of the most confounding topics in parenthood! The amount of help you give will depend on your child’s teacher and the purpose of the homework. If the homework is meant to be review and/or further practice in something already taught, your child should ideally be fairly independent.
If your child has been taught the skill or activity in question and is frustrated and upset over the difficulty of homework, I say help him/her and then follow-up with the teacher, sharing that your child was frustrated and would probably benefit from more instruction around that topic of skill.
Like all routines, taking the time to walk your child through this process, step-by-step, will be the key ingredient to later success. It is always easier to start with a strict routine and ease off rather then have to crack down later in the year because homework isn’t getting done or grades are slipping. You are coaching your child on developing successful habits, which he/she will eventually use independently down the road.
Want more tips on helping your kids succeed in school? Check out Learning Decoded (learningdecoded.tv), an innovative resource guide for teachers and parents to uncover learning challenges and create a customized plan to help each student learn effectively.