One of the biggest school year challenges facing parents and students is HOMEWORK! For some parents, getting their children to settle down and begin homework is like pulling teeth. For other parents, it’s difficult to find the balance between time spent on afterschool activities and homework. And still other parents struggle to find the tools to help their child with special learning needs. Here are some strategies to help parents and students work together to create “Hassle Free Homework.”
Begin by creating an environment that is favorable for completing homework.
- Involve your child in setting up a regular place to study and do homework. This should be a quiet place, with a designated desk or table. Be sure to stock the desk with school supplies. This will reduce the likelihood of disruptions once homework begins. Also, be sure to provide ample light.
- Set up a regular time for homework. Work with your child to decide what time will work best. Some children need a break after school and are more productive after eating a snack and getting some exercise. Other children work best when they begin their homework immediately after school. Be sure to consider breaks if your child has a short attention span or a lot of assignments.
- Eliminate interruptions and distractions. Avoid locating the study area near the TV or video games. It’s just too tempting. Some students work best with a little background noise. Consider music and headphones.
Next, help your child to develop good study habits.
- Help your child get organized. Utilize a month-at-a glance calendar such as a wall mounted dry erase board or a homework app or an electronic calendar to keep track of important dates such as tests, project due dates, and extracurricular activities. Any of these tools are a great way to assist in developing time management and organizational skills. Help your child to learn to transfer information from his daily agenda book to his calendar. Encourage your child to plan his week based on this calendar.
- Work with your child so that you’re both tech-savvy. Be sure that you and your child are familiar with and have access to any web services or apps that the teacher or school will be using to share assignments or communicate with students. This is a good time to review safe and appropriate use of electronics, as well as establish rules for electronic-free times (ex. dinner time) and electronic-free zones (ex. the bedroom).
- Create incentives. Some children may need some encouragement to complete their homework. Work with your child to identify a reward, such as a preferred activity or hobby, that can be enjoyed once homework is complete. Some children may need to have homework divided into smaller units and rewards may need to be offered part way through an assignment.
- Teach timeliness. Set goals using a clock or timer to help your child develop a sense of time required to complete tasks. Children who tend to procrastinate may also benefit from setting a timer, clearly marking start times and break times.
Next, work with your student to establish accountability.
- Remember, this is your child’s homework and not yours. Offer your child guidance but avoid the temptation to complete the assignment. Allow natural consequences to fall into place, such as a low grade for a missed assignment. But talk to your child’s teacher if a pattern of difficulty completing homework develops.
- Utilize teamwork when your child is having repeated difficulty with homework. Talk with your child and his teacher to come up with possible solutions. Consider modifications in length of assignments, extended time for longer projects, or tutoring.
Finally, reward effort.
- Emphasize doing your personal best. Remind your child that you want them to do their best work, not their fastest work. Teach your child how to check their own progress, checking to see that answers are correct and assignments are complete. Younger children may benefit from having you check their work and provide feedback along the way.
- Provide positive reinforcement. Notice when your child is trying his best. Offer praise and encouragement.
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