Back to school means back to afternoons filled with papers, books and homework assignments. Homework is a reality for nearly every student from the early grades and becomes more involved in the later school years. Some students complete homework willingly with little assistance. Others may need incentives and supervision to get the job done.
Homework should be a priority for the afternoon, but does not always need to be completed right after a child walks in the door. Some children benefit from having time to unwind from the school day before getting in gear for homework. These kids may do well with a snack and 30 minutes of physical play before beginning a study session. Other children may quickly become distracted and hard to engage again if allowed too long a break between schoolwork and homework. For these kids, it may be best to unpack and get down to working.
Find a spot that is designated for homework. This location may be different depending on each individual child’s temperament and motivations. Some children study best at a desk in a quiet bedroom. Others need to study where a parent can monitor, such as a kitchen table or counter top. Homework should be done in an environment that is as free of distractions as possible.
Assist your child in getting started on homework. Some children need help organizing their homework. Look over all that is to be done that night and list them all with your child. Help your child to break assignments into smaller parts that may seem less overwhelming. Have a calendar for bigger or long-range projects, with portions to be completed each day. This alleviates the stress of having to do a large assignment at the last minute.
A key strategy for a struggling student is to tackle the most dreaded assignment first. Some people call this strategy ‘eat the frog’, which comes from a saying by Mark Twain “If you eat a live frog first thing in the morning, nothing worse can happen to you for the rest of the day’’. If you get the worst, most daunting, most disliked homework out of the way, the rest will seem much easier.
Allow your child to take breaks in between assignments. Be sure these breaks are short and not too distracting. Stretching or taking a walk away from homework for a brief period may help your child recharge. Set a time limit on homework. If you feel your child has been working diligently for a long period of time without completing assignments, send a note to the teacher explaining the situation.
Be available for assistance, but avoid doing the homework for your child. For some families, the parent attempting to help with homework struggles leads to frustration for both the parent and the student. Have the phone number of a ‘study buddy’ that your child can call. Consider hiring a tutor for older kids or more difficult subjects. Check the homework for completion and understanding of the concept. However, it isn’t necessary for your child to turn in a ‘perfect’ paper. Be sure to praise your child for their efforts.
Finally, ensure that all completed homework is organized and returned to a notebook or backpack for return to school. Nothing is more frustrating for students and parents then arriving to school with homework that has mysteriously vanished!!!