Helping children with homework
A new school term has started and with it the task of ensuring children do their homework and progress in their overall education, not only to do well academically but also to improve their organisational and coping skills.
Research shows that kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework. It shows kids that what they do is important. This, of course, does not mean that you actually do their work, but direct them to think and show them where they can look for further information or help if they need it. Explaining a challenging problem and encouraging them to take a break in between long stretches of homework is also part of the equation.
Top 10 tips to help children with homework
- Know what the teachers are looking for. Ask about homework policies and how you should be involved at the beginning of the school year to establish the direction you need to take with your child and determine how active your role should be in assisting with their homework.
- Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a comfortable and well-lit place to complete their homework, avoiding television and other distractions like conversations in the background.
- Schedule a regular study time. It is usually advisable for children to get their homework out of the way soon after they arrive from school, following a snack and a short break period. Make sure homework is followed by some other distracting activity, like play, watching TV, doing some sport or even helping out with preparing dinner.
- Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights, encourage your child with breaking down their assignments into smaller manageable tasks. Also make sure your kid allows a short break at least after every hour.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. TV, loud music, conversations and phone calls make children lose their focus. A phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful but even this cannot become a regular habit replacing proper attention in the classroom.
- Make sure kids do their own work. Kids need to understand it is their job to do the learning. They won't learn if they don't think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can only make suggestions.
- Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments and tests. Check completed homework and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
- Set a good example. Kids are more likely to follow their parents' examples than their advice.
- Praise their work and efforts. Exhibit their good reports or art projects on the refrigerator and mention their academic achievements to relatives.
- If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child's teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.