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Making Homework “Work” for Your Child

Tips for Parents to Help Make Homework More Effective and Less Stressful

Homework is an important part of your child’s education and provides numerous benefits. Doing homework can help students understand and retain the information they are learning in the classroom. It can also help students develop good study habits and encourage independence and personal responsibility.

But getting students to focus on school work outside the classroom can be a challenge. It can also be stressful for both students and parents. But there are things parents can do to make homework less of a chore and to ensure their children reap the benefits of homework.

Be Involved!
The most important thing you can do to help your child with homework is to be informed and involved in his or her education. Go over the homework with your child each night so you are aware of what he or she is working on in school. Communicate with your child’s teacher about homework, classroom assignments and your child’s progress. The more you know about what (and how) your child is doing in school, the more you can help when there is homework to be done.

Be a Positive Role Model
If you are positive and encouraging about doing homework, your children are more likely to be that way. Model good work behaviors to help young children understand that “homework” is something adults do, too. While your child is doing homework, do paperwork, pay bills or balance your checkbook to set a positive example about completing responsibilities.

Establish a Homework Routine
Children generally function better when they have a regular routine that they can count on. Some children do best when they begin homework as soon as they come home from school. Others need a break first and may be better served starting homework after dinner. Discover what works best for your child, then do your best to stick to that routine.

Create a Homework “Center”
Establish a specific place in your home to do homework. It can be a desk in an office or bedroom, the kitchen table, or anywhere your child can work quietly without distractions during homework time. It should be well-lit and large enough to accommodate your child’s papers and books. Make sure your child has the appropriate supplies (pencils, dictionary, rulers, etc.) at hand in the homework center to avoid disruptions and last-minute searching.

Do Challenging Work First
Before beginning homework, help your child determine what to do first. Often it is less stressful to start with the more difficult homework while your child has high energy, then finish up with easier homework as they start to wear down.

Take a Break
If your child becomes overwhelmed or too frustrated during homework time, take a break. A few minutes away from the situation can help re-energize your child so they can start fresh. Offer a drink or snack, play a quick game or just have a few minutes of quiet time the next time homework stress levels run high. Just be sure not to break for too long or it may be difficult to get your child’s attention back on homework.

Don’t Do the Work for Your Child
Parents should provide guidance, not do the work. If your child needs help, offer suggestions but not answers. Doing the work for your child won’t help your child learn the material and will leave the impression that when a task is difficult, he or she can just give up and let someone else do it.

Applaud Success
As with everything your child does, be sure to recognize their homework achievements! Praise your child’s good homework behaviors. When your child completes a particularly difficult homework assignment, consider offering a reward like making their favorite dinner or planning a special activity. When you recognize your child’s efforts, you reinforce and encourage them.

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