Research tells us that kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework. It helps students understand that what they do when they aren’t in the classroom is also very important to their education.
Of course, helping with homework shouldn’t mean spending hours hunched over a desk with your child after you have been at work all day. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating organization skills, sharing their own experience setting and achieving short-term goals, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break if they get overwhelmed. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!
So, how can you as a parent help your child get the most out of their homework? Here are some tips to guide the way:
- Know the teachers — and what they’re looking for. Attend school events like parent-teacher conferences and meet your child’s teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved. Knowing the teacher’s expectations upfront can help avoid frustrations later.
- Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
- Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period. Others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
- Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there’s an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child to break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
- Make sure kids do their own work. They won’t learn if they don’t think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions, but it’s a kid’s job to do the learning!
- Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
- Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents’ examples than their advice.
- Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives. Don’t underestimate the power of praise!
- If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Discuss any issues that arise with your child’s teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses, while others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.