Now that the holiday season is officially underway, homework is probably the last thing on any kid’s mind! But with the first quarter of the school year over and report cards distributed, this might be a good time to check in with your child and review how he or she is handling the workload. Are they feeling overwhelmed? How are they doing prioritizing tasks and juggling projects? And the homework – do they need help in organizing assignments or just getting down to work? The task of completing homework can sometimes be a battleground that affects both a child’s self-esteem and your relationship with your child. Here are some tips from a piece I wrote for FamilyCorner.com about developing a homework routine for your child that can help take the hassle out of homework:
Expectations: Examine the school’s homework expectations and guidelines, then discuss them and your own expectations with your child regarding how long to spend on homework each evening and/or any goals for the upcoming semester. Make sure the two of you are on the same page regarding these expectations.
Set up a calendar: A visual aide like this can help with long-term planning and setting priorities. Make note of assignment and project due dates as well as test dates. Advise your child to get the phone numbers of his ‘homework buddies’ – two other students in his classes whom he can call in case of missed assignments or notes – and write these numbers on the calendar.
Concentration takes energy: No one works well on an empty stomach. Offer a healthy snack before they sit down to begin homework.
Set up a time and space for homework to happen: For some kids, that means starting homework right after school; others may need a little time to unwind. Agree on a start time and stick to it. Set up a space that’s conducive for work, be it the desk in his room or the kitchen or dining room table. This space should be away from distractions like the television or computer (unless it’s necessary to complete homework). Stock the space with the necessary supplies (paper, pencils, pens, rulers, etc.) to complete homework with minimal interruptions.
Be the fly on the wall: You don’t want to do their homework for them, but let them know you’re there if they need help (or a little encouragement!).
Packing up: At the end of the homework session have your child neatly put away all papers, binders/folders and supplies into their backpack. It’s better to do this the night before than the following morning when it’s more likely that something might be forgotten.
If they need extra help: There is often a ‘homework help’ period available after school with a teacher or a peer tutor. Check if this is available at your school or if something can be arranged if your child is having trouble managing the homework load.
Will your child be writing a book report over the school break? Check out Tips to Help Your Child Write A Successful Book Report for some ideas to organize the process.