Few children are predisposed to diving into homework with enthusiasm. Most have to be taught the discipline and sense of duty required to stay on task and get the often boring work done on time. Teachers can only do so much. When it comes to instilling good school habits at home, parents
1. Get organized: Create a system in your household for keeping track of all homework. There are a few ways to do this, but perhaps the best option is to have a homework notepad in a common area of your house such as the kitchen. When your child gets home from school, have him or her write all the day’s homework tasks. Later, cross them off when they’re completed. Or, if you think your child has the discipline, have him or her bring a special notepad to school to write down all homework assignments as they are given.
2. Use big-picture rewards: If you reward your child for every homework task completed or for each successful day of homework, this will send the message that homework is not a valuable activity in itself. So instead of giving many short-term rewards, reward your child for good grades at the end of the term.
3. Make it a family activity: Set a time every evening for each member of the household to settle down with some quiet, studious activity. (If one parent has other things to do, it is fine if only one parent is there.) Make sure the study area is without distractions, and settle down with a book or something of your own to study. Another benefit of this family study time is that you are immediately available if your child needs homework help.
4. Cultivate self-discipline: Early in your child’s homework life, you might have to take a heavier hand in getting him or her to sit down quietly and perform the work. As your child grows, however, try to back off a little bit. Instead of constantly reminding your child that homework time is approaching or that there are still homework tasks on the table, wait to see if he or she takes the initiative. If it does not seem like this is going to happen, then you can step in and exert parental authority.
5. Divide subjects: If you and your spouse are both available for homework help, divide up your child’s subjects. This way, you can each have your areas of expertise, and the help you provide will be better informed. If this is your strategy, make sure your child’s homework time occurs when both parents are usually available.
6. Know when to seek help: Parents cannot know everything, and there is a good chance you have forgotten much of what you learned during your own school days. If your child is struggling with a subject and you don’t feel you are qualified to provide the help he or she needs, be aware that there are plenty of options. Start by talking to your child’s teacher and school officials to see if there are any tutoring options available through the school. If not, you should be able to find many private tutoring services, plus many individuals willing to help. And you can always ask friends and family members who have expertise in relevant areas.
By Lisa Pecos