Of course, helping with homework shouldn’t mean spending hours hunched over a desk. You can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging your kids to take a break.
Here are some tips to guide the way:
- Know the teachers — and what they’re looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child’s teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
- Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure your child has a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies, such as paper, pencils, glue and 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 15-minute breaks 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. You can make suggestions and help with directions, but it’s your child’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.
- If your child continues to have 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.
© 2012. Article adapted from The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth®. Used under license.