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Homework Tips for Your Child

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Homework can be a daily struggle for many families.  Now that the first few weeks of school have passed, there likely has been an increase in the amount of schoolwork that your child is bringing home. We want our children to do well in school.  

Homework can be a daily battle for many families, particularly if your child is struggling with learning disabilities or ADHD. But homework can be potentially stressful for everyone..  Here are some helpful strategies.

Keep A Consistent Schedule

Your child will be better able to focus on work and be more productive and willing to do homework if there is a predictable schedule.  Children do well when they know when to expect work times.

Homework First Then Play

Having a system of doing homework and then having play or free time as a reward will be easier for both children and parents in the long run.  Children may need to have a snack and a break to talk to mom or dad before starting work.

Have A Designated Study Space

Your child will learn to settle down and focus on work better if he always does homework in the same place every day.  A good place to study will be free of distractions and have all needed supplies.  The kitchen table is a fine place to work if it is relatively quiet.  A caddy can be used to carry pencils, erasers, markers, and any other supplies.

Avoid Negotiations for Doing Homework

Children often just plain don’t want to stop playing and do their homework.  It is actually understandable!  None of us really want to work all day and then do more work at home.  However, as much as you can emphasize with this feeling and avoid any negotiations with your child.  Try not to offer any bribes.  State what you need the child to do and then do not respond to any whining or complaint behavior.  

Offer Appropriate Choices 

You can offer some choices such as what subject to do first or if you want quiet music in the background.  You may want to not offer some choices if you know it will make it harder to get work done.  However, letting your child have a say in doing homework may help her be more invested in her work.

Praise Any Positive Effort

We get better results with praise than corrections.  Try to praise any positive homework behaviors.  For example, you could say:

“I like how you are sticking with that problem, even though it is really tough.”

“Thank you for coming to the table to do your work.”

“Great job sounding out that word!”

“I love that even though it is hard to focus right now, you are still trying.”

Break Down Homework Assignments

Help your child break assignments into chunks.  Helping your child break work down will:

  •  Model how to tackle tough tasks
  •  Make the work seem less overwhelming
  • Help children who struggle with paying attention or doing the work due to learning issues, see an end in sight
  • Show your child that you care and want to help

Model How To Tackle Tough Tasks

Your child looks to you for how to behavior.  Talk to your child about how you handed big projects at work or home.  You can talk about how it looked really hard or big but you broke it down into steps or used self-talk to get through.  You can even talk about asking for help to get a project done.  Your child might not look like she is listening or taking it in, but she may be filing it away for later.

Avoid Over Correcting

Try to avoid correcting spelling and punctuation for children, especially in the lower grades, unless he asks for help.  If your child feels like she has to go back and correct every small error, she may feel very frustrated and want to quit.  You can leave correcting errors up to the teacher.   

Be Present To Help Your Child

Many parents expect their children to do their homework independently.  However, children benefit from parents being involved into middle school and even high school, for some students.  Parents can help students by teaching them how to organize their work and break it down into manageable parts.  Students can also benefit from parents showing them ways to study effectively such as by using flashcards and reviewing materials often.

Use Homework As An Indicator Of Your Student’s Learning

Being involved with your child as she does homework allows you to observe how she is doing with school work.  For example, your child may need you to help with tough problems but shouldn’t rely on you to “teach” the materials all the time.  If it seems like your child really doesn’t understand the information in homework, it might be a good idea to check in with her teacher.  You may want to have an independent evaluation for your child to assess for any learning difficulties and/or ADHD, if it seems like your child is always struggling with school work.

Sleep, Good Nutrition, and Family Time Are Important!

Children and teens struggling to keep up with extracurricular activities and complete homework can lose out on family meals, sleep hours, and having fun with their friends and families.  However, sleep and time with family are important for overall health and development as well as academic performance.  Lack of sleep can make if harder for children to focus in school, make positive choices, and experience a happy mood.  Lack of sleep can also increase feelings of depression and anxiety.  Family meals and time together are very important as well.  Research has shown that family meals have many benefits for children including lowered obesity, improved academic performance, and alcohol use. 

Communicate Concerns

If you have any concerns regarding your child’s homework, reach out to his teacher to ask questions and communicate your feelings.  If you feel that the homework assigned is interfering with your child’s overall well-being, ask the teacher if you can explore other options such as reduced work load or changing deadlines such as having time on the weekend to work on assignments.  

If you feel that your child is struggling with doing school work or feeling very anxious about school, you may want to speak to a child therapist.  Hope Springs Behavioral Consultants provides neuropsychology evaluations and therapy for children, teens, and adults. 

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