“I need help with my homework!” is likely a phrase you will be hearing soon. Be proactive and set up your homework routine now. The following suggestions may help improve your method and make homework completion a smooth process. It also supports executive functioning skills and independence.
- Set a time: Pick a time and stick with it. But remember, school is taxing and requires significant attention and energy, especially for children who struggle with language, social situations, remaining focused, etc., so allow your child some down time first.
- Pick a place: Chose a place free from distraction and noise. The kitchen table is frequently a study zone, but if dinner is being made simultaneously you may want to reconsider. With pots clanging and movement during meal preparation, this area can feel like a beehive, not a study zone. Opt for a quiet corner with a small table or desk.
- Get organized: Support your child’s organization by creating a homework checklist, or use materials being sent from school, to assure all assignments are accounted for. A small calendar or planner can be a great visual for your child to track due dates. Also consider a simple filing system for your child’s papers. For example, “to do”, “completed”, and “show parents”. That way as the backpack is unloaded no assignment or permission slip goes unaccounted for.
- Make it rewarding: For many children, verbal praise and validation of their effort are the best rewards you can offer. Setting a goal with an incentive can also make the process more rewarding. Example: When you master division, I will let you have a sleep over. Also, consider immediate reinforcement if necessary, such as a short break involving a preferred activity like using an ipad.
- No homework: A free night is a great reward for effort but can also make nights without homework more challenging. Use your set “study time” for homework or free reading, keeping the block of time consistent from day to day. This can include assigned reading, library books, audio books, or even magazines. Keep reading fun! This will also provide balance between siblings at different ages who may or may not have homework each night.
- Apply new knowledge: Frequently children lose interest in academics because it is challenging and they don’t see the importance. Try to help your child connect what he or she is learning to everyday situations. Ex. learning fractions=do a cooking activity, spelling words=point out every time you hear or see the word, learning presidents=look at money
- Find a tutor: Is too much tension around homework impacting your relationship with your child? Perhaps a neural 3rd party can assist. Think about other available individuals who interact well with your child. Perhaps a sibling, an older child in your neighborhood, or a retired adult would be willing to provide some support and mentoring a few days a week for little or no cost.