Even kindergarteners have homework, so start them off with good study habits from the beginning. As they grow, the difficulty and amount of homework they have will increase, and the habits they develop as young students will contribute to their success throughout their school careers.
Rachel Rudman is a pediatric occupational therapist who encourages parents to pick a consistent homework time and stick to it. "Depending on the child," says Rudman, "that may be right after school, or they may need a break first." Kids thrive on routine. If they know what time they have to do homework, they're able to prepare themselves mentally.
Homework should be done in a quiet place -- at a bedroom desk or the kitchen table, for instance. Your child can help figure out the best spot.
"Be sure the desk or table surface is clear," says Rudman. Make everything your kids need to complete their homework readily accessible. You don't want to spend 10 valuable homework minutes searching for paper or pencils.
"During homework, there should be no TV, no texting, no computer," advises learning specialist Jill Lauren. Electronics interrupt and stretch out the homework process. "Kids benefit from learning when it's time to work and when it's time to play," says Lauren.
After a long day of school, children can become stressed by the homework looming over them. "The timing can seem indefinite to them," says Rudman. Angela Lin, creator of iWantHighMarks.com, says kids dread the idea of doing homework for long periods without rest and recommends five- to 10-minute "power breaks." Rudman suggests using a kitchen timer to keep track of time.
"During homework, provide your child with a crunchy snack," suggests Rudman. "Eating something crunchy like carrot sticks or pretzel rods helps with organization." But use care: You don't want your child's books or papers to get soiled!
Homework helps your child work independently, so don't hover, interrupt or offer too much input. "Encourage, praise and support, but do not complete any work," says Amy Hilbrich Davis of InspiringMoms.com. "There is important growth associated with the process of understanding, attempting, asking questions and completing the work."
Mom Lelaine P uses homework time to do her own assignments. "They do their schoolwork while I do mine," says Lelaine, "such as writing thank-you notes, paying bills, planning meals and functions, or reading."
Help your child create a homework notebook in which she jots down all her assignments during the school day. Review the notebook as soon as she comes home. With a homework log, big assignments such as reports and projects won't come as a surprise.
More tips for homework success >>
The simple question, "Have you done your homework?" can lead to tears, tantrums and tirades. But homework time doesn't have to turn your home into a battlefield.
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