Helpful Homework Tips and Tricks
Article by Leah Orchinik, PhD, is a pediatric psychologist at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.
The school year is well underway, and many students are facing nightly homework assignments. With after-school activities and other commitments, getting it all done can be stressful. Here are some tips to make getting homework get done stress-free and manageable for everyone.
Set up a Routine and Good Space
Whether your child likes to take a break after school before starting homework or wants to get right to work and have downtime later, try to stick to the same daily routine. Make sure your child works in an organized, quiet space that’s free from electronics or noisy family activities that can be distracting.
Helping your kids plan and organize their homework is a great way to be involved without actually doing the work for them. If they have questions, help them figure out how to look for solutions. Some kids like to start with easy tasks first, while others prefer to get tougher assignments out of the way. Let kids have a choice in the order they want to work on tasks. If they are older and can read well, try helping them use an agenda book or planner to map out the assignments.
Know your child’s attention span. For kids who have a lot of homework or during longer projects, develop a plan that involves taking short breaks after completing a section or task. Aim for quick, active breaks that can end naturally after a few minutes, such as getting a drink or playing with a pet. Avoid activities that can lead to arguments when break time is over, such as starting up a videogame or TV show. You may consider setting a timer to help kids know when breaks start and end!
Use Incentives If Needed
For children who drag their feet when it comes to homework, try a homework contract. This helps to clearly outline expectations and what your child needs to do to earn incentives as well as what your role will be. Parents are sometimes hesitant to give rewards for activities that children are required to do, but these incentives can help establish habits that they are more likely to follow later on (without rewards). Don’t forget to praise your child for their work. Focus on the effort they’re showing rather than how many items they got right or wrong.
Keep Open Communication
From time to time, try to communicate with your child’s teacher about expectations and ask for feedback on your child’s progress. But don’t worry about checking every single homework assignment or talking with the teacher constantly; research shows this doesn’t significantly improve kids’ achievement anyway.
Homework might not be anyone’s favorite part of school, but by setting up good habits, empowering your kids to make choices around homework routines, and staying calm, you can minimize frustration for the whole family.
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