It’s an American ritual, optimistic and comforting: gathering supplies as a new school year begins. But what’s most important is your support as a helpful and supportive parent — particularly when it comes to homework. Help your child succeed with these tried-and-true tips.
1. Make a plan
Children perform better when they know the expectations. Discuss where you and your child agree she should be by the end of the school year (or other age-appropriate interval). Hold her accountable for making her best effort to reach those goals.
A strategy to do this: Set one to three goals that your child will present to you at the end of the year. Pick a date and a few weeks beforehand, have her work on a self-evaluation presentation to be presented during this at-home student conference. You may be astonished by what you see!
2. When possible, provide the necessary materials
When possible, provide basic supplies like lined, unlined and graphing paper; blue, black and red pens; pencils; colored pencils; pencil sharpener; highlighters; scissors; stapler; tape; and a ruler. Have these conveniently available so there’s no excuse to not get the work done.
An expanded list of materials includes index cards, a glue stick, file folders, art supplies, math manipulatives (number blocks, etc.), multicolor sticky notes (I’m always amazed just how much my students love them!), a timer and a stress ball.
3. Location, location, location
For nearly all students, have a consistent place to do homework makes the whole process easier. The designated study spot should be comfortable, distraction-free and appealing to your child. Don't worry if if it's unconventional. Is your student sitting upside down, head dangling over the edge of the couch as he reads his chapter book? Awesome. Work is being done.
4. Timing matters (but not that much)
Set a time for doing homework but don’t worry if it’s long after school ends. Ideally, a student has a 30-minutes separation from the end of the school day but doesn’t start homework so late as to impact healthy sleep schedules. The important parts are regularity and predictability.
5. Catch those Zs
Getting your child to bed on time may be the most valuable thing you do for their education. One 2005 study found that students whose sleep was disrupted for just 1 week began receiving notices from teachers informing parents of poor behavior and poor academic performance. Recommended amounts vary but at least 10 hours of sleep is best for 3- to 12-year-olds.
6. Practice healthy study habits
Set patterns that keep your little one from wilting. Have her take a short break after 30 minutes of focused effort. A good rule of thumb: Homework should last no more than 15 minutes per grade level (i.e. 45 minutes in third grade).
There’s a lot of debate about homework among educators about the diminishing returns of “drill and kill” exercises and general overload. Should an assignment prove hard to decipher, a quick email to the teacher will often fix the problem or at least be an appreciated warning that there were difficulties. And if your child is in fourth grade or higher, have her write the message!
Originally published by Bright Pathways