“Children need to know that their family members think homework is important. If they know their families care, children have a good reason to complete assignments and to turn them in on time. You can do many things to show that your child that you value education and homework.” — U.S. Department of Education
How exactly do you convey to your child that homework is important? Here are six tips to help your child with homework.
Tip #1: Set a Regular Time
Perhaps your best friend swears by having her child complete his homework assignments in the afternoon, before dinner time — and, if that works for her, that’s great. But maybe your children take music lessons or participate in a sports program right after school, so your children don’t do their homework until after dinner. The reality is that, if that schedule works for you and your children, then it’s the right schedule. What generally doesn’t work: waiting until just before bedtime when your child is tired and therefore rushes through homework and/or makes mistakes because of fatigue.
If you notice that your child hurries through homework to get back to playtime, you may need to set a minimum time that he or she must spend doing homework. If assignments get done before that time period elapses, perhaps he or she could study or read.
Tip #2: Pick a Place Without Distractions
Your child could do homework at her desk in her room — or use the dinner table. Again, whatever works! Make sure there is good lighting and keep that area reasonably quiet. Don’t allow the television to be turned on or permit phone calls (unless the call is for homework help). Some children do fine with quiet background music; others don’t.
Tip #3: Provide Appropriate Supplies and Resources
What’s needed will vary by age. Younger children may need scissors, paste and crayons – and then that will transition to pencils, paper, a dictionary and the like, and then to computer access and more. Keep the supplies organized in one place. If your child needs a computer for homework and you don’t have one, check with local libraries and/or ask your child’s teacher about homework centers that offer them.
Tip #4: Don’t Become Overinvolved
As Parents.com notes, homework is intended to help your child become an independent learner. So, while you need to be supportive of your child, providing necessary supplies and emphasizing the importance of homework, “You don’t need to be as involved as you might think.”
Tip #5: Monitor, But Don’t Correct
Continuing with tip #4, don’t turn your child’s homework into your project. A teacher quoted in Parents.com shares that he actually likes to see mistakes. Another expert suggests that your child be allowed to ask you three homework questions per night; beyond that, he or she should figure it out or circle the problem to discuss with the teacher the next day. When your child asks for help, offer to come over once you finish what you’re doing. By the time you arrive, he or she may have re-read the instructions or otherwise figured out the problem.
Tip #6: “Done with Parental Help”
The final tip comes from PBS.org. Sometimes, your child simply needs extra help from you. No matter how much effort he or she puts in, the assignment just doesn’t make sense to him or her. In that case, clearly indicate on the homework assignment or in a separate note that you provided additional assistance. This allows the teacher to know where your child needs more help.