Article at a Glance
When we were kids, we couldn’t wait until we were older and didn’t have to do homework anymore. We were so wrong. Now we have to help our kids do their homework—which is usually even harder!
But for all our whining, homework is important. It teaches responsibility, time management, and reinforces learning outside of the classroom. In fact, doing a little homework over the summer has been shown to help prevent what is called the “summer brain drain.”
So how do we make homework a positive experience?
Help your kids find a place where they feel comfortable doing their homework. It might be at the kitchen table where they can ask you questions or in the quiet of their room. Make sure the area is comfortable, well lit, and free from distractions. Make sure any needed supplies are handy.
Kids are using the computer more and more for homework. But the computer can also be a huge distraction. Make sure you set up the computer where computer use can be easily monitored. Parental controls are also a good way to make sure that your children aren’t accessing inappropriate content on the Internet.
Make homework a routine. Set limits and stick to them. Instead of fighting with your children about whether they have to do homework, calmly inform them that there will be no TV, video games, or friends over until they do.
When doing homework your children are not only practicing skills learned in the classroom, but they are also learning other important skills. Through homework, kids can learn things like study strategies, organizational skills, how to prioritize, working with others, and how to follow through. These are skills that they will need help with, just like learning how to do math. Sit down and help them strategize about the best way to tackle assignments and study for tests. With time, these skills will make it easier and easier for them to do their homework.
Helping your children with their homework can often be challenging. You need to be there to help interpret instructions, answer questions, and check things over, but you can’t just do it for them—even though it would definitely be faster and easier! Children need to know that you are there to help, but that you expect them to do the work themselves.
Helping often means more than just helping answer questions. Your child might need a positive pep talk, praise, some perspective on why homework is important, or help knowing when it is okay to take a quick break. Or if your child is struggling, you might need to coach them on how to ask for additional help at school.
Staying in contact with your child’s teacher is another important part of being there. Knowing how your child is doing in school will allow you to help your child before the report card hits. It will also help you stay on top of what homework is being sent home and when things are due.
Looking at the Positive
It is amazing how much attitude can make a difference. If both you and your child look at homework as a long and dreary fight, chances are that it will be a long and dreary fight. Changing your attitude is often the first step to changing your child’s. Teach your child how to make learning enjoyable. Praise your children for their work, even when they are struggling with a subject. Focus on their effort, not just their grades. Show them how to reward themselves for a job well done and how to feel the satisfaction and pride that comes with hard work. Some day, when school is over, these are the skills that will help them develop a lifelong love of learning.