Strategies for Helping your Children with their Homework
1. Understand that learning requires changes in both beliefs and behavior and sometimes produces a mild level of anxiety in many students.
2. Remember your own perceptions of homework as a student. Talk with your child about strategies that worked for you as well as why homework is important. This will help the student see how what they are learning is related to their personal life (and then homework will be meaningful to them).
3. Maintain high standards. Setting the groundwork now will make things a lot easier for you, the parent, years from now when homework is assigned on a more regular basis.
4. When talking about homework and establishing expectations with your child, discuss it in a positive light. Be energetic and enthusiastic and refrain from making comments such as, “If you would just sit down and work on it, you would be finished by now,” because such statements only affirm to the child’s beliefs that homework is undesirable or without purpose.
5. Don’t stand in front of the child to make sure he is working, and don’t lecture him. Instead, be “on call” so that if he has any questions you are available to help in any way you can.
6. When he is finished, look over his work and provide constructive feedback. Also, teach him how to check his own work for accuracy and completeness. Recognize both the student’s ability and effort.
7. Teach the student important organizational and study skills that will help them “learn to learn.” This might include: keeping an assignment sheet and checking it at the end of the day to determine which books to bring home, reducing distractions, getting all materials together before starting, studying for tests days in advance, and establishing a regular routine (which might include setting aside a specific time each day to work on homework, creating a “study place,” etc.).
8. Have the student estimate how long it will take to finish an assignment or section of an assignment. When the child sets his or her own goals, they are likely to be more motivated to work on the task at hand. Use a timer. Make sure, however, that they aren’t tempted to rush through it in order to “beat the buzzer.” Accuracy is just as important as efficiency!
9. Incentives and other rewards do not improve the student’s intrinsic motivation. They should be avoided, unless absolutely necessary.
10. Praise success!
11. Reduce competition. This may be done by emphasizing doing their “personal best.” If a “C” is their best, then great! If they get a “C” and could have done better, then have them re-work the problems they missed. In general, grades should be de-emphasized and learning the material should be the primary focus. In addition, try not to compare the child to other siblings. Different people learn in different ways and excel in different subjects.
12. Practice doing the same task in different ways. For example, write spelling words five times each, or have students spell out the words using Scrabble pieces or refrigerator magnets.
13. Teach mnemonic devices that ease recall of subject material.
14. Communicate regularly with your child’s classroom teacher (at least once per month) and call their homework hotline, if one is available.
15. Allow your child to take a break and come back as soon as they are ready. A general rule of thumb is to “Take five (minutes)” for every twenty minutes of study time. They must come back ready to work as soon as the five minutes is up or this strategy will not work.