Helping Children With Homework

by BrookeVanBeek

Nearly every student has homework each week. How can parents help their children make the most of homework time?

The school year has just started here in Australia and it won’t be long before the homework starts pouring in. For high school students, they likely already have a set of assignments due. Primary school students will be getting homework too, as most schools have made it compulsory.
Here are some basic things you can do at home to help your children get their homework done with as little pain and frustration as possible.

A Quiet Place to Study

Set up a peaceful work space within your home.

Kids need a designated place at home where they can complete their homework.  It should have a chair and a desk, be well lit and devoid of media, like televisions, radios or music listening devices.  It can be a good time for the rest of the house to be quiet as well—imagine how distracting it would be to hear the rest of the house laughing and playing around while you are trying to get some work done!

Many schools now give laptops to each students.  If your child uses a laptop to complete their homework, this will change where you allow them to work.  Make homework time in the kitchen where you can keep an eye on the computer--even the best behaved child can be quickly lured to social networking sites or sucked into checking email.  Be present to keep them focused.

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Get a Homework Diary

Having a place to record homework can eliminate the "I forgot" problem.

Some schools give out homework planners to each student at the start of the school year.  That way, your child has a place to write in their homework each day and you can see what assignments they have as well.  Take a look at the diary each day and see what assignments are coming up.  Help your child spread their work out so they only need to complete a few tasks each day.

For older students, an erasable wall calendar can be useful—it goes on the wall in their study area making it easier to see due dates at a glance.  Again, use the calendar to help them organize their time.

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Let Them Do It, Not You

It's hard to back off, but your child won't get much out of homework if you complete it!

For kids to get the most out of their homework, they need to complete it.  It is pointless if Mom and Dad do the work for many reasons:

  • If the assignment is due and your child has left it to the last minute, and now needs extensive help to finish, they will miss the lesson of time management.  Let them hand it in late and handle the consequences—they will probably never do it again. 
  • If the work is too hard and you child is sincerely unable to do it, leave the work and feed back to the teacher that your child was struggling with the task to such an extent that they were unable to complete it.  Then the teacher knows that your child might need more assistance in class developing specific skills. 

As well, it is unfair and unrealistic for schools to expect that parents can sit with each child, each night and pour over hours of homework.  Homework should be designed so that students can complete with little to no help from parents.  Besides, parents have enough responsibilities at home without adding hours of homework.

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Don't Sweat It!

There is no need to get into fights over homework--you have better things to do with your evenings.

The benefits of homework are questionable at best.  Family time, sports, music lessons and other extra-curricular activities are also important to the development of a well-rounded individual.  Make time for these activities as well.  If your child seems to have an extensive amount of homework that is negatively interfering with your family life, check your child's homework diary and see if you can help them manage their time more efficiently.  Also, let the teacher or school know.  Perhaps there has been a miscommunication somewhere and the homework levels can be reduced to a more manageable level. 

Homework should be a simple way to reinforce learning and keep your child's skills refreshed.  It should not be an all-consuming, stressful and conflict-ridden event--if it is, something isn't right, so check with your school.

Updated: 02/22/2013, BrookeVanBeek
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