Developing Good Homework Habits
January 31, 2011 ~
Students are being assigned more and more homework each year. While some teachers choose to dole out assignments at the end of class, others choose to hand out weekly or monthly calendars with specific due dates outlined over an extended period of time that your child must keep track of independently. Your child has probably experienced a sprinkling of each methodology, and both can be a little daunting and confusing. Here are some ways you can help your child manage his or her ever-expanding pile of homework. Ultimately, you want your child to develop a consistent and independent homework routine so that he or she is well prepared for the rigors of high school and beyond. Prioritize and Schedule Having enough time to complete homework is crucial to your child’s success. One of the most common reasons for poor grades is rushed work, where little mistakes can mean big problems over time. At the beginning of each month, sit down with your child and identify any assignments, such as book reports, essays or group projects, that stand out as projects requiring extra time and thought. Make sure to allot adequate time to guide your child through these assignments so that your child isn’t frantically trying to finish a large project at the last minute. As your child advances in school, remember to step back and allow your child to take control and manage his or her own time. It’s often painful to see your child struggle, but we all learn from our mistakes, and failure to prepare and give yourself adequate time for an assignment teaches children important life lessons. At the start of your child’s academic career, think of yourself as a project manager. For each important deadline, set aside time that will be dedicated to working on it. This will make sure that the end product is an example of your child’s best work. Breaking the work up into small chunks will also ease your child’s anxiety about large projects and teach him or her how to manage time efficiently. Poor time management often contributes to lack luster grades on specialty projects. Breaking down work into bite-sized portions will raise the quality of your child’s assignment, increase his or her confidence for the next big project and hone prioritization skills that can be applied to all aspects of life – at any age. Stay Ahead When Possible If your child completes his or her homework a little early one night, try encouraging him or her try and get ahead with a little extra reading or another math worksheet due the next night. In the beginning, it may be hard for your child to get in the habit of doing extra work, but once he or she feels the benefits of advanced preparation, you will see his or her attitude change. Children are not comfortable racing against a clock, so when they are no longer scrambling at the last minute to complete their work, their feelings about being proactive will inspire them to want to do more. These positive emotions will empower your child to go that extra mile more than being told, “Do this …” or, “Don’t forget this …” We understand that it’s not realistic to be ahead of the game all of the time, but whenever you see the chance for your child to get ahead with a little extra effort, encourage him or her to do so. Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Outside Help The older your child becomes, the more advanced, and oftentimes the more difficult, homework assignments will become. It may have been a long time since you last saw a scientific calculator or wrote an essay on Homer’s “Odyssey.” So if you find your eyes glazing over and your mind going blank when your child asks you for help with his or her homework, it may be time for you to look for additional support. Contact your child’s teacher and let him or her know your child is having some trouble with assignments at home. Then find out if the school your child attends has study groups for students to meet after school or during an off period. Talk with other parents and ask if their children are seeing a tutor or are enrolled in an enrichment program such as Kumon to get extra help. There are many options that can provide the assistance your child may require to fully understand and learn the material he or she is studying. If you feel your child will benefit from outside help, don’t be shy about seeking it out as soon as possible. Homework can contribute upwards of 50 percent to your child’s grade point average. Therefore, it is essential to your child’s performance that homework be treated as an important priority. These simple tips can help your child progress from passing to excelling.