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4 Ways to Make Homework Easier
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Homework can seem overwhelming at times, especially in high school. One of the biggest challenges of being a high school student is learning how you work best — and this can look a little different for everyone.
Luckily, you can try many different strategies to find what works best for you.
1. Create a Homework Plan
Understand the assignment. Write it down wherever you keep track of your assignments, such as a notebook or an app on your phone. Don't be afraid to ask questions about what's expected. It's much easier to ask the teacher during or after class than to struggle to remember later that night. Consider asking your teachers how long they expect specific assignments to take.
Start as soon as you can. Use any free periods during your school day to start your homework. If you don’t have any free periods, take a few minutes to look at all your assignments during school so you have a chance to ask questions before you go home.
Budget your time. It’s normal for students to have a few hours of homework a night. If it's a heavy homework day, you'll need to devote more time to it. Try to come up with a homework schedule, especially if you're involved in extracurriculars or have an after-school job.
2. Find a Good Place to Work
When you settle down to study or do homework, where do you do it? Parked in front of the TV? In the kitchen, with other family members distracting you? Maybe these places worked when you were younger and homework was simpler, but your homework is probably more complicated now.
Find a place to focus. You'll do best if you can find a place to get away from distractions, like a bedroom or study. If your house is noisy no matter where you go, try searching online for study music, anything you find relaxing or inspiring. This can help drown out noise in your environment — just be mindful of the volume so you don’t hurt your ears.
Make sure you feel comfortable. Sit at a desk or table that’s comfortable, or try spreading out on the floor. It’s usually best to avoid your bed because you might get sleepy or have trouble sleeping later on. As long as you find a spot where you feel comfortable (and not tired), you’ll be able to focus.
3. Get to Work
Get in the right mood. If you start working while you feel stressed out, anxious, or otherwise in a bad mood, you may not get much done. Try practicing a mindfulness or breathing exercise before getting started, even just for a few minutes. These will help you focus better.
Decide where to start. Some people like to start with the easy assignments to get them out of the way, while others prefer to tackle the more challenging assignments first. Consider which strategy will work better for you. Try both and see if you notice a difference.
Keep moving. If you get stuck, try to figure out the problem, but don't spend too much time on it because you need time for your other assignments. If you need to, ask someone for help, like an adult or sibling. You could also text a classmate — just do your best to stay on topic.
Take breaks. Most people have short attention spans. Sitting for too long without stretching or relaxing will make you less productive than if you stop every so often. Taking a 15-minute break every hour is a good idea for most people. (If you're really concentrating, wait until it's a good time to stop.)
4. Get Help When You Need It
Even when you pay attention in class, study for tests, and do your homework, some subjects may still seem too hard. Don’t be afraid to ask for homework help — from teachers, counselors, friends, or family members. They'll respect your honesty and most are happy to help.
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9 Smart Tips for Homework Success
Help kids manage their homework load with these strategies..
Even children who enjoy doing homework can lose their enthusiasm for it over the course of the school year, and find ways to stall or avoid doing it. But after-school study time is important, both for reinforcing the day’s learning and for lending structure to your child’s day.
“Homework isn’t just about academics,” says Karen Burke, SVP of Data Analysis and Academic Planning, Scholastic Education Solutions. “It can help students create routines and build responsible behaviors.”
Playing cop rarely works — micromanaging and nagging only make kids feel incapable or frustrated. Instead, think of yourself as a coach and cheerleader.
“Generally, the idea of homework should be to help students set goals, build independence, and practice applying the knowledge they are gaining,” says Burke.
To help you get there, we asked teachers and parents to share their strategies for solving the most common homework struggles. These 10 tips will bring harmony back into your homework routine, whether your child is a kindergartner or 5th grader, perfectionist or procrastinator.
1. Do It Early
Give your child a time frame in which to get down to business. In your household, this may be before or after extracurriculars.
Work with your child to identify the time when their energy and focus are at their peak. This gives your child some control over their schedule. (Some kids need a longer break after school, and others need to start right away to keep the momentum going.)
However, plan on 5 p.m. being the latest they can start their homework.
2. Phone a Friend
From kindergarten onward, kids should have a list of three or four classmates they can call on when they forget an assignment, or even just to ask a question. Study buddies can provide motivation for each other to get the work done.
3. Collaborate to Build Confidence
When kids don’t understand a concept right away, they may feel like they’re not smart enough and start to shut down, says Sigrid Grace, a 2nd grade teacher in Michigan.
Short-circuit negative thinking by sitting down with your child and figuring out the first problem in the assignment together. This should help jog their memory to complete the rest. Then, heap on the praise: “You did a great job on that one! Try the next one now.”
4. Change the Scenery
Sometimes something as simple as changing up their workspace can boost a child’s motivation and, in turn, their confidence. If your child has been working alone at a desk or designated study nook, perhaps they’d be more comfortable doing their homework in a public area, like the kitchen table while you’re preparing dinner.
Conversely, if they’ve been working in a high-traffic part of the house, they might need a more private space in which to focus.
5. Keep the Positive Feedback Coming
Younger kids need instant feedback, so it’s okay for parents of young grade-schoolers to correct mistakes, says Grace, the 2nd grade teacher. Follow this up with specific praise about what your child has done well.
6. Leave the Room
“Kids who drag things out are often doing so for your attention — they’re enjoying the interaction on some level,” explains Grace. “Avoid joining in.”
If you must stay in the room, have your child work in a spot that’s farther away from whatever you’re doing.
7. Beat the Clock
Sometimes procrastinators just need a jump-start. If that’s true for your child, try this:
Set a timer for five minutes and have your child work as quickly and steadily as they can until the timer goes off. At that point, they can choose to take a short break or keep going — many kids continue.
“Racing against a timer gives kids an external sense of urgency if they don’t have an internal one,” says Ann Dolin, a former educator.
However, a timed work session is not an excuse for sloppy work. Make sure your child reviews theirs before submitting it.
8. Plan, Plan, Plan
To get the most out of your days, include every appointment — from sports practice to meals to reading time — on a big calendar or schedule log and stick it in a central place where every member of the household can see it.
If you know that certain nights present a conflict with your child’s homework schedule, you can ask for the week’s assignments upfront and work with your child to decide the best times to complete them, says Cathy Vatterott, a professor of education at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.
“Teachers will often work with you on this, but most parents are afraid to ask,” she says.
9. Let ’Em Vent
If your child is resisting doing their homework — or worse, is tearing up over it in frustration — soothe any pent-up worries by letting them complain. Listen, empathize (“Wow, that is a lot of work”), and state their feelings back to them (“You sound upset”).
Once your child feels understood, they’ll be more likely to accept your suggestions, says Dolin — and better able to focus on what needs to be done.
You can also help by talking to your child about what they remember from class and steering them to the textbook. If they’re still lost, have them write a note to the teacher explaining that they don’t understand.
Get ready for your child to go back to school with our guide — it's full of recommended books, tips to help if your child is struggling with homework , and more resources for starting the year off right .
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Five tips for homework
Is your child struggling to get their homework done? There are so many ways to help your child out at homework, from creating a good study environment to helping them manage stress from school.
1. Set up a homework-friendly area.
Setting up a quiet space really helps children focus on their homework. Having a designated area to study can also create a fun environment and motivate your child to get homework done. Choose a spot that has comfortable seating, away from noise and with good lighting.
2. Schedule a regular study time
Some kids prefer studying during the afternoon and others might prefer to wait until after dinner. Depending on your child’s learning styles, parents can be involved in their children’s homework sessions by helping them draw up a homework schedule or timetable.
3. Eliminate all distractions
Unfortunately, distractions are everywhere – especially with the rise of tech and social media; some schools teach kids using computers and tablets. As a parent, start by establishing some boundaries around study time and to respect the time allocated to just do homework. Distractions can lead to procrastination. Avoid switching the TV on, loud music or phone calls.
4. Start with the hardest work first
Sometimes, you’ll come to realise that kids have more than one assignment to do and it’s always a good idea to start on the hard tasks first. Although, your child might find it hard to keep their mind on the assignment but once it’s out of the way, they’ll feel a lot better and might be able to do the rest with ease.
5. Take breaks
It’s always healthy for a child to take short breaks in between completing an assessment. The best way to go around this is for kids to take regular and short study breaks, because their minds can start to wander when they get bored. Don’t pressure your child into studying too much and know when to give them a break.
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Homework Tips for Parents
Homework is important, but helping your child with homework isn’t always easy. Here are some ways you can make homework easier for everyone!
Study the same things in different ways and places
Help your child learn about new words or content in a variety of ways. Talk about new vocabulary words several times over the course of the week, in different settings. This will help enrich your child’s understanding of the word.
Mix up the study time
If your child prefers to do a little math, a little reading, a little word study and then back to math, that’s okay! Mixing up the practice time may leave a greater impression on your learner.
Space out the learning
If your child has a big test coming up next week, help her study a little bit each day rather than cramming it in the night before. An hour or so every other day, spacing out the learning, is a better way to really learn the material.
Help your child get organized
Help your child pick out a special homework notebook or folder, and make sure your child has homework supplies, such as:
- writing paper
- a dictionary
Show your child that you think homework is important
Ask your child about her homework each day, and check to see that it is completed. Tell your child that you are proud of the work she is doing.
Help your child without doing the homework
It’s important to answer questions if you can — but remember that homework is supposed to help children learn and that doing your child’s homework does not help in the long run.
Talk with your child’s teacher
Find out what the teacher’s homework rules are. If your child has a problem completing or understanding homework, call or e-mail the teacher to talk about the issue.
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Homework without tears: 12 homework tips for parents.
Summer is over and schools are in session which means families are getting back into weeknight routines and dusting off their homework skills.
Luckily those negative aspects are preventable by making homework an important priority for your family and trying out these 12 helpful homework tips:
1. Limit Distractions. Create a homework zone for your students that is away from the T.V. and other places where there could be distractions such as pets, people coming and going and loud noises.
2. Provide Tools. Make sure the materials your student may need are readily available. It’s helpful to have a stash of pencils, pens, a dictionary, etc. available. Check in regularly and make sure that any special materials needed for class projects are provided so their work won’t be disturbed.
3. Help Manage Time. Establish a set time for doing homework. Don’t wait until just before bedtime to do homework when students are tired and easily distracted. Think about using a weekend morning or afternoon for working on big projects, especially if the project involves getting together with other classmates.
4. Be Positive. The attitude you express toward homework will be the same attitude your child acquires. Make it a habit to tell your child that the work they’re doing is important.
5. Do YOUR Homework Too. Show that the skills they’re learning are related to things you also do as an adult. If your student is reading, you could be reading too. If your student is practicing math, you could balance your checkbook.
6. Teach Don’t Tell. It’s important that when asked for help you give guidance but not answers, that way your student learns the material and concepts. Remember that a lot can be learned from struggle and that too much help can teach your child that when the going gets rough, someone will do the work for them.
7. Cooperate. Teachers will often ask that you play a role in your child’s homework. Make sure you’re being an advocate for the teacher and follow their direction so you can show that school and home are a team.
8. Foster Independence. Some homework is really intended for students to do alone. Homework is a great way for kids to develop independence and accountability for lifelong learning skills.
9. Communicate. Make sure you talk to your child’s teacher and understand the purpose of homework and what the class rules are.
10. Build Metacognitive Skills. Help your child decide what homework is hard and what is easy, then encourage them to work on the hard stuff first so they’re most alert for challenging work.
11. Set Break Time. Watch your child for signs of failure and frustration. Let your child take a short break if they’re is having trouble keeping their mind on the assignment. Build perseverance but set time limits to avoid burnout.
12. Reward Progress and Effort. When your child has been successful and is working hard, celebrate success with a special event to reinforce positive effort.
How Much is Really Enough?
These numbers are estimates and the actual time doing homework at night can vary with each child’s motivation and interest level.
- K-2: 10-20 Minutes
- 3-6: 30-60 Minutes
- Mid/High School: 60 Minutes,but varies greatly based on class load
Different Types of Homework
Not all homework is equal! It’s important to know the type of homework your child’s teacher has assigned and what their homework policy is. Here are four examples of homework you might see this year:
1. Practice Homework. Just like it sounds, this type of homework is designed to help your student learn and remember key concepts taught in the classroom.
2. Preparation Homework. This homework consists of material that hasn’t been taught in the classroom just yet, so these assignments are designed to introduce your child to the content that will help them acquire concepts taught later on in class.
3. Extension Homework. Students are asked to apply their skills to other content or a special project in this homework style that is usually assigned over a period of time.
4. Integration Homework. This homework is similar to extension, but often results in a class presentation or event like a science fair.
Helpful Websites for Parents
Many of us go to the internet when we want to help our students with homework or to play educational games, but with so many websites to choose from it can be difficult to identify the most high-quality resources. Here are few resources you and your student can use at home:
- Calculation Nation - This site was developed by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and uses interactive games organized around upper elementary and middle grades math curriculum. Students will need to establish an account to play online with games that promote learning and practice with fractions, factors, multiples, and more.
- The California Math Council - This resource offers a section dedicated to free math education articles and activities for students from pre-K through high school.
- Thinkfinity - Thousands of math focused resources have been screened by educators to ensure accurate content and up-to-date information is made available for students. Resources are even grouped by grade and subject area to make finding resources simple!
- Figure This! - Primarily focused on middle school students, Figure This! provides math challenges for students and families.
- The Math Forum - This interactive site gives families the option to “ Ask Dr. Math ”, take on an internet math hunt or compete in one of the many weekly and monthly math challenges based on grade level.
- Illustrative Mathematics - Visit this site to find mathematical tasks that closely illustrate all of the Common Core Standards for each grade.
- Nat’l Library of Virtual Manipulatives - This site is home to hundreds of virtual manipulatives sorted by grade level and interactive tutorials that engage students in algebra, geometry, probability and measurement. Nat’l Library of Virtual Manipulatives promotes three key areas of mathematics: procedural skills, conceptual understanding and problem solving.
While the internet is a great place for students to find important resources for their homework assignments and motivation, not all sites are the same. It is imperative that children are taught internet safety and how to access quality resources. Ensure that your kids are responsible and safe with their internet usage!
Has your teacher assigned ST Math as homework? Read our Parent's Guide to ST Math at Home .
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Amber Orenstein was an education consultant for MIND in Colorado.
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10 Easy and Useful Homework Tips for Students
At the end of each day, your child is still stalling and not doing the homework. Why? We are not surprised to know that you too are in the same boat as many other parents whose kids make homework an intimidating task.
Most parents like to take on the role of a cop and make their kids sit at the edge of a gun to complete their homework. But sadly, this strategy fails big time in a matter of a few days. Hence, the idea is to compose yourself and help your child get their enthusiasm back and make their homework routine as seamless as possible.
If you are clueless about how to metamorphose your child from a procrastinator to a winner, then this post is for you. Let us begin with 10 smart and easy homework tips for students that will help them to perform better.
Here are the Tips For Students That Can Help Them to Finish Their Homework
10 Smart and Quick Homework Tips for Students
1. Make Homework a Priority of the Day
First things first, guide your child to do their homework as early as possible. Once your child is back home after a hectic day at school, let them relax/nap a bit, freshen up, and have their lunch. Once done, set priorities straight for them about doing their homework right on time and then starting with other activities.
You may consider setting a standard maximum time for your child, say 5 PM, as the latest time to start their homework. Explain to them that the sooner the homework is completed, the more time they have to spend on other activities throughout the day.
2. Make a List
Start by making a list comprising everything that needs to be done in the homework duration. From solving mathematical equations to revising the science lessons to practicing the French vocabulary, everything must be done in the duration that you have set for your child. Remember, it is only your determination that will help in building effective homework strategies for students.
3. Gather All the Supplies
If your child is a whiner or a procrastinator, you will often find them sharpening their pencils multiple times. Or you will watch them forget their eraser to the desk or some other thing. Hence, before sitting down to do the homework, ensure to gather all the books and gear that your little one would need to do their homework.
4. Unplug All the Gadgets
One of the most effective tips for getting homework done is to switch off all the gadgets. Unplug all the devices like your phones, tablets, TV, or laptops before sitting down to help your child with the homework. In fact, an ideal way is to leave all the gears in a different room and help your child focus on studies without any tech hindrance.
5. Estimate Time for Each Homework Task
Another tip for doing homework is to set an estimated time to do each homework task. Be realistic and let the student know the importance of time management. This can be a bit harsh on the child initially, however gradually you will see them performing exceptionally well and completing all the tasks on time with utmost ease.
6. Create a Call List
Applying these homework strategies for students is only possible if your child brings home the entire homework in their diary. What if your child often forgets what homework was assigned to him or her? Or he or she forgets to take note of it?
Well, in that case, as a parent, ensure to make a list of 3 to 4 classmates your child can call in case they forget an assignment. However, your child must also know that this strategy is only applicable sometimes and not always. As this could make your child dependable over other kids and careless about noting any homework assignment.
7. Develop Confidence
More than said than not, children are like flowers. When things don’t get something right, they often feel they are either not smart enough or lack confidence. This can trigger negative thoughts in them and make them shut down for a while. Therefore, as a parent, you need to look for ways to make homework fun and help them build confidence.
You may try complementing your child like, “Hey! You solved all the problems so quickly! Good job. Now let’s take on the next task and see you do that equally well.” This will boost their morale and help them work more efficiently and confidently.
8. Let the Positive Feedback Flow In
Another strategy for doing homework is to keep the positive feedback coming. Little students doing their best at work need compliments more often than we think. You may give them positive feedback and let them know that they are doing a good job and shall continue doing them.
You may use phrases like, “Ah! What beautiful handwriting.”, “Hey! You managed to get those spellings correct this time. Good job!”, “I see some new vocabulary being used, amazing. Why don’t you keep learning new words and use them? You are so good at it.”
Let’s not get too harsh on them for doing the homework quickly always. We aren’t that ruthless, are we? Give your child short breaks in between to help them recharge better and perform nicely. This is one homework tip that we forget but should keep in mind as the students have a lot to learn and retain in their minds. Little breaks in between do not hurt anyone.
10. Let Them Express
Your child might not be hitting the chord at times. The best idea is to let them vent and hear them out. As a parent, it is a paramount duty to listen to your child. You may start like, “You sound upset. Is there any way I can help you?”, “You seem to have a lot of homework and something doesn’t feel right.
Would you like to share?”, “You want me to help with your homework so that we can complete it on time?”. Such phrases may help your child feel understood and help them open up about their feelings. They might look out for your suggestions and may perform even better than thought.
It is essential to keep in mind that every child is different and they all have different needs. They may need your guidance to do a little of the tasks in life. Homework is one of them. Apparently, doing the homework is not just the responsibility of the parents and the students, but also the teachers.
The teachers must motivate the students instead of scaring them about the consequences of not doing them. A little motivation goes a long way for the kids.
Also Read: Importance of Secondary Education In India
Global Indian International School is a renowned secondary school that is staffed with the best educators who motivate the students at every step of their education. These teachers are highly skilled and experienced and make doing homework a cool breeze for the students. It is the best International School in Bangalore that caters to all the students' requirements.
FAQs on Homework
How can i make homework less stressful.
Start by making a list of all the tasks that need to be completed. Gather all the gears before sitting down. The earlier you complete your homework after reaching your home, the less stressed you will be for the rest of the day.
What Homework Should I Do First?
Each student likes to have a different approach. You may either start with your favorite subject to start the momentum right. Or you may start by doing the hardest subject first so that you can ease a bit by the end. It’s an individual choice. However, in both ways you get your homework done efficiently.
How Can I Do Homework Effectively?
Start your day with meditation, make a to-do list, drink plenty of water, and focus. Your focus and calm mind can help you do your homework effectively and easily.
How Do I Motivate Myself to Do Homework?
Set goals and start with your favorite subjects. Know what you like to do the best and this shall keep you motivated always.
Should I Do Homework Hardest to Easiest?
You may start with the hardest if you like so that you are motivated to complete the homework on time by the end.
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Kids are more successful in school when parents take an active interest in their homework — it shows kids that what they do is important.
Of course, helping with homework shouldn’t mean spending hours hunched over a desk. Parents can be supportive by demonstrating study and organization skills, explaining a tricky problem, or just encouraging kids to take a break. And who knows? Parents might even learn a thing or two!
Here are some tips to guide the way:
- Know the teachers — and what they’re looking for. Attend school events, such as parent-teacher conferences, to meet your child’s teachers. Ask about their homework policies and how you should be involved.
- Set up a homework-friendly area. Make sure kids have a well-lit place to complete homework. Keep supplies — paper, pencils, glue, scissors — within reach.
- Schedule a regular study time. Some kids work best in the afternoon, following a snack and play period; others may prefer to wait until after dinner.
- Help them make a plan. On heavy homework nights or when there’s an especially hefty assignment to tackle, encourage your child break up the work into manageable chunks. Create a work schedule for the night if necessary — and take time for a 15-minute break every hour, if possible.
- Keep distractions to a minimum. This means no TV, loud music, or phone calls. (Occasionally, though, a phone call to a classmate about an assignment can be helpful.)
- Make sure kids do their own work. They won’t learn if they don’t think for themselves and make their own mistakes. Parents can make suggestions and help with directions. But it’s a kid’s job to do the learning.
- Be a motivator and monitor. Ask about assignments, quizzes, and tests. Give encouragement, check completed homework, and make yourself available for questions and concerns.
- Set a good example. Do your kids ever see you diligently balancing your budget or reading a book? Kids are more likely to follow their parents’ examples than their advice.
- Praise their work and efforts. Post an aced test or art project on the refrigerator. Mention academic achievements to relatives.
- If there are continuing problems with homework, get help. Talk about it with your child’s teacher. Some kids have trouble seeing the board and may need glasses; others might need an evaluation for a learning problem or attention disorder.
- Reviewed By: Eric J. Gabor, JD
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Strategies to make homework go more smoothly.
Routines and incentive systems to help kids succeed
Writer: Peg Dawson, EdD, NCSP
Clinical Expert: Peg Dawson, EdD, NCSP
Here is the best guide to helping kids do homework successfully that we’ve seen, published by the National Association of School Psychologists on their website, NASPonline.org . Our thanks to NASP for sharing it with us.
There are two key strategies parents can draw on to reduce homework hassles. The first is to establish clear routines around homework, including when and where homework gets done and setting up daily schedules for homework. The second is to build in rewards or incentives to use with children for whom “good grades” is not a sufficient reward for doing homework.
Tasks are easiest to accomplish when tied to specific routines. By establishing daily routines for homework completion, you will not only make homework go more smoothly, but you will also be fostering a sense of order your child can apply to later life, including college and work.
Step 1. Find a location in the house where homework will be done. The right location will depend on your child and the culture of your family. Some children do best at a desk in their bedroom. It is a quiet location, away from the hubbub of family noise. Other children become too distracted by the things they keep in their bedroom and do better at a place removed from those distractions, like the dining room table. Some children need to work by themselves. Others need to have parents nearby to help keep them on task and to answer questions when problems arise. Ask your child where the best place is to work. Both you and your child need to discuss pros and cons of different settings to arrive at a mutually agreed upon location.
Step 2. Set up a homework center. Once you and your child have identified a location, fix it up as a home office/homework center. Make sure there is a clear workspace large enough to set out all the materials necessary for completing assignments. Outfit the homework center with the kinds of supplies your child is most likely to need, such as pencils, pens, colored markers, rulers, scissors, a dictionary and thesaurus, graph paper, construction paper, glue and cellophane tape, lined paper, a calculator, spell checker, and, depending on the age and needs of your child, a computer or laptop. If the homework center is a place that will be used for other things (such as the dining room table), then your child can keep the supplies in a portable crate or bin. If possible, the homework center should include a bulletin board that can hold a monthly calendar on which your child can keep track of longterm assignments. Allowing children some leeway in decorating the homework center can help them feel at home there, but you should be careful that it does not become too cluttered with distracting materials.
Step 3. Establish a homework time. Your child should get in the habit of doing homework at the same time every day. The time may vary depending on the individual child. Some children need a break right after school to get some exercise and have a snack. Others need to start homework while they are still in a school mode (i.e., right after school when there is still some momentum left from getting through the day). In general, it may be best to get homework done either before dinner or as early in the evening as the child can tolerate. The later it gets, the more tired the child becomes and the more slowly the homework gets done.
Step 4. Establish a daily homework schedule. In general, at least into middle school, the homework session should begin with your sitting down with your child and drawing up a homework schedule. You should review all the assignments and make sure your child understands them and has all the necessary materials. Ask your child to estimate how long it will take to complete each assignment. Then ask when each assignment will get started. If your child needs help with any assignment , then this should be determined at the beginning so that the start times can take into account parent availability. A Daily Homework Planner is included at the end of this handout and contains a place for identifying when breaks may be taken and what rewards may be earned.
Many children who are not motivated by the enjoyment of doing homework are motivated by the high grade they hope to earn as a result of doing a quality job. Thus, the grade is an incentive, motivating the child to do homework with care and in a timely manner. For children who are not motivated by grades, parents will need to look for other rewards to help them get through their nightly chores. Incentive systems fall into two categories: simple and elaborate.
Simple incentive systems. The simplest incentive system is reminding the child of a fun activity to do when homework is done. It may be a favorite television show, a chance to spend some time with a video or computer game, talking on the telephone or instant messaging, or playing a game with a parent. This system of withholding fun things until the drudgery is over is sometimes called Grandma’s Law because grandmothers often use it quite effectively (“First take out the trash, then you can have chocolate chip cookies.”). Having something to look forward to can be a powerful incentive to get the hard work done. When parents remind children of this as they sit down at their desks they may be able to spark the engine that drives the child to stick with the work until it is done.
Elaborate incentive systems. These involve more planning and more work on the part of parents but in some cases are necessary to address more significant homework problems. More complex incentives systems might include a structure for earning points that could be used to “purchase” privileges or rewards or a system that provides greater reward for accomplishing more difficult homework tasks. These systems work best when parents and children together develop them. Giving children input gives them a sense of control and ownership, making the system more likely to succeed. We have found that children are generally realistic in setting goals and deciding on rewards and penalties when they are involved in the decision-making process.
Building in breaks. These are good for the child who cannot quite make it to the end without a small reward en route. When creating the daily homework schedule, it may be useful with these children to identify when they will take their breaks. Some children prefer to take breaks at specific time intervals (every 15 minutes), while others do better when the breaks occur after they finish an activity. If you use this approach, you should discuss with your child how long the breaks will last and what will be done during the breaks (get a snack, call a friend, play one level on a video game). The Daily Homework Planner includes sections where breaks and end-of-homework rewards can be identified.
Building in choice. This can be an effective strategy for parents to use with children who resist homework. Choice can be incorporated into both the order in which the child agrees to complete assignments and the schedule they will follow to get the work done. Building in choice not only helps motivate children but can also reduce power struggles between parents and children.
Developing Incentive Systems
Step 1. Describe the problem behaviors. Parents and children decide which behaviors are causing problems at homework time. For some children putting homework off to the last minute is the problem; for others, it is forgetting materials or neglecting to write down assignments. Still others rush through their work and make careless mistakes, while others dawdle over assignments, taking hours to complete what should take only a few minutes. It is important to be as specific as possible when describing the problem behaviors. The problem behavior should be described as behaviors that can be seen or heard; for instance, complains about h omework or rushes through homework, making many mistakes are better descriptors than has a bad attitude or is lazy.
Step 2. Set a goal. Usually the goal relates directly to the problem behavior. For instance, if not writing down assignments is the problem, the goal might be: “Joe will write down his assignments in his assignment book for every class.”
Step 3. Decide on possible rewards and penalties. Homework incentive systems work best when children have a menu of rewards to choose from, since no single reward will be attractive for long. We recommend a point system in which points can be earned for the goal behaviors and traded in for the reward the child wants to earn. The bigger the reward, the more points the child will need to earn it. The menu should include both larger, more expensive rewards that may take a week or a month to earn and smaller, inexpensive rewards that can be earned daily. It may also be necessary to build penalties into the system. This is usually the loss of a privilege (such as the chance to watch a favorite TV show or the chance to talk on the telephone to a friend).
Once the system is up and running, and if you find your child is earning more penalties than rewards, then the program needs to be revised so that your child can be more successful. Usually when this kind of system fails, we think of it as a design failure rather than the failure of the child to respond to rewards. It may be a good idea if you are having difficulty designing a system that works to consult a specialist, such as a school psychologist or counselor, for assistance.
Step 4. Write a homework contract. The contract should say exactly what the child agrees to do and exactly what the parents’ roles and responsibilities will be. When the contract is in place, it should reduce some of the tension parents and kids often experience around homework. For instance, if part of the contract is that the child will earn a point for not complaining about homework, then if the child does complain, this should not be cause for a battle between parent and child: the child simply does not earn that point. Parents should also be sure to praise their children for following the contract. It will be important for parents to agree to a contract they can live with; that is, avoiding penalties they are either unable or unwilling to impose (e.g., if both parents work and are not at home, they cannot monitor whether a child is beginning homework right after school, so an alternative contract may need to be written).
We have found that it is a rare incentive system that works the first time. Parents should expect to try it out and redesign it to work the kinks out. Eventually, once the child is used to doing the behaviors specified in the contract, the contract can be rewritten to work on another problem behavior. Your child over time may be willing to drop the use of an incentive system altogether. This is often a long-term goal, however, and you should be ready to write a new contract if your child slips back to bad habits once a system is dropped.
Click here to download the homework planner and incentive sheet .
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20+ Homework Strategies for Parents
December 13, 2022 by pathway2success Leave a Comment
Homework can be a big source of frustration for kids and parents at home. Even more, it can be a challenge that carries over from home to school when the child doesn’t complete the work and is behind in class.
If your child is struggling with homework, read through these strategies and give some a try. As a note, not every single strategy is going to work for every child. To start, pick a few and give them a try. See what works and what doesn’t. Then, move forward together.
If you are an educator looking for strategies for kids, these can help you too. You might even want to pass them along to families to give strategies and support along the way.
Homework Strategies for Home:
Set up a binder organization system. First and foremost, it’s helpful to set your child up with a binder organization system that works for them. This might look different for different learners. One option is having one binder for every class/subject plus a dedicated homework binder. This is ideal for kids who are switching classes and have a good ability to keep track of different binders. In each binder, add a pocket folder and extra paper. In the homework binder, have your child add their homework agenda (read more about that below), a pencil pouch, and a pocket folder just for homework. If this system is too much, consider having one larger binder that contains a homework folder and all classes. You can separate the classes with dividers. While setting up a system most definitely takes time and planning, it helps keep things more orderly in the future.
Use a homework folder. A dedicated homework folder is key to making sure pages get brought home to finish and find their way back to the classroom to be turned in. Using a pocket folder, label one side of the folder “to do” and one side “done.” Explain that assignments that need to be completed, will go on the “to do” side, while pages that are finished will stay in “done.” It’s advisable to purchase a name brand folder to help make sure it lasts a bit longer and stays in the binder. Another tip is to go to the store with your child and let them choose the folder design. There are many different folders with everything from kittens to race cars. Letting the child choose the folder helps them be part of the organization process and might encourage a bit more buy-in. You can use this free homework binder template to get yourself started, or you can make your own!
Teach organization skills on an ongoing basis. Since a big part of completing homework is about organization, it’s important to teach and practice these skills often. Talk about where things should go in the house, take a 5-minute organization break when you need it, and model what organizing materials looks like. If your child struggles significantly with organization, consider reading up more on interventions for organization challenges .
Set up a homework spot. Choose one spot in the house where your child can productively accomplish work on a regular basis. This might be a downstairs office or just the kitchen table. Most importantly, aim to make it consistent and distraction-free.
Have kids use a homework log or agenda. A homework log or agenda is a dedicated place to write homework every day. Often, schools provide homework logs with spots for kids to write work down. If this works, great! Sometimes, though, one isn’t provided or the space might be too small for a child to write in. If that’s the case, you can make your own or use a journal. The key is to set it up so that your child has one spot to write homework down every single day.
Keep the homework area stocked and organized. Keep extra pencils, coloring utensils, and paper ready to go when your child needs it. Having materials organized and stocked will reduce time your child goes looking for it when they need it for an assignment.
Check over the homework log together. Before starting homework, spend a few minutes going over the homework log with your child. Ask them to show you and tell you what assignments they have to do tonight. This is also a great time for positive reinforcement when all homework assignments are clearly outlined, or constructive criticism when they are not. For example, you might say, “I noticed you wrote down ‘study’ under math. What do you think might be more helpful than that for next time?” Then, talk about how you could write down the chapters or topics to study. This homework log check also helps build accountability for your child.
Find alternative ways to check homework. Kids and teens aren’t always perfect about writing their assignments down. Check to see if your child’s teacher has a website where homework is listed. Bookmark the site and have your child use it when they forget to write assignments down. It’s important that it becomes their responsibility to check. If a teacher website isn’t an option, have a homework buddy from class that your child can touch base with. Again, this should be your child’s responsibility when possible. The idea is to teach your child that it is actually easier just to write it down correctly in class the first time!
Be a motivator. It’s no secret that homework isn’t often a favorite activity for kids and teens. Help make it easier by providing encouragement and support in a positive way. You can even start with practicing some positive self-talk and positive affirmations .
Use a timer. A timer can be a valuable tool to help set boundaries and allow breaks. Choose an amount of time that your child should be working, such as 20 minutes. Set the timer and make this a working time. Once the timer goes off, allow a 5 or 10 minute break before heading back to work. A visual timer can be especially helpful in this case because it shows kids and teens just how long they have left until they get their next break. Of course, a simple timer on the oven works, too.
Keep distractions away. We all know that kids and teens love their cell phones. The truth is that these devices are extremely distracting during working times. Make it an expectation that electronics stay away during homework time. Of course, it’s important to mention that this might be incredibly difficult for some kids at first. Work at it to make it a habit for the long-term.
Schedule breaks. It’s healthy to take breaks during long working sessions. Plan to take a break after each course assignment, or after a period of time. Of course, the number of breaks is going to vary greatly depending on your child.
Plan homework times. When it comes to homework, routine is a big part of the puzzle. Plan and schedule daily homework times when possible. Aim for shortly after your child gets home from school if that’s an option. This can allow a short break but still the time to finish the work they need to before dinner and night-time routines. Again, this is going to vary depending on every family situation, since parent work schedules and sports might interfere. If that’s the case, choose any time that works for you. It’s most important to stick with it so that it becomes a routine.
Model focused work. When it’s homework time, model what focused work looks like. While your child is working on assignments, read a book, do crossword puzzles, write in a journal, or complete some work of your own!
Build in choice. Give kids some say when it comes to homework! This will help them feel more empowered and independent. You can let them choose which assignment to start first or how they’d like to start a project. A little bit of choice can go a long way.
Create a homework checklist. Help your child create a daily checklist for homework each day. Encourage them to list out everything they need to accomplish on a piece of paper. Then, prioritize what is most important and start there. Have them check off each assignment on the checklist as they go. This can be done on paper or on a mini whiteboard.
Find a homework buddy. Make sure your child has a friend or classmate they can reach out to when they need homework support. This can be beneficial if they don’t know the assignment or have a question on a specific problem.
Be flexible. If your child wants to do homework a little bit differently than you would recommend, let them try. For example, maybe your child needs to spread out and work on the floor. Perhaps they might really do better while listening to music. These are all recommendations, strategies, and ideas, but remember that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Be open-minded and find what works for your child.
Recognize when something is taking too long. You know your child best. If he or she spending two hours on a homework assignment, consider taking a look at it together. Provide support and encourage strategies to help them move along. When nothing seems to work, you can also consider adding a note to the back of the page and sending an email to the teacher letting them know the challenges you encountered.
Check homework when finished. Depending on the needs of the child, it may be important to check over and review homework together. Not only it is important to check for completion, but for quality of work. If work isn’t done well, it is worth going back and having your child add or fix what they need to. Eventually, the goal is that they will learn that it’s just easier to do it right the first time!
Plan fun activities after homework. Family game time, watching a favorite show, or heading out for ice cream are all great ways to naturally reward being finished with work.
Develop a home incentive plan. If completing homework is continually a struggle and you suspect motivation is the culprit, consider an incentive or reward plan. Talk with your child about what they would like to earn, such as a movie night with friends or a weekend sleepover. Come up with the terms (such as homework completed every night for a week) and make it happen. The goal with an incentive plan is to develop positive habits and create independence.
Keep in touch with teachers. Remember to stay in contact with your child’s teachers. They are often a source of helpful tips and strategies, but they can’t provide that information if they don’t know your child is struggling. When talking to your child’s teacher about homework challenges, be specific about the difficulties you are seeing an open-minded to trying some strategies. Avoid the blame game. It’s always best when families work with schools on homework issues. If issues continue, do your best to document them and request a face-to-face meeting to discuss further and come up with ideas. Using actual homework samples might also be helpful.
Be a united front with teachers. Even if homework becomes a source of frustration, it’s helpful to remember to act as a united front with your child’s teachers. Certainly, it’s helpful to voice your concerns (and even frustrations) with your child’s teacher privately, but doing it in front of the child can send the wrong message. Again, working together always works best.
Remember to start with just a few strategies, give them a fair shot, and see where they take you. The goal is always that your child can complete the homework independently and feel successful. This may take time, practice, and changing up the strategies along the way, but homework success is possible!
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