Does having your child get her homework done resemble Congress trying to get their work done? Do you feel like it is you in one corner and Rocky Balboa in the other, when it comes to getting your child to do his homework? Leslie Garisto Pfaff from “Parents “ magazine offers five tips to help your child with their homework habits in her article “Five Steps to Homework Success.”
Teach consistency: Instill a homework routine with your child. Barring afterschool activities, homework should be done at the same time every day, according to Jeannine Schay Schumm, PhD, author of How to Help Your Child With Homework. Otherwise, it is too easy to put off and not get it done. She says to base this on your child’s temperament and your family’s schedule. Some children need decompression time and some physical activity before they can hit the books again. Other children might need to do it right away, while they are still partially in school mode and perhaps before, gymnastics or karate. After such activities, homework can easily be karate chopped for certain children. With a consistent time, comes a need for a consistent space. Particularly in the younger grades in elementary school, that might be a quiet space at the kitchen table or dining room table as opposed to upstairs in their bedroom. As a parent, you want to be accessible and able to monitor their progress with their work. Also keep supplies close by to ward off the great school supply search and procrastination. Plenty of room to work, with supplies at hand, makes for a comfortable and equipped work space.
Dial down distractions: Make it a rule that the television, cell phones, computers, video games, and other distractions are minimized, even better off, to maximize focus and the quality of work being done. If possible, make a certain time in the house homework time for all, including parents. By this, parents can be quietly present reading, bill-paying, folding laundry, doing paperwork, etc, modeling how to work in a quiet environment and monitoring for disruption. Older siblings can be modeling for younger siblings how to do work in such a fashion and greatly help younger children instill good homework habits.
Aim for Independence: While it may be tempting to correct your children’s mistakes while doing homework, please remember the point of homework. It is practice and one way in which your child’s teacher gages their progress. While grade school aged children will likely need some assistance with their work, it is helpful to discuss with your child’s teacher how much assistance they are looking for you to give. Having said this, it never hurts to review your child’s work and to encourage them to independently find the three words or math problems that have mistakes. This teaches them to review their work and puts the onus on them to find them. Additionally, you can use these moments to guide them to use a dictionary or an online reference to help them find answers they do not know.
Discourage perfectionism: While many parents have the child who rushes over homework, others have the child who agonizes over turning in the perfect paper. When this occurs, it is beneficial to remind your child homework is for practice and that no one, including their teacher, expects them to be perfect. With such a child, a 10 or 20 minute limit might need to be set per assignment. When time is up they must move on to the next item or get up and play.
Investigate any resistance: If your child resists all efforts and stubbornly refuses to do homework, it may be a sign of a real struggle with subject material and work. If this persists, it is time to sit down with your child and teacher and see if they are struggling with similar work in school. Perhaps it is a methodology issue and homework can be approached differently. For instance, one assignment may need to be broken down into several smaller tasks for your child. Jed Baker, PhD, author of No More Meltdowns says to encourage your child to complete at least one task for sitting. He says that completing one task may give your child momentum to move on and complete them all.
Lastly, parents should, underline should, recognize their child’s sincere efforts. Such recognition goes far and is powerful, powerful incentive in helping your child feel good about their work and their efforts in school.