Now that school is back in session for many parents, I would like to share 6 tips that I learned during a presentation last week on helping your kids with their homework.
- Stay in contact with the teacher. One of the biggest complaints that many teachers have is not being able to communicate with the parents. As much as we love our children, they are not the most reliable sources to pass along messages. Make sure you are communicating directly with the teacher on a regular basis to track you child’s progress. I often wonder how children fail a grade and the parents claim to have no idea anything was wrong. *Sidenote: children don’t usually go from honor roll to failing over night.
- Give them space. No only do they need to be in a comfortable area to focus on their homework, make sure there is adequate lighting, resources (encylopedias, reference books, internet sources, etc) available and other supplies. You should also eliminate any distractions such as television, radio or telephones. Just because other people are not doing homework, does not mean that these noises won’t be distractions to your children.
- Be available. Here’s the catch with this one. You don’t have to be physically sitting there with your child but they should know that if they need assistance, you are available. Consider dividing their assignment into things they can do on their own and encourage them to save the harder parts that they need with for last. This will give them confidence after seeing what they were able to accomplish. It will also allow you time to help with the hard parts, give them a chance to finish the work then go back and check all of the work.
- Help them with time management. Purchase a calendar for your child that allows them to track assignment due dates and help them break larger projects into managable pieces with several deadlines. It should not be your responsibility to remember all of their deadlines. Set them up for success by teaching them to manage their own time. Also set a beginning and end time for homework with the ability to do something “fun” once they are complete. Although they may run over the time limit on occassion, they will have an incentive to make it to the finish line. Their fun thing could be that their favorite TV show comes on at 8p. They must understand that the homework must not only be complete but that you will check over it before they are released.
- Don’t discount study groups. Once your child is old enough to study with other people, consider hosting a weekly study group. Make sure the group is also free of distractions and provide some type of incentive for them to do well collectively. Maybe the parents can plan a hot dog party if the group achieves a certain score on the project. This will help them to realize the value of team work and not think that everything is just about them. Also, children are very motivated by their peers. Forming these groups will help to monitor the types of people your children are hanging around.
- Praise your children for the successes. Every day our children are put in situations that chip away at their self confidence and cause them to question everything that they thought they knew about life. Many parents have resorted to “things” to show their children that they are proud of them or to replace simple phrases like, “I am so proud of you.” “Great job today!” “You are the best son/daughter a mother could wish for” It is amazing how much more valuable these words of encouragement are to your child than the latest sneakers or newest Play Station. Our children need more emotional support than material items.
I hope at least one of these tips will help you all make this school year a huge success. Please share any additional tips that you have to help your kids with their homework. Remember: we are in this together, children don’t come with instruction manuals…
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