Building Homework Habits

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Homework doesn’t have to be a fighting point in your family. A good homework routine can establish expectations, development and success with homework.

homework-habitsSet-up a Spot. First off, your family needs a “homework spot”. A central location, like the kitchen table, can be effective when several kids need to do homework simultaneously and a parent is supervising. A bedroom with a desk, chair and good lighting can be better for older kids who don’t need as much supervision or who need separation from siblings.

The “homework spot” should be free of television, telephones, loud music or computers (unless required for homework). These devices can be distracting.

Tip: a nutritious snack before or during homework can be a good source of energy.

Establish a Routine. Doing homework in the same spot and at the same time everyday sets a schedule. Kids stick to schedules everyday at school so there is no excuse for them not following the homework routine at home.

And to back-up the schedule – ensure there is an expectation. Homework gets done before television. Homework gets done before soccer. Homework gets done before Thursday night. Kids need to know what is expected of them. Timelines and deadlines. This isn’t just useful for homework strategies but it is a life skill for the greater world. They will need to know how to prioritize and organize for their working life. They learn these skills through dedication to homework.

And if soccer is Wednesday nights, and your busy family schedule just can’t fit homework into that time…then organize the schedule to have that night’s work done some other time (after breakfast? the night before? at the sitter’s?)

Stick to the Schedule. Stick to the school homework schedule. If homework is due on Friday – have it, completed, in the backpack Thursday night. If it is due on Monday – work on it over the weekend. Don’t encourage or condone your kids’ bringing in homework late (or not doing homework at all). This not only sends a message that you, as a parent, will let things slide but also that homework is not important. And we know neither of those are true.

Sometimes getting homework actually done can be like pulling teeth. It gets frustrating, for a parent, to constantly remind, encourage, coach and motivate a child to do homework. In the growing years, it is (fortunately or unfortunately) part of your role to cheer on homework.

Define a Time. Setting a defined “homework time” helps in getting a child at the homework table. Depending on your child’s age, homework time can range from 20 minutes of reading to an hour plus of work. Talk to your school about their homework policy. If you find it taking too long or not enough time, in your opinion, talk to your child’s teacher for support.

Tip: For younger kids, a timer can be helpful to keep them at homework. When the buzzer goes off…homework time is done for the day.

Have a Resource Binder. Keep a resource binder at home for homework help. If your child is learning the multiplication tables – have a print out of the tables in a binder for their reference. Same for vocabulary sheets or French verb conjugation. You can make resource sheets from your home computer or ask the teacher to supply examples for you to photocopy.

And though you, as a parent, can help and advise on homework…NEVER do your child’s homework for them (tsk tsk!). This just teaches that you will snowplow obstacles for them rather than teaching them how to overcome a challenge by themselves – with their own skills.

Homework is usually age appropriate – your child can do the work – give them the space, skills and motivation to do it.

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