Every afternoon and every evening, parents around the world face the prospect of coaxing, nagging and cajoling their children into doing their homework. Sometimes children remember the assignment and how to do it, and other times they plead complete helplessness. It can seem simpler just to grab the pencil and fill in the worksheet yourself, but there’s a better way. You can create an environment and a routine conducive to your children doing their homework more independently. Consider yourself the guide on the side, ready with support rather than answers, suggestions rather than decisions.
If your children regularly do their homework in the same place, make that place pleasant but not too stimulating. A homework station may be the kitchen table or a shared desk, and it should not be near any loud music or other media. Keep the television, video player and computer off, unless you require media to do research. A good homework station has enough light for reading and studying, comfortable seating (but not too comfortable) and a flat surface for writing.
Parents often start homework sessions frustrated when children claim to have lost all their necessary materials. Avoid this plight by keeping a basket of basic school supplies near the homework station. Pencils, erasers, sharpeners, crayons, markers, pens and colored pencils at the ready help do away with procrastination. Other materials you may want in a homework basket include blank paper, a notebook, a ruler, stapler, paper clips, a compass and a student dictionary. Keep a copy of teacher phone numbers or email addresses nearby in case you need to clarify an assignment.
Scholastic has a basic supplies list that covers most homework needs: http://www.scholastic.com/resources/article/school-supplies-to-keep-at-home
Being short on time or attempting to multitask has many parents skipping the directions of the assignment. Before beginning homework time, ask your children to extract all letters home, homework notes, worksheets, projects, workbooks, textbooks, notebooks and ancillary materials from the depths of their backpack. Have them read through assignments and directions and ask them if they have any questions. If they have a hard time wading through long directions, underline key words and phrases for them to focus on.
Trevor Romaine’s book How to Do Homework Without Throwing Up (Laugh and Learn) has several tips to get children more organized at homework time: http://www.amazon.com/Homework-Without-Throwing-Laugh-Learn/dp/1575420112/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303357241&sr=1-1
Create Busy Work
This concluding piece of advice is for parents, not for children. Rather than over-involve yourself in every move your children make, give yourself some of your own homework to do at your children’s sides. Keep it relatively mindless, such as making a grocery list or brainstorming vacation plans, so that you can check in with your children as they work. Working nearby on your own project also sets an example for your children. If your children get stuck while doing homework, have them read the question out loud a couple times. Ask them to reword the question, or to point to the key words in the question. If they get overwhelmed or overstimulated, cover the rest of the page with a blank piece of paper so that they only see the section they are currently working on.
Parents who want to assess children’s progress or use material from homework assignments to create flashcards and multiple choice tests can do so with the Cram iPhone app: http://itunes.apple.com/app/cram-flashcards-multiple-choice/id290024708?mt=8
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