Homework: you probably dreaded it when you were a kid, and your child probably does, too. Although the prospect of sitting down and doing more work after spending the whole day at school isn’t alluring to anyone, continuing the learning process at home is essential for assimilating the day’s lessons. So how do you get your kids to actually sit down and get their homework done? We asked resource teacher Monique Dionne for some tips on a successful approach.
Choose the right time to do it
Sit down with your child and discuss when she would prefer to do her homework. Some kids work better when a strict routine is established, whereas others prefer to have some degree of flexibility. Some children may have an easier time starting their homework as soon as they come home from school, whereas others may prefer to wait until after supper. Another option is to make time for it in the morning—talk to your child about these options, and try different ones before officially deciding when “homework time” should be.
Create a peaceful atmosphere
It’s important for your child to feel relaxed and calm when she is doing her homework; no good will come from it becoming an extra source of stress—for you or her. Designate a place where she can concentrate, and keep a “homework tool chest” accessible for her to use only when she is doing school-related work: include sharpened pencils, erasers, a ruler, etc. If needed, consult your child’s teacher about acquiring an extra copy of the math book or reader to keep at home.
Ask the teacher how much time your child should be spending on homework each night. Don’t force her to go overboard—an important part of learning is also giving the mind a rest. One way of putting a time limit on homework is to set a kitchen timer; this way, the child will know exactly how much more time she has left to do her work, and the task won’t seem endless. This may work for some kids, but not for others (it may have the reverse effect, creating an added level of stress)—try it out with yours before establishing a routine.
Monitor your child’s homework every day
Check your child’s planner daily to know exactly what homework needs to be done. Telling you she “doesn’t have any homework today” is an easy way to get out of school work if you’re not double checking whether or not she’s telling the truth.
Divide the work into small tasks
Help your child split her homework up into smaller tasks, which should be easier to accomplish. It’s a good idea to give her feedback on how she did after she’s completed each one.
Tip: if you don’t feel comfortable with a certain subject your child is studying, it may be a good idea to have a friend or family member assist her with her work for that class instead.
Make sure homework is completed
Once your child tells you she is finished with her work, check to make sure it’s been done. However, it’s important NOT to correct mistakes that your child has made; homework is an essential way for the teacher to see how well she understood (or didn’t understand) the subject matter.
Find a way of rewarding your child for successfully completing her homework. It can be as simple as allowing her to have 15 more minutes of TV, Internet or video game time after supper. However, stay away from rewarding your kids with food—for the sake of their health—or money; they need to know that learning is an important part of their education, and they shouldn’t expect to get paid to do it.