Homework for early-elementary school children may be in the form of worksheets, but older children may simply be told by their teachers what to do and when. No matter how great a memory your child has, every student should develop some kind of simple technique to keep track of unfinished homework, due dates and upcoming tests or quizzes. For a younger student, consider investing in two-sided folders for each subject: your child can store blank paper and unfinished assignments on one side and completed homework on the other. Younger children may also do well with a blank notebook labeled "Homework." Older students might enjoy feeling grown-up by using a small calendar or day planner. Have your child accompany you to the office supply or bookstore to pick one out, and show them your own method of tracking appointments.
Set a schedule.
Just as adults must set aside time for things they want and need to do, children need to allocate time in their busy days to do homework. Some children may do well with a structured routine - 6:00 to 6:45 dinner, 6:45 to 7:00 relaxation, 7:00 to 8:00 homework, 8:00 to 8:30 television - while others may be more diligent about completing their homework on time without much prodding. Clearly, the length of study time and amount of parental involvement with assignments will vary depending on a child's age, but no matter how old, children do better in school when they reserve some portion of their day for studying and homework.
Designate a quiet study place.
Whether doing math and science problems, reading a chapter or writing an essay, effective comprehension and learning requires concentration. And though your child may try to convince you otherwise, doing homework in front of the television will make it nearly impossible for your child to get much done. While a clutter-free desk in your child's bedroom is an ideal study spot, other good places include a dining room table, kitchen counter or parent's home office or study, as long as the area is quiet, well lit and has all the supplies your child will need (pencils, paper, erasers, etc.).
When children come home from school, they need and deserve some downtime. Encourage your child to play (outside if the weather is nice) with siblings or friends so that your child can get a little exercise and social time. While many children will want to watch television as soon as they walk in the door, too much television may make it difficult for them to reenergize for homework time later in the evening.
No child - or adult - should study for hours without small breaks. Encourage your child to take five-minute timeouts in between subjects and stand, stretch, walk around or get a glass of water.
Whenever possible, allow for some amount of fun or relaxation after homework and before bedtime. Children will be more efficient during study time when they know they'll get to watch a television show or talk on the phone after they're finished.
Give your child choices.
While homework time should never be negotiable, let your child to have some say in his or her study schedule and approach for homework. If your child prefers to start with a favorite subject first, don't force him or her to do the opposite just because it would be your preference. Establish ground rules for homework, but still allow your child flexibility.
As children move into middle and high school, most teachers will assume students already have strong study habits. Children will receive less "hand holding" and will be expected to take notes and stay apprised of the semester's schedule for homework, projects, quizzes and exams. Lay the groundwork early on by teaching your young student the importance of homework and study time. Treat studying as a subject of its own that requires practice and commitment like all other homework.
Huntington helps thousands of children refine their study skills and tackle subjects where they may be struggling. If your child needs additional help, don't wait to correct the problem. Call Huntington today to find out more about our customized tutoring programs.