Good homework habits

School is back in and by now, your children should be getting into the routine of school life and homework. Homework is not only an opportunity for your child to revise and learn, it is also a chance for you to become involved in your child’s learning and education. Here are ways to help your youngsters become more organised and minimise homework stress.

Talk to the teacher

Ask your child’s teacher about homework policy. How much time should your child spend on it per night? First graders for instance are rarely expected to work more than 20 or 30 minutes a night. Ask the teacher how he or she uses homework. Is its purpose to prepare for upcoming lessons or tests, to support work in class or to test a child’s ability levels? The answers will decide how much you should help with the work.

Set up a schedule

Some children work well right after school, before they lose focus. Others are restless and need to work off some energy before they can sit and concentrate. Some children are famished and need to eat something first. Determine a time slot that works for your child and stick to it.

Keep track of assignments

Most teachers send home an assignment list, but if your child’s teacher does not, make your own calendar and ask the teacher to fill in assignments and due dates. Keep a homework folder and make sure all papers are in the right place each night.

Study space

Provide a comfortable chair and a desk, one that is high enough for your child to write at comfortably with ample lighting. Have a selection of school supplies handy including rulers, whiteout, glue and a variety of pens, crayons and felt-tipped pens.

Give praise

Look over your child’s homework and give him positive feedback about all the things he is doing right. If you do find errors, do not be harsh in your criticism. Instead, review the work together and try to pinpoint the area of difficulty. Use direct praise for doing the homework and even more so, for accomplishment, “You spelled 17 out of 20 words correctly. That’s a personal best for you! Well done!”

Turn off distractions

Give your child enough quiet time to finish the assignment. Your child may perform best if everyone in the family also reads or writes during homework time. Turn off the radio, television and any other distractions such as others talking loudly on the phone.

Study groups

Study groups are often a good strategy. Your child may benefit from studying with one or two classmates. However, make sure they are using the time to study.

Time after time, research shows that when parents become involved in their children’s schoolwork, the children do better in school. One way you can get involved is by helping your child with homework. It will benefit both your child’s education and self-esteem.

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