Back to school season is in full swing and as a parent you have a thousand things on your mind when it comes to getting your children prepared for the school year to start. One of those things being homework and making sure that your children not only do their homework but complete it to the best of their ability.
This doesn’t get said often enough: You are your child’s best teacher. Family involvement is a vital aspect of every child’s learning and development, not only academically, but also socially and emotionally.
Schools today make a conscious effort to provide opportunities for parents to get involved in their children’s school life. Aside from taking part in activities like show-and-tell, bring-your-Daddy-to-work day, school plays and the like, there’s also the kind of involvement you can do everyday at home: homework. Studies have shown that kids who take their time to do homework perform better in school and reap more academic benefits as they move up.
But the truth is homework can be hard for kids – it can dampen confidence as well as cause tantrums and power struggles at home. This is where you come in.
Understanding the PURPOSE of homework
Before you begin to help your child appreciate and enjoy homework, you’ll need to get to its core. Homework isn’t just given to help a child complete an activity that school hours can’t accommodate. Homework facilitates knowledge retention, especially because the child is more relaxed at home and therefore learns better. Homework develops research abilities and help children familiarize self with encyclopedias, books, and the Internet. But more importantly, a child who regularly completes his or her assignments eventually develops good study habits which are later on important in establishing independence, responsibility, time management and perseverance.
Parents, on the other hand, learn about what their child is learning at school. They can reinforce positive behavior, and provide encouragement as well as personalized guidance – something the teacher at school can’t always give. Parents who help out with homework are more able to be in touch with the school, activities and any issues the child may have.
Homework: It’s a family affair
If you’re just starting to help your kids out with homework, you will discover why the entire family is involved. Firstly, you will need to make time for it. That can be challenging when you’re juggling a million other chores. Secondly, new rules have to be established, such as no more TV after 8, or homework first before TV (hence the power struggle). Thirdly, if you have more than one child, you may be faced with comparison issues such as why John has less homework than Susie, or why Jennifer gets fun assignments and Luke has to do boring Math homework. Finally, with so many new educational material being added every year, you may find yourself at a loss when you can’t understand your fifth – grader’s math assignment.
Down the struggle and ease the tension during homework time
Despite these challenges, nothing compares to the benefits that a little bonding over homework can do for both child and parent. Here’s how you can make homework fun and less stressful for your child:
- Show that you’re interested: Because your kids look up to you, they will believe what you believe. If you show complete enthusiasm in their homework, they’ll eventually get the hang of it and always look forward to working on their assignments independently. When your kiddo asks you for help, drop what you’re doing and sit down to look it over.
- Establish a schedule and a study spot: Children thrive better when they have routines set for them. Depending on your child’s age, determine the best time for homework. For older kids, it may be after dinner. The younger ones may work on their homework in the afternoon. Whatever time you choose, be sure there’s a routine that leads to it. For instance, when you kid comes home from school, offer a snack, allow an hour of play, wash up, do homework, and then have dinner. It is also important that you set an area of the house for homework. It must have adequate lighting, have a stable table, and is free from distractions. Let your child decorate his or her study spot.
- Build a mini-library: Your child will be more motivated to do homework when he or she sees that there are supplies like pens, paper, pads, crayons and the like available anytime. Invest in a set of reference books like encyclopedia. Have a computer to research purposes only. This way, when there’s something that needs to be researched, you don’t have to leave the house and rush to the library.
- Block off distractions: Social phone calls, TV, radio, the Internet, and other distractions should be discouraged. Remind your child these can be used after homework time. However, make sure you know what works for your kids better. Some children are able to concentrate with a low classical music playing in the background. Others need pin-drop silence. Some kids work better with a snack. The distractions you block off and how you help your child concentrate are entirely up to you and him or her.
- Have a study-mate come over: Children may enjoy doing homework when they’re alongside a friend or a classmate. Encourage your child to join a study group or a homework group and be a host once a week. Your kid may also ask a classmate to come over so they can work on an assignment together. It’s more fun for the kids, and you can to know your child’s friends.
- Apply and engage: This is something classroom learning can’t do. For example, if your child is learning about the life cycle of bugs, take a trip to your yard and look around for butterflies, cocoons, and caterpillars. Help your child perform little science experiments in the kitchen. If your kiddo is learning all about verb tenses in English, engage him or her in a conversation making use of the past, present and future tenses.
Skinny Mom Fact: The average student spends an hour a day on homework each night during the school year.