But, says Cecil Clark, coauthor of Hassle-Free Homework, being a latchkey kid is not an excuse for not doing homework. Kids who are home alone have a chance to develop self-management skills. But it takes effort and imagination from their parents.

Sit down with your child to plan what needs to be done after school. Start by making a list. How much time should be spent on homework? Does your child need to practice an instrument? Is TV allowed?

Then make a checklist. Write it on colored paper and post it where your child does homework. List blocks of time and offer choices for each. For example:

3:30 - 3:45—Call Mom at work
3:45 - 4:00—Play with kitten or watch TV
4:00 - 4:30—English or Social Studies homework
4:30 - 5:00—Practice instrument or quiet reading
5:00 - 5:30—Math homework

When you come home, spend time looking over what your child has completed. Praise her for what she’s finished.

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