In an earlier blog post I discussed ways parents can help their children learn more from homework.
Here are a few additional suggestions that can help make homework time less stressful for students who struggle in school.
Provide a place to work that has all the necessary supplies. This does not need to be a formal desk and study area. It can be at the kitchen table or a corner of the living room. However, it needs to be well-stocked. I have found that the "everything for a dollar" stores are a great source of inexpensive supplies like poster board and construction paper. The study space also needs to be distraction-free as much as possible, and it needs to be comfortable for working. If your child needs to move around, consider allowing them to stand while they work.
Check completed homework assignments to make sure they are thorough and the child followed directions. This is especially helpful for young children who need additional support. But, some older children skip questions or leave answers blank. These children might need your help looking up answers or figuring out what the question they skipped is really asking.
Make sure children do not have too much in their daily schedule. Children need time to devote to their schoolwork. Involving them in too many after school events sends the message that their education is less important than extracurricular activities. (See Kids, Stress and How Parents Can Help.)
Make sure your children have time for fun in their day. Children need exercise and "down time" in their day. This, of course, relates to my previous point since it is difficult to balance fun time and work time if the child’s day is overbooked.
Give specific praise when deserved. Look for something they did well and mention that specifically. For example, "I’m so glad you put your heading on correctly tonight. Remember last night? You forgot to do that." Note that this is not worthy of a "Great job!" comment unless this has been an ongoing problem and the child finally remembered without being reminded. Praising children for work that is not well done actually does harm. "Great job!" when the child hurried through their work conveys to the child that it is fine to produce less than their best work.
Please let me know what kinds of homework issues you have with your children. Maybe together we can figure out ways to help make homework a little more enjoyable.
Livia McCoy spent many years teaching upper school science. She currently serves as Dean of Student Support at The Steward School in Richmond, VA. Livia sees each student as an individual with great potential to learn, and feels her job is to help every student figure out how to be successful in school. Livia says, “I blog about the many smart students who struggle in school because they think differently or have attention issues. I share what I have learned helping these students, their parents and teachers to see how they can experience success in school.” Livia welcomes comments on her blog at SchoolFamily.com.