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Set up your child for homework success

Top 10 tips for supporting your child with homework

Check out the ideas below for ways to support students of all ages in doing homework at home.

 

  1. Prep the space 
    • Limit distractions
    • Have comfortable seating with a desk or other surface to work on
    • Make sure needed materials are close by
    • Consider lighting and background noises 
  2. Getting started
    • Help your child get settled into the space
    • Confirm your child understands the assignment
  3. Check-in
    • Make sure your child is staying focused
    • Check that your child is making progress
  4. Follow-up
    • Check to make sure work has been completed
    • Encourage your child to review work for errors
    • For younger children, help them get work into backpack, ready to turn in
  5. Celebrate
    • Provide specific praise for work habits and effort
    • Acknowledge when work has felt hard and your child showed perseverance
    • Get excited about your child’s accomplishments
  1. Make it a habit
    • As much as possible, stick to the same routine each day for your child’s homework time
    • When the schedule needs to change, communicate that and be clear about when homework will be done
    • Encourage your child to be as independent as possible in getting into the daily routine
  1. Learn together
    • Take advantage of nights with no assigned homework to learn something new together
    • Sit with your child and have him/her teach you about what they’re learning in school
    • Ask questions and be interested
    • Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know” if your child asks a question.  Search for answers together
  2. Make it calm
    • Even if the afternoon/evening feels busy, try to make homework time feel calm and relaxed
    • Keep a quiet, calm voice even if your child is frustrated
    • Stay positive and help your child work through challenges
  3. Keep it fun
    • Explore topics that your child is excited about
    • Go read or study in the backyard or at a park on a nice afternoon
    • Think of ways to spice up learning with fun at home
      • Play games to study for a test
      • Use silly voices to practice spelling words
      • Act out scenes from a novel or history lesson
  1. Think life skills
    • Learning isn’t just done through homework from school
    • Involve your child in activities around the house to help build important skills
      • Cooking and baking
      • Yard work
      • Projects around the house
      • Laundry
      • Caring for younger siblings

What is the purpose of homework?

In general, there are four main reasons students will have homework:

  1. To provide further opportunities for practice of concepts
  2. To finish work that was started in class but not completed
  3. To work on a project that needs extended time
  4. To give families a glimpse into what is being learned at school

Tips to set up your child for homework success

Most importantly, work with your child to make decisions as much as possible so that they feel a sense of ownership over their time!

Consider:

  • Where? Find a space in your home that is free of distractions and comfortable for learning.
  • When? Discuss with your child the time of day they feel most ready to work. Do they prefer to get it done immediately when they get home or have a break for a while. Agree to a time, and stick to it as best you can.
  • What? Consider what materials need to be close by so your child doesn’t have to spend time hunting for things instead of working.
  • What else? Have a conversation with your child about what he/she feels is needed to have success working at home.

How to support your child’s learning

  • Ask your child what type of support he/she would like to have to feel successful.
  • Make the goal supportive, but not intrusive. Be available, but don’t hover. We want our children to be able to work independently as much as possible.
  • Set clear guidelines for how your child can ask for help.
  • Help them get started, check in frequently (as needed) and follow up at the end to ensure it is complete. As students become more independent this process might look more like a quick check-in to get started and once they are done, without the need for support during.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the teacher for help if there is an issue. Teachers want and need to know when something isn’t going well at home so they can adjust learning in the classroom. Send a quick email to let them know if you hit a trouble spot, and don’t be afraid to ask for help!

When helping our children find success with homework, parents will likely have a time when behavior issues arise. Typically, what looks like “bad” behavior on the outside is a way that children show us they’re struggling on the inside. Look beyond the behavior and get to the real issue by remembering to…

  • Listen! Allow your child to feel that their emotions and concerns are heard and understood.
  • Provide support! Ask if they would like help brainstorming ways to work through the problem/frustration instead of simply telling them what to do.
  • Be consistent! Children crave routine and structure, even if they seem to fight it. So, make that learning time consistent and safe. There may be push back, but you’ll see progress once the routine is well established.
  • Create connections! If your child is struggling to understand a concept, dig in and learn together. Ask questions and work to build interest. Share about a time school was hard for you and how you handled it.

Browse other Family Talk topics below:

  • Have you ever noticed that bad habits seem easy to pick up, while the positive habits can seem difficult to master? Check out the tips below to help you, and everyone in your family, create positive, lasting habits!

    Positive habits help to

    • Build a sense of responsibility and independence
    • Increase productivity
    • Boost self-esteem and increase emotional well-being
    • Lower stress

    Listen to the latest Andover Airwaves podcast about healthy habits:


     

    Steps to create positive habits

    “Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become,” James Clear, Atomic Habits.

    Habit Stacking

    Creating a new routine or habit can be challenging. One way to make it easier is to try habit stacking! Think of a habit that you already have established, then “stack” a new habit onto it. Our brains love to make connections, so attaching something new to something you already do will help you remember to complete the new task.   

    Example: Your child wants to create a habit of reading for 10 minutes in the morning before school. She is already in the habit of eating breakfast every day.  She can stack reading onto eating breakfast to help her brain remember to perform the new task.

    Reflect and Celebrate!

    Anytime we are working to create a new habit, it is important to build in checkpoints or intentional times to stop and reflect on how things are going. Make necessary changes to your behavior. Then, celebrate what is going well and reward yourself! This process builds stamina and a desire in our brains to continue the behavior.