Helping Kids with Homework
Do you find yourself perennially in a tiff with your kids come homework hour? Do you sometimes even do part or all of it for them just to get the ordeal over with as quick as you can?
Believe it or not, there are more effective ways to help your children with their assignments. You can even use the time to build a strong parent-child relationship, even as you nurture your children's self-image and school abilities. Here, seven ways to do it.
1. Start by helping your children experience homework as a pleasurable activity. Changing the concept of "homework" to "study" encourages children to hit the books even when there is no homework to be done. It also discourages shortcuts ("I have no homework: may I watch TV on?").
2. During study time, ask them to list down at least three things they learned from each subject. For this, provide each child with one notebook per subject. As they try to remember, they are forced to look back at what happened in class, strengthening their memory in the process.
3. Younger children may be asked to tell a story about their day in school. Writing down your child's story in the notebook and then reading it back to her encourages the development of early reading and writing. This study habit is also a good transition activity, to take your child from "day at school" to "homework" mode.
4. If your child can't list down three things he learned, encourage him to go through the day's lesson again and teach you for a change. Remember that the best way to learn something is to teach it.
Through this strategy, children also form positive images of themselves. Hear them say, "I remember so many things, Mom."
5. Establishing a regular study time helps lessen homework-related stress. It enables kids to keep track of schedules and to know what is expected of them. An after-school routine for children below 10 can include an hour of playtime, then 15 minutes of quiet time during which snacks can be served, and then study time.
A good rule of thumb is that on weekdays, the time students should spend studying is about 10 minutes per grade level reached. Therefore, a first-grader should have about 10 minutes of study time: a sixth grader, about an hour's worth.
6. Treat study time as a social situation. Each of your children should have a comfortable study area, but make sure that the space does not isolate them from the rest of the family. To do so could send them the signal that homework is boring or punishable.
7. Finally, remember that your children will be taking their cue from you. Help them develop healthy study habits: Associate studying with pleasurable times: but also make sure that they know that you expect them to do their homework on weekdays. The younger your children are, the more they'll need your help. So sit with them, check their assignments, and remind them of study time. As they get used to the routine, slowly back away and let them do their thing.
Homework does not only develop school smarts, it also sets the stage for lifelong habits.