Like it or hate it, your child is bound to have homework. Now that school is starting, it’s a good time to remember some tricks that help make homework less of a daily battle – thanks to the EdNews Parent experts.

🔗Set schedules and create a space

  • Set up a place to do homework that is free of distractions.  Both the kitchen table or the living room are placesYoung boy studying or doing homework that are often more conducive to getting work done than in a bedroom with TV, music, and phones can be distractions. Computers are an important support, but if not needed for the work they can also prove to be a distraction as students use them to Facebook, IM, etc.
  • Students should schedule an appointment to do homework, and keep it. This allows the student to plan around extra curricular activities. Even if your child doesn’t have homework or the homework doesn’t take the whole amount of time that your child has scheduled, keep the appointment. This “spare” time is a great opportunity to organize a binder, review notes, plan for upcoming projects and assessments, or just read a book.
  • Encourage your son or daughter to know his or her limits. If your son knows that he needs 30 minutes to cool down/relax before diving into homework, don’t set the homework clock for right after school. Allow your son to give himself time to relax and get  focused.  The flip side is, if your son knows that once he starts on something that is not school-oriented, he may have a hard time getting back on task. If that is the case, encourage him to set the homework appointment right after school.

Carrie Heaney, award-winning middle school math teacher

🔗Spend time working alongside your child

  • Sit down with your kiddo.  Not the hovering kind of sit, but the comfortable, “I’m here. I’ll do my work while you do yours. If you need help, I’m here, just ask.”
 
The “go to your room and do your homework” is a futile phrase for many, many kids.
  • Food and drink first. The machine needs fuel.
  • Reading should be part of every day. Read the paper, a magazine, a book, a comic, there are lots of choices. It’s great to read what  your kids are reading then talk about your different reactions. 

When you engage in learning as a life choice, then homework during school is just a facet of what goes on in the home anyway.

Suzanne Lustie, retired teacher and lover of learning

🔗Decide how much homework time is appropriate

  • Choose an amount of time your son or daughter is willing and able to reasonably devote to homework.  Many teachers use a guideline of 10 minutes per grade level (so third-graders would do 30 minutes of homework). Once your child has reached the limit, tell him or her it’s OK to stop.
  • Communicate with your child’s teacher if homework is regularly extending beyond what is reasonable. Homework should be designed for children to do independently. Be available to answer questions as needed, but let your child work on his/her homework independently as much as possible.
  • Be specific in praising your child on their homework.  Instead of saying, “Good job!” you might try, “I noticed that you started on your homework right away and without any complaints tonight.”
  • Communicate any issues or concerns you might have about your child’s homework.  If your child struggles with homework, the teacher needs to know that.

Kathleen Luttenegger, assistant education professor at Metro State College

🔗Explain why homework matters

Establish the importance of homework and how it can translate into success. Homework is a check for understanding. Completed homework tells the teacher whether or not she needs to cover the material again.  The teacher does not know if they should re-teach something unless they see completed homework.

Kevin Jones, principal of Center High School

🔗Set consequences for homework undone

For younger children, set the rule that your youngster can’t do x (go outside and play, go to soccer) until his/her homework is done. For all children, show them how you, as a parent, can access the school’s online grading portal to see whether or not the child has missing homework assignments. Set consequences that suit your family if homework completion goes awry.

Jaclyn Hernandez, mom and doctoral student in education at CU-Boulder

🔗About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.