Make the Homework Hour Happy Hour: Top 10 Tips
At one point or another we all have to pitch in a little bit to help our children complete their homework. Whether its going to the library with your daughter to get research materials, explaining fractions to your son, or quizzing them before the big test, we all want to be supportive and helpful.
And sometimes your child practices keen homework-evasive maneuvers, and then you have to turn into a homework commander, just to make sure that some homework gets done (hopefully not by you).
So what’s the solution to prevent having to do it yourself, or nagging until your throat is sore?
When it comes to homework time, a little organization and strategic planning help to make the homework hour structured, so that kids don’t have to rely on you, and so that you don’t have to put on your nagging hat.
Follow our 10 homework tips to transform the homework hour from headache to hassle-free.
Top 10 Tips to Handle Homework:
- Set Up a Study Area—We’ve mentioned the importance of having a designated study area before—read our article on study stadiums here—create an area that is homework only, so that when your child sits in the homework area, the work gets done.
- Make Materials Available to the Homework Area—what tools does your child need to get the homework done? Use a container or box to keep all supplies handy: paper, sharpened pencils, pen, erasers, protractors, crayons, and calculator. Anything that your child may need access to during homework should be accessed easily so that he won’t have to rummage around for it.
- Remove the Distractions— If the study area is the dining room table, and a TV is nearby, make sure that the TV is off. Or if the area is next to a window, and the falling leaves are just too distracting, switch places, or consider a change of location. But don’t be too stringent, some people work best with a little background noise, like a radio playing quietly in the background.
- Set a Time Frame—there is a 10 minute rule of thumb for how long homework should take: 10 minutes for grade 1, then add ten minutes for every grade that follows. Following the formula, a child in grade six should have 1 hour of homework (60 minutes); a student in grade 12 should have two hours (120 minutes). So base your time allotment roughly on this schedule, and tailor to meet your child’s needs—longer if studying for a test or for kids in advanced classes, less time for those who work quickly, or who finish the work in class.
- Offer Guidance—but don’t do the homework for your child. Be close by, maybe sit at the table too, or in the next room, and read the newspaper, or read a book, so if your child asks a question she won’t have to go looking for you.
- Use An Agenda— it’s the key organizational tool for homework. They remind a student of tasks to be completed, and are also a great place to write down questions to ask the teacher, or for you to leave reminders for your child like don’t forget that you have a dentist appointment at 11—remind Mr. Green!
- Stay Informed—talk to the teacher when you can, find out about upcoming projects that may require extra help, and find out how long the teacher feels that assigned homework should take. How does your child fit into the class average — it’s good to be informed.
- Be a Role Model! When you set about determining the homework hour, practice what you preach. If this is the hour to do the things that need to be done, then join your child in the homework area to pay the bills, for example. Set a good example by your actions, read a book, do some research, or bring something home from work to complete.
- Offer Praise—you can never hear too much of the good stuff. Kids will appreciate that their efforts are not going unrecognized, and you’ll help bolster their confidence.
- Watch Frustration Levels—don’t let the homework hour become the hated hour. If your child is feeling stressed by the homework, or just can’t master the concepts, then its time to seek help. Homework is unfortunately, a part of school—but it doesn’t have to be the worst part.