Saturday, October 4, 2014

Ten tips for Helping with Homework


Last week at about 10 pm we were facing total meltdown in our home because one of our children had forgotten about an assignment that was due the next day.  She begged me to do the assignment for her because her stress level was so high.  How can we help our children develop skills for independent study and organization so this kind of thing doesn't happen?

1. First, realize that meltdowns and mistakes are going to happen.  This is sometimes how children need to learn.  They will make mistakes, but these are opportunities for us to teach them important lessons that they will remember.   Be patient.                                    

2. Never do an assignment for a child.  You can lend support without doing things for your child.  It is important to their school success to help them learn independence.

3.  Teach them how to find things in their book.  This has been the most successful tactic in our family.  Many times children are just overwhelmed by all the information they have to sift through.  If you teach them about how to skim through to the right chapter and section to find their answer, they are empowered to find the information themselves.  You may have to be patient as they practice this skill until they believe they can do it.

4.  Teach children to use a calendar or Agenda to record what is assigned each day.  Some children who have iphones take pictures of the assignments on the board.  Other children use agendas.  We've had great success with this, but we've had to teach the kids how to use it, and remind them often to keep it up.  They will make mistakes, but over time, they will get the hang of it.  Help them break big projects down into little steps and put the steps on their agenda.

5.  Make children type their own papers.  This is an important skill that only comes through practice, so they need to have many opportunities to type.  This means you will have to remind them to start the assignment early so they won't be under the gun if they are slow at typing.

6. Teach them to communicate with their teachers themselves and go in for help when they need it.  When you don't do this for them, it builds their confidence, and communication with the teacher raises the likelihood of their success.

7. Make sure there is a place where they can do homework and supplies available.  It's best to keep computers in the main living area so you can monitor their use.  However, be sensitive to whether your child does homework better in private or in the family area.

8. Lend moral support.  Sometimes children just need some cheerleading, or even just some company.  Be willing to take time out to do this.  Regularly have your child check their school progress online, and so they can see if they have missing assignments.

9. If you are teaching them a concept, first have them find it in the book and read it out loud to you.  They may begin to understand it when they do this.  If not, at least you will be teaching it the way the teacher does at school, so as to avoid confusion.  Be patient as you teach concepts.  You may have to try several different ways.  Never get angry as you teach.  Walk away and come back to it later if you find yourself losing patience.

10. Get them enough folders that they will have one for each class.  Teach them how to stay organized.  It is important that they stay organized in order to not lose assignments.

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