Homework Help: How to Do Homework

Teacher and parent having a conference

Helping your child develop good homework habits is like teaching him to brush his teeth or go to bed on time; it takes a structured routine, consistency, and patience.

Here are some tips on how to make homework a priority and still have time to kick around the soccer ball.

How to Help with Homework

Understand Expectations

Know the teacher’s homework policies and expectations. You may have to call the teacher at the beginning of the year to learn her expectations. Some schools have online programs or voicemail systems that allow parents to review new assignments daily. Your child should know her homework assignments as well.

Make Homework a Priority

Make homework a priority in your home. Tell your child how important it is to complete each assignment and show your child your support by being physically near him while he is working. You can finish your own work, clean the kitchen, or pay the bills. Check in occasionally and be available to offer homework help, but try not to give the answers. Show your child how to do homework instead of doing the work yourself. Check over the completed homework and sign it.

Establish a Work Space and Routine

Have the same homework routine each day. Ask your child to write down her assignments in a special book or calendar. Your child’s teacher may have a special folder for homework assignments, especially in the younger grades. Create a special homework space. It can be at the kitchen table or a spot in the den. Few children work well independently in their bedrooms unless you accompany them, especially in the elementary and middle school years. Help your child stay focused on homework by turning off the TV and removing other distractions.

Prepare School Supplies

Have school supplies on hand, such as paper, pencils and erasers. An electric pencil sharpener is a great investment.

Allow Flexibility

Although your routine should remain the same, you may have to adjust the homework time on certain days depending on other family activities. Allow for a break every 20 minutes if necessary and make sure your child is fed. Hungry children work slower and have more difficulty staying focused on homework.

Organize Homework Assignments

Help your child organize his assignments. Have him complete the easier assignments first so he avoids frustration and builds on success.

Balance Guidance and Learning through Consequences

Children are different, of course, and some will embrace parental attempts at organization while others are much more likely to procrastinate or become distracted. Our job is to help them learn how to become responsible students. Sometimes that means letting them face the consequences of putting homework off until the last minute, and then working with them to avoid future problems.

Finding the Homework Answers

Let’s face it, some of the stuff we parents just won’t know. That’s okay. Be honest. Admit to your child when you don’t know the answers to homework and try to find them together.

There are lots of helpful web sites:

Work with the Teacher

If your child seems frustrated or constantly resists completing homework assignments, speak with your child’s teacher. Don’t wait for parent-teacher conferences or report cards if you have concerns about your child’s academic performance. Most teachers make themselves available via email or phone, so don't hesitate to contact them. You are your child’s best advocate. Take an active role in her education. By tackling issues as they arise, your child will learn to tackle assignments successfully and develop good study skills as a result. The teacher and school will be eager to give you ideas and suggestions.

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Written by: Bright Horizons Education Team

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