Many parents and children have a range of positive and negative feelings about homework: “It is too much or too little; too easy or too hard; takes up too much time and family time is already precious.” Give your child a chance to voice his concerns, if any, and then help him move forward in a positive direction. The benefits? Completing homework allows children an opportunity to learn to organize their time, work independently, and extend learning from the school day.
Setting Up a Space for Your Child to Do Homework
What can parents do to help children with homework? Create a space that conveys the message that homework is important and with the supplies to make it easier. If your child attends an after school program, he may complete his homework there; but even in this case, it is good to have a small area at home where any additional work can be done.
Creating a homework space sends the message that you believe homework is important. For younger children especially, find a space where it is easy for you to be nearby and provide homework help. This could be a corner of the kitchen table where your child works while you clean up from dinner, with supplies kept in a reachable kitchen cabinet, and taken out or put away as needed. As children get older, having a desk in their bedrooms which is theirs alone, or they share with a sibling, may work better. Make sure you peek your head in periodically to help your child stay focused and to offer encouragement.
Back to School Shopping for Homework Supplies
Make a list of both required school supplies and items that will help children complete their homework successfully. If your child’s teacher(s) have specific requirements (a particular kind of paper or pen vs. pencil, for example), make sure you purchase exactly what is asked for. In addition, consider providing:
- A variety of writing tools: pens of a variety of ink colors and styles, pencils, thin markers, crayons (for a young child), erasers
- A variety of papers: loose leaf, tablet, spiral notebook, colored construction paper
- Organizational and maintenance tools: pocket folders, file folders, electric pencil sharpener, paper clips, etc.
- The older your child, the more specialized the supplies: a specific calculator, thin-lined paper or a 5-subject notebook, for example; older children can also be expected to have one set of supplies which they carry back and forth to school with them
- Older children may also need access to a computer and printer. Have house rules about how time on the computer is allocated, both to different family members and for different kinds of activities (homework vs. games, for example)
- A wall calendar or bulletin board provides a way to help children get organized and build accountability skills; make note of when homework is due, when to wear sneakers for gym, or when library books are due, etc.
- Include a few fun supplies if your budget allows: a pen that writes in different colors or a folder with your child’s favorite character on the cover
Remember that your support will help motivate your kids to do homework. Consider sitting at the table with your child after dinner and working alongside her, finishing some of your own work. It is easier to stay focused when you see someone else also working and you are available as questions arise. The skills your child learns in taking responsibility to complete homework can have a lifetime impact.