Well it is almost that time of year again… school is about to reopen after the summer break and many of you parents are dreading homework time. Many of you have not yet recovered from the homework battle scars from the last school year and the prospect of acquiring new ones in the upcoming school year is downright depressing for some. So how can we minimize if not ensure that we do not add to our battle scars. Here are a few tips:
a) Establish a daily schedule (which includes the weekends) for homework and STICK to it. Prepare the schedule at least one week before school re-opens so that everyone including the child knows the homework rules;
b) Establish a set of consequences for not completing homework. Offer a few incentives for following through on homework assignments and STICK to the plan;
c) From day one of the new school term, have your child write down homework assignments in his/her planner and have the teacher sign it. That way the child cannot convincingly lie that he/she did not get homework that day. Remember to check the planner daily. In turn parents should sign the planner that the homework was completed;
d) Create a “homework” space in your home.. no matter how humble the home. Remove as many distractions as possible chief of which is the television;
e) Ensure that your child has as many of the items that he/she will need to complete his/her homework to minimize them using the need to go get a “new” pencil as an excuse to delay starting homework;
f) Allow the child to take periodic breaks (no more than two minutes) to reduce distractibility. This is critical if your child has focusing issues or has ADHD.
g) If your child is diagnosed with ADHD or is easily distracted, using a timer to help the child complete set tasks within a specified time will help to reduce homework anxiety on the child’s part and parental frustration.
h) Supervise your child’s homework time but do not do his/her homework. The only way your child is going to learn is to make the mistakes and learn from them. Leave it to the teacher to make the necessary corrections.
Most of all remember that your child just spent the better part of 8 hours in a structured environment. Give them a chance to wind down and relax before homework time. The length of time depends on the kid but parents should not make this break longer than an hour. After all, we do not want them to be so relaxed that they begin to whine and have a meltdown when they have to leave play and go back to the books. Also give them a small snack before homework time. No child no matter how smart can concentrate when they are hungry.