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"It's time to do your homework."
"But Mom, Dad..."
"But Mom, Dad..."
Sound familiar? For many parents, these words are heard from the month of September and last well into June. What can be done to maximize stronger work habits and minimize frustration for you and your child? Quite a lot.
- Eliminate the risk of forgotten books/notebooks at school by asking teachers to check in with your child at the end of the day. For those children using lockers, hang a typed list on color paper reminding your child what to ask him/herself each day when packing up homework (see box, below, for example). In addition, a small index card could be taped on the cover of your child's planner.
- Advocate for a well-established communication system between home and school.
- Select a specified area for homework and necessary supplies. When completed, request that your child return all materials/supplies to their appropriate places.
- Help your child avoid avoiding homework. Work with your child on establishing rules on when and how homework will be accomplished. For example, should your child start with his favorite subject? Take a break after each assignment? How will your child know when it is time to return to work? (Verbal reminders, such as "Johanna, just a reminder that there are only two more minutes left in your break" and timers are very effective in reminding your child to return to work.) What stimuli is acceptable or unacceptable when studying? How homework is completed is equally important as completing it.
- For weekend homework, encourage your child to begin on Friday evenings. This is invaluable. Not only is information fresh in their minds but it allows enough time to make contingency plans for forgotten books or purchasing materials for projects.
- Ask yourself: "Are the teachers giving homework and instructions that suit my child best?" If not, don't hesitate to share concerns and ideas with the teacher.
- If your child misses school, help your child be responsible for finding out the next day's homework. While there may be times your child cannot complete the homework without the classroom instruction, it is still good to have your child follow through by calling a classmate or emailing the teacher (if this option is available) during the day. This learned skill becomes very important by mid-elementary years and, certainly, by middle school. It further minimizes some anxiety when your child returns to school.
- For children taking medication, ask yourself and your child if he or she is finding that the medication is working as optimally as possible. Work with your professional to determine if a change may be required.