Aug
25
2016

Homework | Tips For Parents

With another school year starting, parents and children alike are preparing to deal with the inevitable: homework. In the Fall/Winter 2014 edition of Healing Magazine, therapist and school counselor Beth Peters offered some common-sense advice to parents to help their kids get the most out of what she called The Homework Equation:

My first piece of advice to parents always has been and always will be: “Does your child understand what is being asked in the assignment?” So many times I would be meeting with a student who was not completing homework assignments, and by the end of our conversation the truth would come out that he just did not understand what he was doing, what the assignment was asking or he was simply having trouble grasping the concept being taught. Because of this frustration, it was easier to just not do it rather than spend even more time trying to work through it or ask for help. My advice to parents is that they take five minutes to sit with their child, look over what homework is being brought home and ask the child if he has any questions before getting started. If there are questions, email the teacher immediately for clarification…

A second piece of advice I offer to both parents and students is to break up homework assignments into smaller sections. For example, if a student comes home with homework to be completed in four classes, do not sit down expecting to tackle all four assignments at once. Instead, work on math, then take a 15-minute break before going onto English, and so on. When the brain gets a break in between assignments, it tends to be more productive in moving forward rather than trying to run through a marathon of assignments all at once. Healthy snacks are another way to help the brain function more effectively while doing homework assignments. Sugary snacks slow brain functioning therefore making homework harder to concentrate on – stick with healthy options such as a fruits and veggies…

Homework assignment books and/or calendar planners are a huge key to success. With the advent of smartphones and similar technology, many of my students would forgo the traditional pencil and paper planner and simply plug assignments directly into their Google calendars on their phones … For schools that have a zero tolerance cell phone policy or for students who do not have cell phones, traditional planners still work just as well. I will often encourage parents to utilize incentives for their child to effectively use a planner to write down assignments. For example, extra money to take to the football game on Friday night, an iTunes gift card or whatever will be an effective motivator for your child to help him in utilizing the assignment book properly.

In addition to homework planners, communication with the student’s teacher(s) is critical. Parents and teachers need to communicate effectively and often if there are any concerns about progress, understanding of concepts or assignments.

For students who are involved in many extracurricular activities, parents need to remember that school is a full-time job, and everything else is above and beyond the 35-hour “work” week. Think about how you feel after working a hard 40-hour week then coming home to take care of everything else that needs your attention such as food, laundry, bills, cleaning and chauffeuring. You’re usually pretty exhausted at the end of day, right? So are your kids! A student who is out doing something every single night is not able to properly focus on what his main job in life is right now – school…

My last piece of advice to parents who are trying to keep their children focused and motivated when coming home from school and completing homework is, do NOT say “Well, when I was in school…” Children today face a number of obstacles that we simply did not have to deal with when we were in school… When you see that your child is struggling with homework, more often than not you will find that it’s not actually the assignment he is struggling with, but rather it’s something socially that is causing him to not be focused on the academic assignment at hand. Sit with him, let him know you are there to offer a nonjudgmental ear and assure him that you are there to offer support in whatever way is needed…

Read Beth Peters’ full article in Issue #34 of Healing Magazine, which can be downloaded at www.healingmagazine.org