Homework is about more than just good grades. It improves your child’s thinking and memory, instills positive work habits, and builds confidence. As a parent, your involvement is important.
Be a homework partner, not the “homework police.” Help your child prioritize tasks or review their answers once they’re done. Lending a hand shows your child that their education is valuable, and by letting them do the work, you allow them to take responsibility, practice new skills, and become familiar with the highs and lows of learning.
Create a productive environment where your child can focus and be comfortable. Choose a space in your home with plenty of workspace and lighting and minimal distraction. If possible, utilize this area for homework only, and make it a rule to switch TVs and phones off during homework time. A pleasant, stress-free space creates positive associations and helps build a strong routine.
Encourage breaks. Before your child begins, discuss the amount of homework to be completed and estimate how long each task will take. Then, plan a break schedule so they have something to look forward to. Also, keep your child’s attention span in mind. High school students may be able to focus for over an hour, but first-graders are unlikely to last more than 15 minutes.
Model patience and problem-solving approaches. When your child faces a difficult assignment, begin by reviewing what they already understand, then discuss what information they need in order to move forward. Explain how you use similar skills at work and in daily life, and let your child observe you reading, writing, doing math, and problem-solving around the home. Your child will come to understand that the skills they’re learning are an important part of becoming an adult.
Break down projects into smaller tasks. Help your child make a list of each task in the best order. Have them check off each completed task, and encourage them to experience a sense of satisfaction when each item is finalized. By working toward attainable goals, your child will feel less intimidated by homework and can gain a better sense of how they’re improving over time. This provides a great way to strengthen their overall confidence and sense of accomplishment.
Lisa Goodwin, LCSW, is Clinical Director of the Masonic Center for Youth and Families in Covina, a nonprofit organization that offers therapeutic services for children, adolescents, young adults, and their families. Learn more at www.mcyaf.org.