Homework and Studying

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The start of a new school year is a significant event in the life of a child and parent. The excitement that comes with a new beginning is often quickly overwhelmed by the arrival of homework and the need to study. For parents, this period can unfortunately require a degree of management that can lead to family conflict and stressed-out kids.

Why do we take time for homework and studying?

It has been demonstrated that reviewing information that is learned during the day improves memorization and reinforces comprehension.

In addition, taking time for homework and studying helps children develop their research skills and become more independent. It also helps them to learn how to follow schedules, maintain deadlines and to develop a sense of responsibility. For the parent, homework time is a chance to see the child’s progress and follow what is happening at school. Homework time can be a good time for conversation and developing good parent-child communication.

What is the parent’s role?

The parent’s role is to help the child to plan and organize his or her homework time. Once this is done, it’s up to the child to manage the work in his or her own way. In the early school years, parents may need to provide more support and guidance. As the child grows, parents should take a step back to allow the child to take charge, and to learn to manage homework on his or her own. When parents are too involved, the child will take less responsibility for his or her own work and learn to rely on parents instead of developing a sense of responsibility.

Parents should provide encouragement and positive reinforcement. When homework time becomes unpleasant, the child is likely to disengage. As time goes by, homework will become more and more difficult to manage.

Tips for helping your child concentrate:

  • Establish a routine
  • Choose a calm workspace
  • Minimize distractions : television, computer, phone
  • Create a homework supply kit (dictionary, pencils, eraser, calculator, lined paper, grammar references, geometry kit, etc.)
  • Try using music if it helps your child to concentrate (without words)
  • Limit homework time according to the child’s age: elementary: 30 to 60 minutes; high school: 1 to 2 hours, plus weekends

Tips for a successful homework period:

  • Anticipate how much time each task should take
  • Allow your child to decide on the order in which he or she will complete the tasks (start with the hardest tasks)
  • Make a list of the work to be done (in elementary school, a work plan may be sent home; older students are usually expected to write homework in their own agendas)
  • Allow for breaks, a few minutes in length
  • Allow time for a snack
  • Use earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones if necessary to minimize distracting noises
  • Use a timer, stopwatch, or clock to help with time-management
  • If your child tends to fidget, move about, or feels a need to touch everything, provide a stress ball, a chewy tube, or some modelling clay to hold on to.
  • If your child needs to move about, allow work to be done in a variety of positions

Motivation tips:

  • Make a list and check off or cross out tasks that are finished
  • Make a reward board (for younger children) or a homework contract (for older children and teens)
  • Offer a reward, such as a chance to play a favorite game, when homework is finished

In conclusion:

Don’t hesitate to set goals for homework time, to help your child understand the value of homework, and to establish your role, as a parent, to support and guide your child. When your child realizes that he or she is able to manage homework alone, this will lead to a sense of a job well done, which will improve his or her independence and self-esteem.

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