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Homework Helper

Help your child take control of his homework load.

Your child may not realize it memorizing the periodic table at 2 a.m., but homework is a good thing. It helps your child:

  • Practice what was learned during the day.
  • Establish study habits that will be critical in college.
  • Prepare for classes.
  • Get a sense of progress.

Homework tips:

How can you help your child get the most out of homework? Here are 10 ideas to get you started.

Set the mood:

Help your child create a good study area with all the resources she needs (for example, a dictionary). If you don't have a quiet place at home, she should try the school or local library.

Know where to begin:

Your child should make a prioritized list of everything she needs to do, so she can't use "I don't know where to start" as an excuse. It's important not to over-schedule. Without some flexibility, your child will set herself up to fail.

Study at the same time every day:

Even if your child doesn't have homework, she can use the time to review notes. If homework is something your child accepts as part of her day, she'll approach it with less dread. Plus, she will become a pro at using time productively.

Keep things in perspective:

Your child should know how much weight each assignment or test carries, and use her time accordingly.

Get more involved:

Does your child ever feel like she can't stay awake to read something, let alone process it? To keep her mind from wandering, your child may want to take notes, underline sections, discuss topics with others, or relate her homework to what she is studying in another class.

Organize the information:

People process information in different ways. Some people like to draw pictures or charts to digest information, other people like to read out loud or make detailed outlines. Your child should try to find the best methods that work for her. She should ask her teacher for recommendations if she's experiencing any difficulty.

Take advantage of any free time:

If your child has a study hall, or a long bus ride, she can use the time to review notes, prepare for an upcoming class, or start homework.

Studying with a friend:

Unless it's too distracting, your child may want to get together with friends and classmates to quiz herself, compare notes, and predict test questions. To you, this may seem like mostly a social time, but it can be very beneficial to your child to prepare for an assignment as part of a group.

Celebrate your child's achievements:

Reward your child for hitting milestones, or doing something well. You can provide treats or small rewards for your child while she is working on a big assignment. Your appreciation of your child's accomplishments in school is still very important to her, even though she may not always show it.

Communication is key:

Keeping the lines of communication open will help to broaden your understanding of what teachers and counselors expect of your child and may help you to think of new ways to be supportive while still giving your child the independence that she's craving. It will also help you to understand how much time your child needs to allot for her homework, time that might take away from her participation in family activities or helping out around the house.

If your child has concerns about the amount or type of homework she has, she may want to talk to her teacher, adviser, or counselor. Encourage your child to ask for help if she needs it.

Comments from GreatSchools.org readers

11/10/2011:
"I think the communication between a teacher and a parent is very important in the growth of a child, but what do you do when teachers won't return calls. "
09/16/2011:
"Even though the aim is to instill independence, I feel you can instill independence using other things besides homework. Some need help with homework all the way through college, others don't. It is all individual. "
04/27/2009:
"i came across this article and thought that this might help Brianna now or once she gets older... Love, Amber"
03/20/2008:
"I love these e-mails. They teach my daughter and I a great deal!"
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