Your child may not realize this as they’re memorizing the periodic table at 2 a.m., but homework can be 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.

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

  1. Set the mood

    Help your child create a dedicated study area with all of the resources they need to complete their assignments. If you don’t have a quiet place at home, they should try the school or local library.

  2. Know where to begin

    Your child should make a prioritized list of everything they need to do, so they can’t use “I don’t know where to start” as an excuse. It’s important not to over-schedule and allow for flexibility. Assume that some projects will take longer than they estimate!

  3. Study at the same time every day

    If your child doesn’t have homework on a given day, they can use this time to review notes. If quiet study time is something your child accepts as part of their day, they’ll approach homework with less dread. Plus, they will become a pro at using time productively.

  4. Keep things in perspective

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

  5. Find ways to engage

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

  6. 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 methods that work best for them. They should ask a teacher for recommendations if they’re experiencing difficulty.

  7. Take advantage of down time

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

  8. Encourage studying with a friend

    Unless it’s too distracting, your child may want to get together with friends and classmates to quiz themselves, 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.

  9. 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 they are working on a big assignment. Your appreciation of your child’s accomplishments in school is important to them, even though they may not always show it.

  10. Talk with the teacher

    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 allows them to grow. It will also help you to know how much time your child needs to allot for their homework, since that may affect how much time they have for participating in family activities or helping out around the house.

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