Parents, you are not only your child’s first teacher, you are their continuous teacher. Helping your child develop the habits of a lifelong learner can be demanding. One of the most important habits is learning how to study. Meaningful homework can be an extremely valuable learning tool. Too often, homework becomes a battle involving the students, the parents and the teachers. To avoid this difficult situation we offer the following 8 Steps to Homework Success.
1. Establish a Routine
Beginning with a child’s first day of formal schooling, establish a routine. Set aside a portion of time each day to discuss the school day and review assignments and activities. Teachers suggest the following limits for homework each school day:
- Grades K-2: 10-20 minutes
- Grades 3-6: 30-60 minutes
- Grades 7-12: Varies – Consult the Teachers
Enjoy this time together. Use it to help your child set goals and celebrate his or her achievements.
2. Schedule a Time and Place for Learning
School is a student’s equivalent of a job, and it should be taken as seriously. Work with your children to establish a regular time and place for them to study. Even if they do not have homework, they should honor that time by reading or reviewing work.
As children get older, they should be encouraged to work with you to set their own schedule each week. This will help them gain time management skills. Remember to praise their success.
3. Discuss Your Child’s Homework
Make it a regular practice to review your child’s homework each day. This will help you monitor their progress and will let them know how important their education is to you. Use this time to ask questions about what they are learning. Rather than simply checking to see if the work is done, talk with them about interesting aspects of what they are learning. Learning should be exciting. Ask questions, and really listen to the answers.
4. How to Help Without Doing the Work
There will be times when every student will need help with their homework. There are several pitfalls to avoid. First, consider yourself to be a coach. This means that your job is to help your child discover the answer on their own.
To do this, guide your child through the six basic problem solving steps:
Identify the Problem
Listen to your child as they explain the assignment and the aspects they do not understand. They can become emotional when they are frustrated, so you will want to invest some time at this point to be certain you understand what needs to be done.
Identify What is Known
Keep in mind that, although the assignment might be easy for you, your child is struggling. Therefore, attempting to reassure them by saying the assignment is easy may not be effective. Rather, help them gain control over the task by asking them to identify what they already know.
Determine What Needs to be Known
Work with your child to clearly identify what they do not understand or what resources they need in order to complete the assignment.
Break the Problem into Smaller Tasks if Necessary
Another way to gain control over a problem is to break it down into smaller tasks.
Find and Use New Resources to Apply to the Problem
Be careful not to do the work for them. The purpose of homework is to identify what a student knows. If you do the work, they will not learn what they need to progress. Ask leading questions that allow them to identify the resources which can help them complete their work. You might also ask them to brainstorm solutions. In these ways you are helping them learn to learn.
Evaluate What Happened
Evaluation is key to learning. Within a few days of completing the assignment, talk positively with your child about the problem solving process. Celebrate their achievements. Ask them what they found beneficial and what was difficult. You will want to adjust the process so that it works best for each child.
5. How to Help When You Don’t Know the Answer
As your children get older, they may study subjects in which you do not have experience. Don’t panic, ask questions. By following problem solving steps similar to those described above, you can be a great help to your child.
You’ll also find great resources online.