As a parent, you know that homework is important for tweens – after all, this is the time when the stakes at school amp up – and setting the foundation for good study habits is crucial. But getting this high energy to sit still can be a real challenge. If you feel at a loss about how you can help your kids with homework, here are some some tips that may ease the homework challenges.
1. Schedule it in
Let your kids know that you think homework is important by scheduling it in. One way to do that is to have a designated “homework time.” This kind of routine can be very helpful for kids, and also establishes homework as an important task with its own allotted time.
Having a designated homework time also gives you more flexibility. That may seem ironic, but you and your child get to decide how many hours are needed, and what time of day those hours can come out of. Involve your tween in the decision as well – this can be very motivational – and makes it less about the parent telling the child what to do and more about the child working with you to solve a problem.
Another tip about the scheduling – consider setting aside an “academic time” rather than just “homework time.” For example, if your child knows he or she has to spend an hour doing something learning-related, he or she will probably be less likely to hurry carelessly through a homework assignment just to get it done. If she finishes homework early she must still use the rest of the time for academic “stuff” – not getting to watch TV or surf the Internet.
2. Check it over
Make it a routine to look over your kids’ homework assignments. You don’t have to nit-pick, but just see that the homework is completed and that there are no glaringly obvious errors.
3. Get to know the teacher
Try to find out your child’s teacher’s expectations regarding homework, so that you can help your child reach those specific goals. It may be surprising how much teachers can differ in their homework expectations.
4. Quiet time
Homework/academic time should be free from noisy distractions if at all possible. Don’t settle down with homework assignments near the telephone, television, or computer, for instance (unless the homework assignment requires research on the computer). At the same time, most tweens still need some guidance when doing their homework – so sending them to their room unsupervised is not a good idea. If younger siblings are around, have them do something quiet at the same time.
5. Quiet place
Choose a special place for homework. Your tween will look forward to her homework nook if it’s set up right. While guarding against distractions, you can set up the area to have snacks, drinks (even a mini fridge), comfy chairs or cushions, a special desk or table, and so forth.