By Whitney Douglas, Lower School Academic Coach
Homework can be time-consuming and stressful, but it doesn’t have to be! Introducing positive, healthy study habits now can put your whole family on the path for more productive, peaceful study sessions that set your child up for independence and success in the long run. Here are some ways to improve the homework routine in your household so your student can finish the school year off strong.
- Consistency is Key – Without a consistent homework routine, it can be easy to put off homework until everyone is tired and unmotivated. Find a time that works with after-school activities and still allows for some family time in the evening as well. Most students need time to decompress after the school day. Research shows that many students can work more efficiently after some physical activity so don’t underestimate the power of outside play! Once a good homework time has been established, find a place where all materials are available and there are minimal distractions. While a desk in a quiet room may work for some, the kitchen table may work better for others. Many students need space to spread out materials and books, and they can benefit from having a parent close enough to answer questions while still being encouraged to work independently. Whatever works for your family, stick to it and be consistent. Time lost looking for a sharp pencil or clean paper can really add up.
- Dial Back Distractions – In a busy household, it can be hard to create a quiet, focused environment. As parents, it can be helpful to model what a focused environment looks like for your students. A good way is to complete your “homework” while your student completes their work. Paying bills, folding laundry, making a grocery list or reading for pleasure would all be ways to model completing tasks while setting up a quiet, focused environment. Turning off the TV and silencing phones during “homework time” also shows students how to prioritize work so that tasks can be completed in a timely fashion.
- Aim for Independence – Remember, homework is practice for skills that have been introduced in the classroom. While it is important to be aware of what your student is studying, encourage your student to work independently first, then model how to find the answers to any questions they may have. Older students also can learn how to check their work for mistakes by being encouraged to look for their own errors first before a parent checks.
- Practice makes Permanent, not Perfect – Homework is a way to practice and reinforce the important skills and concepts that are being taught during the school day. Whether it is a different way of multiplying across zeros or a new spelling pattern, make sure that your student isn’t taking short cuts that are a detriment to the overall learning goal. Skills build not only week to week but year to year, and practicing incorrectly will only undermine the end result. Teachers and parents are partners in the goal of a quality education for your student; homework is just another way to communicate the goals of the classroom lessons and emphasize key concepts, while providing focused practice.
Homework is not meant to be a burden on parents or a means of punishment for the student. The goal of completing work at home is to provide for additional reinforcement of key concepts and to foster healthy, independent study habits so they can achieve the highest levels of success not only in elementary school, but in high school and beyond. By practicing these study skills now, our students really will be able to start here and go anywhere!