7 ways to become your child’s homework hero
Along with fall heralding the season of “back to school” comes the daily afternoon drill: homework. But it doesn’t have to be a terrible chore for you and your child, says Ashley Norris, PhD, Alabama-based regional assistant dean of the University of Phoenix College of Education and a former education consultant.
Norris offers the following tips to help you become a “homework hero” in the eyes of your child:
Create a consistent routine.
“Don’t overlook the importance of establishing a regular homework routine with your child,” Norris says, including determining the time of day and a quiet space where your child can work.
Evaluate the workload before you begin.
Before your child begins working on homework, check in to find out what assignments are due and when. When a big task is looming, Norris suggests breaking it down into smaller chunks so it won’t seem overwhelming.
For example, your child can attack an important test by studying a little each day leading up to the exam.
Give your child some independence.
“It’s important to let your child attempt to do the work on their own, before you try to help,” Norris says. “Taking a step back and allowing them independence gives them a sense of confidence.”
By the same token, if your child has a problem understanding a lesson, give the child the power to decide how to handle it by asking questions to help assess the problem. Discuss how the teacher taught the lesson and help the child develop an understanding of the material.
Get to know your child’s strengths and weaknesses. This is an opportunity to praise the strengths and offer encouragement in areas where your child struggles.
“If you show disappointment whenever there is a bad grade, it can lead your child to feel insecure and eventually disengage from that subject,” Norris says. “Instead, ask your child, ‘How could you do it differently next time?’”
Arrange study dates instead of playdates.
If your child has difficulty with an assignment, or if you are struggling to help with a project, consider arranging a homework playgroup with other children.
Sometimes peers working together can make projects go smoother because the children can pick up lessons from one another.
Find the best outside resources.
If the content of a particular subject is over your head, Norris says, don’t be shy about seeking outside resources, such as friends or family with expertise.
Alternatively, free websites like Khan Academy offer how-to videos on math concepts, for example, as well as helpful forums for asking questions. Many textbooks also offer online resources, such as quizzes and practice problems to assist in understanding the concepts.
Make sure time is on your side.
If you regularly check in with your child about deadlines and create a plan for the week, you’ll avoid the dreaded materials run the night before a due date.
“One of the best things you can do is to give your child ample time to complete his [or her] work,” Norris stresses. “Being rushed creates a lot of anxiety and frustration for the child and yourself.”