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Ten Homework Tips for Parents
Courtesy of the Schwab Foundation for Learning

Research shows that when parents become involved in their children's schoolwork, the children do better in school. One way you can get involved is by helping your child with homework. It will benefit both your child's school work and self-esteem.

One important aspect of helping your child with homework is to find out if the homework is appropriate. If your child is reading or doing mathematics below grade level, the homework should reflect this fact.

Here are ten tips to help with homework:

  1. Keep in touch with the teacher or teachers to be fully aware of the quantity and the quality of the homework turned in.
  2. Set a schedule, including both a beginning and an ending time. Most kids need some time to unwind after school before they tackle their homework. Doing it too close to bedtime may make it difficult due to fatigue. Fridays are usually the best day for homework that must be completed over the weekend. Assignments are still fresh in mind and last minute panic rushes are avoided.
  3. Encourage your child to divide the homework assignment into "What I can do myself" and "What I need help with." You should help only with that part of the homework your child cannot do independently, such as using flashcards, practicing spelling tests, and clarifying assignments. This builds responsibility and independence in your child.
  4. Use "Grandma's Rule." Remember that Grandma is reputed to have said that there is no dessert until you are finished with your spinach. Hold off on watching TV and other fun activities until homework is completed.
  5. Provide a home study center for your child with adequate light and few distractions. If your child concentrates better with "white noise" (music), provide that help. Also, a dictionary, paper, pens, etc., should be readily available.
  6. Use direct praise for doing the homework and even more for accomplishment. "You've spelled 18 out of 20 words correctly--that's the best you've done this semester!"
  7. Be available when your child is doing homework, so that you can answer a question if there is confusion. If possible, it is better for you to be in another room, so you are easily accessible and yet not a distraction.
  8. Look over the homework when it is completed. Do not correct it unless you have checked with the teacher. Seeing the pattern of errors is often helpful to a teacher.
  9. Study groups are often a good strategy. Your child may benefit from studying with one or two classmates. However, make sure they are using the time to study.
  10. Allow bathroom, drink, and/or snack breaks, but insist on completion of tasks.
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