Tips for Helping Your Kids with School Work at Home

 

While switching up old habits can be challenging, sticking to some playtime and schooltime schedules can be helpful for the whole family. Here are three tips and techniques for creating and maintaining routines while children are learning and playing at home.

 

1. Establish a Routine

Establish a clearly-defined routine at home that you and your child create together. Having a conversation with your child about his or her school procedure will not only help them feel like they are constantly involved in the process but also allows them to take ownership of the school routine. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, "children do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent." Some children need a snack or play time outside during the day in order to be more focused.

Ultimately, children, especially elementary-aged children, should be given an opportunity to have unstructured play-time throughout the day. It is imperative they have a mental break and a chance to "just be kids."

After you have created a realistic routine where expectations are clearly defined, the next step is to create a distraction-free work space. Assist your child in creating a quiet place where they are comfortable (but not too comfortable!) with age-appropriate materials and organizational tools, such as pencils, notecards and highlighters. Becky Lynch, a kindergarten assistant and mother of two teenage daughters, says, "the more you can minimize an opportunity for distraction, the better." Televisions, iPads, iPhones and other tempting electronics should not be accessible during these times. Kelli Henning, a second grade teacher with teenage triplets at home, has a "zero-tolerance" policy for technology during schoolwork time and expects her kids "to turn off their technology until all of their work is completed." However you choose to do it, make sure that your child can complete his or her work with as few distractions as possible. This will help them not only do well on their assignments but also set up healthy habits for future success.

2. Minimize Your Help

Along with a distraction-free space, it is important for you as parents to resist the urge to do assignments for your child. Consider that the process is more important than the product, and that failure should not be feared. In the TIME article "Why You Shouldn't Do Your Child's Homework," the author notes, "Failure teaches you some seriously important skills: what you are doing wrong, what you need to do differently next time, and emotional coping strategies to overcome the real heartache that can occur when we crash and burn."

Elementary-aged children might experience difficulty when reading directions or understanding an assignment. If this is the case, give your child a chance to try the problem and then step in to offer assistance if you think it is necessary and will prevent frustration.

Encourage middle school- and high school-aged children to work through problems independently by organizing an approach and using multiple problem-solving strategies. Thinking out loud and learning how to tackle a challenging problem will help them develop grit and stamina necessary for when they encounter problems in the future. Give guidance instead of answers. Provide positive feedback in the form of praising hard work and effort.

In her book, The Growth Mindset Carol S. Dweck notes, "If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning. That way, their children don't have to be slaves of praise. They will have a life-long way to build and repair their own confidence."

3. Monitor Study Time

Finally, along with a routine and a distraction-free space, monitoring the time your child is spending on his or her work is absolutely crucial. While the amount of work varies between schools and even teachers, it is important to be in communication with your child's teacher regarding expectations. If it is taking your child more than the recommended time to complete an assignment, or he or she is showing signs of frustration and stress, have them stop the assignment and either contact the teacher or ask you for help.

Dr. Bluestein, author of Build Flexibility Into Your Homework Policy wants teachers and parents to keep in mind the importance of engaging, and maintaining, a love of learning and a curiosity about life and the world beyond the subject itself.

While these tips might not address or solve all of your schoolwork issues, the primary goal for you as parents is to aid in the process of helping your children develop a love and a lifelong passion for learning. You can help your child develop the mindset that learning can be a positive experience that is rewarding, fun and challenging.

The U.S. Department of Education notes, "The attitude you express about homework will be the attitude your child acquires." Be a role model for your child by modeling healthy work habits. Cultivate an environment at home where books are viewed as gifts that you can open over and over again. Read to your child, with your child or alongside him or her, especially when they are in elementary grades. Find math in the world by creating real world problems to solve or use cooking and household chores as paths to reinforce critical thinking skills and transfer. Doing schoolwork and homework can mean more than getting out the "sharp pencils" and "thick books." Instead, it can be an avenue for gaining meaningful and valuable learning experiences applicable to children's everyday lives.

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