Homework. Is there any other word that can instantly cause children to groan and parents to wince?
Too often, homework is a battlefield. Kids fight doing it, while parents beg, plead, coddle, bribe, command, threaten and sometimes just give up. But homework does not have to be a time of great stress for families.
Dr. Paula Kramer, chair and professor of occupational therapy at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, says the best way to handle homework without a conflict is to establish a daily routine.
"Homework is a necessary part of childhood, education and a critical aspect of development for future productive behaviors," said Kramer. "By creating a daily schedule, which involves designated time for homework and studying, children will begin to see homework as a responsibility, just like going to work is for parents."
Kramer says parents should follow these seven tips to help avoid arguments over turning off the television and hitting the books:
1. Homework must be done daily.
Come to an understanding with your children that homework is a necessity. Teach them that homework is something that has to be done on a daily basis.
2. Set expectations.
Communicate with your children's teachers to find out how much time students are expected to devote to homework each night. Discuss this expectation so your children understand the average time they will need to devote to homework each night. Setting expectations and time limits will make them more productive.
3. Allow for active playtime before homework.
If your children don't have an afterschool activity, such as sports practice or dance class, provide 45 minutes to an hour for them to engage in physical activity before starting their homework. This will help them burn off energy, settle their nervous system and help focus mentally for their homework tasks.
4. Create a designated area for homework and studying.
Depending upon the child, this could mean setting up a desk space in a bedroom away from family members or clearing off the kitchen table within view of the parents. The important thing to remember is to keep the homework locale consistent, quiet and free from distractions.
5. Create charts to track homework progress.
The chart will not only set a schedule that visibly shows that homework needs to be done every night, but also allow your children to track their progress. Rewards can be given for homework completed successfully a few nights in a row.
6. Use positive reinforcement to encourage good homework and study habits.
Positive reinforcement should be used to recognize accomplishments. Small rewards should be given for small tasks, such as a gold sticker on the homework chart for completing homework that week. Larger rewards can be given for larger accomplishments. Here's one idea: An "A" on a test earns the privilege of choosing what the family has for dinner on Friday night.
7. Be a role model for your children. School cannot teach them everything.
Take an active role in your children's education. Check in on them while they are doing their homework to make sure it is completed properly. Also, suggest and model behaviors that teach important life skills that make tasks more manageable. For example, create flash cards on Monday for a test that will need to be studied for on Thursday or set daily "goals" for the child so a project will be completed ahead of its due date.
--From the Editors at Netscape