Every parent wants their child to do well in school, but scheduling homework into the round of after-school activities and extracurriculars can be a chore. Here are some helpful hints to make homework as painless as possible for the whole family.
See to the Basics
It’s hard to do your best when you’re tired, hungry, or thirsty. So give your child time to wind down and refresh themselves when they come in from a day at school. Let them fuel up with healthy, energy-boosting snacks such as fresh fruit, whole grains, nuts, and dairy. Encourage them to drink a glass of water, spend some time outdoors, and perhaps even grab a nap. Taking a short break after school allows your child to come at their homework with renewed attention and effort. If it seems like the homework is taking forever, encourage your child to take a break, get up and move around for a few minutes, before returning to their studies.
Routine Is the Key
Children don’t handle abrupt changes well. Set up an after-school routine that includes a set period of time in which they can complete their homework, and try to stick to it each day. Part of this involves creating a quiet space in which they can work without distractions. This should have a desk and appropriate equipment for learning, without the hindrance of television, phone, or social media. Even if they require access to a computer, you can limit their programs and applications to those necessary for their schoolwork. Having a place to go to, at a set time each day, will reinforce good work and study habits.
Create activities to reinforce what your children are learning in school. If they’re studying French, have dinner at a French restaurant. If they’re learning American History, consider a weekend trip to the local historical museum. Depending on what they’re learning in science, do some outdoor activities like making a solar oven, hiking or visiting an animal sanctuary. There are copious opportunities to tie in family fun with what your kid is studying that will reinforce their lessons and broaden their interest and understanding of the subject matter.
Ask for Help
Not every child learns in the same fashion. Some children have difficulty learning new material from a textbook or lecture. They may benefit from alternative teaching methods. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when your child is struggling. Consult the teacher and explain what you’ve witnessed. Together, you can devise methods to help reach the student. Maybe your child is not a visual-spatial learner, and needs materials explained more concretely, with hands-on experiences. It’s even possible your child could have an underlying problem or learning disability that makes a particular pathway to learning more problematic. Investigate the issue, seek professional advice, and try different methods of imparting information to the student.
Make It Fun
It’s hard to imagine homework being fun, but you can do a lot to make it less boring. Turn lessons into an educational game, where they track their progress and earn points or rewards for improvement. Consider adding a trophy or display area to their workspace so they can be inspired by their own successes. You can also reward your children by taking them outside to do some bird watching or fossil finding. You could even invest in a telescope to spark interest in the wonders of astronomy.
Another great way to reinforce learning is to reverse roles and have your child teach you what they learned today. Sit down and be the student. This is particularly useful when your child is utilizing a learning method with which you are unfamiliar. Stepping into the role of instructor helps the child better understand the concepts they’re learning and retain information.
Give your child every opportunity to succeed by setting up a practical homework schedule and a constructive, inspiring workspace. Encourage successes by building on them, inspiring your child to take pride in each new lesson mastered. Get help when you need it, and don’t be afraid to try different approaches tailored to your child’s specific needs and abilities. With patience and determination, you can help your child get through their workload without too much discomfort.