Creating a homework station is a good first step to fostering independence. Here are some additional tips.
- Determine the Best Time for Homework
As you start a new school year, it's a good idea to plan with your child when homework is to be done. The goal should be to select a regular time that is workable for everyone both the family's schedule and your child's needs. Think about your child's temperament. Does she need to run around and get rid of some pent up energy after school? Does he need some "down time?" Homework time should not be a punishment, and there are many different ways to schedule it. If you can find the right time with your child and be consistent about it the whole process will be more peaceful, as well as more efficient and productive.
However you help your child with homework, don't lose sight of whose assignment it really is. Editing, rewriting, and changing answers may enhance the quality of the work but not the learning experience. Though your child will be happier with the higher grades, he will become a less confident learner. Keep in mind that while we all want success for our children, the ultimate goal is independence.
- Provide Direction But Not Directions
Many children do need help with homework, but it is important to help in ways that will lead to independence. Consider this: Before they've even glanced at the directions, kids often will show parents a worksheet and say, "I don't get it." Kids know what they're doing; why spend time figuring out directions if you can get Mom or Dad to explain what to do? In these cases, rather than reading the directions to yourself and then explaining them, ask your child to read the directions aloud to you. This strategy enables kids to hear the directions, which is often all that's needed to make the assignment clear.
- Offer Guidance and Support When Needed
If your child is one who needs individual support and attention both at school and at home, tackle the assignments one at a time. Go over the directions and materials with your child, making sure he is clear about what needs to be done. Talk about what needs to be completed even if it is only a portion of the assignment—and then disappear. As always, the goal is to nurture and help your child believe in her ability to be successful.
Read Part 1: Tips for putting homework in its place.