study-girl-writing-notebook-159810Staci Glynn, MAC, LPC, Licensed Professional Counselor and Clinical Supervisor

School is once again back in session and that means friends, extracurricular activities and homework. Often times, kids do not enjoy homework; however, it is an important part of learning. Homework offers children the opportunity to practice what they learn in school and to build important life skills.

Homework teaches children about initiative, discipline and responsibility. It can also teach them time management skills for both short- and long-term projects. The key to supporting your child’s homework success is to encourage completion of homework.

Understand expectations. It is helpful if parents, children and teachers are knowledgeable of homework expectations.  Parents can find out how much homework is given weekly, on average.  If your child does not know, make contact with the teacher and learn about their expectations; this will help you better assist your child and identify barriers to homework success.

Establish healthy study habits. Healthy habits include providing an environment that works for your individual child.  Distractions such as music, people and television can all decrease homework success.  Identifying how much homework your child has and creating a schedule, can also be helpful.  Some kids may become overwhelmed by the amount of homework they have and need to complete homework with breaks.  Strategies for creating health study habits may include, encouraging your child by folding his paper, so he only sees five, instead of 25, math problems at a time, or scheduling five-minute breaks every 20 minutes.

Keep the child responsible. Parents can support their children in homework, but ultimately homework teaches children to make responsible choices.  If your child does not want to do their homework, ask what the consequences would be, if they chose not to do it.  If your child forgets her homework, help her identify a backup plan, such as calling a friend to obtain the information needed; or using an assignment notebook to help review what needs to be brought home at the end of each day.

Don’t correct their homework. Homework is a teacher’s tool to see what children are learning in class, and identifying where they need additional support.  While it’s fine to help him remember how to calculate fractions, it’s another to correct his answers.

Use rewards systems carefully. It’s important for children to recognize the success of their efforts; they should take time to celebrate improving grades or straight As. If you do feel the need to offer additional rewards, let your child choose the meal for the night or spend an extra 15 minutes with you. In any case, rewards can be free or inexpensive and eventually fade away.

Work or read alongside your child. Parents can role model the discipline of homework, by joining them.  She’ll feel less isolated and your support will be readily available, if she needs it.

By showing your children how to manage their time in a way that allows for both recreation and homework completion before bedtime, you’ll be teaching them skills for success not only in school but also in life.